Top 10 acoustic guitarists you’ve probably never heard of

Last month we looked at ten electric guitarists who you’ve probably never heard of (look out for a follow up list of plugged in players soon!) so this Friday, we’re turning our attentions to the world of acoustic players.

The list isn’t in any order exactly, and readers who know their niches and players may well know a few of the names lined up below, but hopefully more casual guitar fans can find a new name to check out, enjoy and impress their friends with over the weekend.

Who have we missed that deserves a spot? Who in your opinion has no right to be here? Leave us a comment below!

1. Jon Gomm

Although now beginning to receive some well-deserved mainstream attention (partly thanks to Stephen Fry’s twitter feed), Jon Gomm will still be a new name to many guitarists.

Born in Blackpool, Gomm began learning the ukulele at the age of two and took up formal classical guitar lessons aged six. His style features prominent percussive sounds, which are created by tapping, striking and hitting the guitar to create snare and bongo-like sounds, as well as harmonics to expand the tonal range of his compositions and detuning of his strings while playing to create yet more harmonic interest.

Gomm operates outside of the mainstream music industry, refusing corporate gigs or chain venues in favour of independent promoters and festivals, which may explain why he isn’t already one of the most high-profile UK guitarists today.

2. Dayton Waters

An incredibly fast fingered and dexterous 12-string player, Dayton Waters compliments his impressive set of chops with a great sense of drive and control in his playing.

Waters’ own website recommends those heading to one of his shows “sit down, buckle up, and hold on for the ride of your life!”

Check him out slaying one of his own compositions El Cabildo in the video above.

3. Chris Eldridge

Also known as Critter, Chris Eldridge is an innovative bluegrass guitar player, singer and member of “progressive bluegrass meets modern classical” five-piece, Punch Brothers.

Son of noted banjo player, Ben Eldridge, his playing is a fluent, flowing stream of guitar that somehow keeps its warmth and charm amid its intricacies and flair.

4. Baden Powell de Aquino

Baden Powell is one of the greatest guitarists Brazil has ever produced, a claim that would usually disqualify him from such a list immediately.

However, although a respected name in Bossa nova, Samba and Latin jazz circles, Baden Powell isn’t a player you’d often hear amongst most guitarists.

His style combined classical, jazz and popular melodic elements with virtuosic ability, and a desire to push his playing to its limits.

5. T-Cophony

T-Cophony is a Japanese multi-instrumentalist whose finger-tapping style and all-encompassing, DIY approach has earned him a sizable following online.

Growing up, T-Cophony listened to a large range of music including techno and hard rock. As well as playing and writing on the guitar, he also composes and records band based tracks and electronica pieces.

Listen to T-Cophony performing Closed in the YouTube video above.

6. James Blackshaw

A 12-string player whose lively fingerpicking style relies partly on the elongated fingernails on his right hand, James Blackshaw is far from just a technically impressive player.

Blackshaw’s playing can be described as lyrical, emotive and perhaps even visual thanks to the vivid harmonies and textures he evokes within his compositions.

7. Bob Dylan

Hold on there a second before you fire all your afterburners in the direction of the comment box! Of course you’ve know of Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan the lyricist, Bob Dylan the great songwriter, Bob Dylan the icon – but are you aware of Bob Dylan the guitarist?

As a guitarist, Dylan receives a lot of criticism, especially when his playing is placed in comparison to his lyrical prowess and ability to write a song, but his skill with six strings is underrated.

True, he may not be the neatest, most technical or most attention grabbing player around but Dylan is a smart and expressive guitarist whose sense of phrasing, place and chord knowledge are exceptional.

As the man himself once said, “if my songs were all about the lyrics then why was guitarist Duane Eddy recording an instrumental album of my songs?”, a point that may not excuse his messier efforts on the fret board but certainly adds weight to the idea that there’s more to his guitar work that some would have you believe.

Check out Dylan’s fingerpicking in Don’t Think Twice (Its All Right).

8. Eric Roche

Beautifully expressive and full of drive and punch, Eric Roche was a fantastically well rounded and skillful player who sadly passed away in 2005 aged 37.

An accomplished guitar-composer, Roche also arranged other people’s music for solo guitar, with his versions of Van Halen’s Jump and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit often shared across Facebook and other social network sites often without the true genius of the man playing them recognised.

His style was at times percussive, giving his playing a gasping, thumping beat-like quality reminiscent of side-chained kick drums.

