Listening to a master guitarist play can be one of the most soothing or exhilarating experiences fans of music can enjoy. And that's exactly what people need during this difficult time. Fortunately, the world has been blessed with many talented guitar players, with each bringing their own unique blend of skill, style, and sound. On that note, we've compiled below a list of five very different guitarists from around the world whom you should be listening to right now.
Christone Ingram – United States
The United States’ Christone Ingram is the youngest on this list and is widely known as “Kingfish” (after his eponymously titled debut album in 2019). In 2018, he was hailed as the future of blues thanks to a style heavily influenced by B.B. King but with a touch of Prince and Jimi Hendrix. Now 21, Kingfish hasn’t disappointed, and is, in fact, ranked high in our "Sounds Different: The Unknown Artistes That Will Command 2020" list. That's because he combines mesmerising guitar playing, exceptional song writing, and vocals that range from sweet and melodic to raspy and guttural. He’s a total performer, but it’s his bluesy, easy listening guitar playing that lands him on this list.
Vanny Tonon – Italy
Vanny Tonon is a graduate of the Italian Conservatory of Adria. He made it to the Guinness World Book 2012 as 2011’s fastest guitar player, then won the MaF 2014 Italian Guitar Contest in 2014. Tonon is known for his fast, heavy riffs, and in an interview with GuitarWorld, he explained how he starts making music from a melodic idea or a chord progression before zoning in on his sound. Depending on his mood, Tonon often begins with either no effects, or from a specific sound like an Eventide H9 Max harmoniser or modulation, before “transferring” his feelings into music. This is why Tonon’s music flows from one genre to the other, and can be dark and heavy one time, and haunting and melancholic the next. For a true master of the instrument you must listen to Vanny Tonon.
Jack McEwan – Australia
Australia’s Jack McEwan, who was born in the UK, is the guitarist and leader of Psychedelic Porn Trumpets (PPT). They are one of the hottest bands in psych rock at the moment thanks to their 2019 album, And Now For The Whatchamacallit, released in May. McEwan detailed in an interview how he just records “a bunch of music” in his bedroom using his Ableton setup until he gets carried away into writing the actual songs. The result is PPT’s mind-bending music full of distorted guitar sounds, electronica, and dizzying solos.
Felix Martin – Venezuela
Felix Martin is a genius on guitars with a self-taught tapping style that, according to LA Weekly, necessitated Martin’s need for custom-built 14- and 16-string guitars. “You don’t see my guitars in music stores,” says Martin, whose guitar playing is a fusion of progressive rock, heavy metal, and traditional Latin music. Add to that his unique tapping style, where he plays notes using solely the neck of his instrument, and the result is a sound that is distinctively Martin’s. It’s bouncy and full of intricate beats but is also surprisingly catchy and entrancing. That’s no surprise as the left-handed Venezuelan has been a star of the guitar world for the better part of the decade.
Ekachai Jearakul – Thailand
Ekachai Jearakul is the only classical guitar player on this list. Jearakul majored in classical guitar at Mahidol University in Thailand, and then completed a master’s degree in classical guitar performance at the University Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He has since been representing Thailand in classical guitar competitions worldwide, all while giving award-winning solo performances in various countries. His sound is classy, classic, and calming — the perfect counterpoint to today’s distressing time.
Cover Image: Fender/YouTube
Writer | Kelly Gothier
Kelly Gothier is a freelance developer with a fascination for all things music. When she’s not typing up code, Kelly enjoys playing the guitar, watching live performances, and playing with her cat, Jimi.