The sound of rock n’ roll, whether it be heavy metal, classic rock or punk, is the sound of the electric guitar. And while the lead players of the world get the groupies, I mean, glory, it’s the rhythm guitarists who make the whole thing work, and rock, in the first place. Without a great song, anchored around a surging riff or bashed out chord progression, even the greatest guitar solo in the world is just meaningless noodling. With that in mind we decided to count down 10 of the greatest rhythm guitar players in rock history. No doubt, there are some amazing guitarists out there who excel at both lead and rhythm guitar, Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen come to mind, but we thought we’d focus on those players who are known and rightfully revered for their rhythms and their riffs.
Anthrax rhythm guitar great Scott Ian talks about the importance of fellow rhythm shredder Joan Jett.
10. Rudolph Schenker (Scorpions)
The Flying V wielding founding member of Germany’s long-running metal titans is the riff-anchor of many of the band’s songs, as heard on this early highlight from 1975’s In Trance album.
9. Scott Ian (Anthrax, S.O.D.)
The rhythm guitar power behind one of thrash metal’s “Big 4,” Scott Ian can crank out power chords at lightning speed, such as on the signature song from his legendary metal hardcore crossover band’s debut record.