An educator as well as a truly great guitarist, Roche mentored Newton Faulkner, toured the world giving master classes and workshops, and also contributed regular columns to magazines Guitar Techniques and Acoustic Guitar. He also authored The Acoustic Guitar Bible and Eric Roche: Ballads For Classical Guitar.

Roche was by no means some great unknown talent, both during and after his life, but his ability perhaps deserves even greater and wider recognition in years to come.

9. Justo “El Tuto” Fernandez

Justo Fernandez is a flamenco guitarist of great skill and technique. While his profile among of flamenco circles is hardly obscure he is far from well known outside of his genre, which is at least partly down to lack of awareness many have of the flamenco style.

10. Esteban Antonio

  1. Do hair right first
  2. Add more necks to your guitar
  3. …..?!
  4. Profit!

Esteban Antonio is the creator of the 17-string Ha-Shem Grand Concert Harp guitar, which can be seen in the video above.

Not content with tapping two of his mega-guitar’s necks, Esteban also brings a violin bow and some fingerpicking to the party which, when combined with some reverb, sound absolutely huge.

The Ha-Shem may not be the most practical guitar in the world, but Esteban can produce some incredible sounds and layers with his creation.

Fancy a chance to win an Acoustic Guitar In A Box pack (pictured right)?

All you need to do is share this post from Musicroom’s Facebook wall. What could be easier? Good luck and happy sharing!

Acoustic Guitar In A Box comes complete with flip out chord chart, tutor book, CD and DVD, guitar strap, guitar pick and a set of 12 gauge strings.

For details on the prize, click here.

Who have we missed? Who doesn’t deserve to be on the list? Who is your favourite acoustic player?

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Comments

    Share Your Thoughts

  1. says

    I am Vitaly’s manager, and believe that he very well could be added in your list. Please see the Videos on his site and let me know if you share my point of view.
    Kind regards. Michel

  2. says

    Wow, you got some amazing list. Indeed, some great guitarists are not that known due to several factors but that does not top them in doing their thing. This post will certainly inspire several musicians out there to go on with their mission of spreading great music. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. By the way, I am really intrigued at Esteban Antonio. His imagination and style are incredible.

  3. says

    Anybody hear of Tommy Emmanuel??? Bob Dylan is a hell of a song writer but when it comes to playing the guitar he is really very average, I’m better than him myself. If this is a serious list of the top 10 acoustic players in the world then having Bob Dylan there instead of Tommy Emmanuel is a joke. He’s the greatest acoustic player in the world.

  4. Bebe Yarbrough says

    I saw Dayton Waters at the Big Chill in Hot Springs Arkansas and well……. He is fantastic. Plan on a GREAT time. Also plan on spending the evening because he does not take a lot of breaks and plan on calling a cab to take you to your room.

  5. ajay cee98 says

    How can you talk about acoustic guitarists and not mention the late great Michael Hedges? Jon Gomm lists him as an inspiration.

  6. Sunkmulder says

    Andy McKee, Michael Hedges, Steven Stills, Peter Mayer (of Minnesota) You mention Critter but Thiele’s old band mate – Sean Watkins is not too bad either.

  7. Ottokbre says

    Impossible Guitar?… I thought this was a Fred Armisen sketch… I STILL think it is after having watched it….

    • Musicroom says

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      Leilani Hagberg

      where’s some crazy Africans?

      3:48 p.m., Thursday Sept. 11

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  8. jkl says

    If you have to desperately defend one of your own entries tooth and nail right off the bat such as number 7…it probably doesnt belong on the list ;) wanker

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      jkl (Guest):

      If you have to desperately defend one of your own entries tooth and nail right off the bat such as number 7…it probably doesnt belong on the list ;) wanker
      2:17 p.m., Sunday Sept. 14

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      jkl (Guest):

      With that said….Monte montgomery playing little wing is pretty fantastic
      2:19 p.m., Sunday Sept. 14

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  9. Gary Wilson says

    Hi,
    I don’t know the all guitariest but I really like Esteban Antonio’s Guitar and how he easily use that guitar and I can’t handle a simple guitar hahaha.

    …………………………………………….

    best acoustic guitars

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      Gary Wilson

      Hi,
      I don’t know the all guitariest but I really like Esteban Antonio’s Guitar and how he easily use that guitar and I can’t handle a simple guitar hahaha.
      …………………………………………….

      best acoustic guitars

      7:06 a.m., Wednesday Sept. 17

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  10. Gary Wilson says

    Hmm,
    I see the videos of “Esteban Antonio” because of his special guitar actually first time I see than I thought that how can he will play that type of guitar.

    ……………………………………….

    best acoustic guitars

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