5 Albums EVERY Guitarist Need to Hear

Some of the best guitarists in the world play in the weirdest and wackiest of genres. 

Unless you listen to these genres, you likely won't ever find about them.

However, there are certain albums that transcend the limitations of genre or style. The sorts of albums that make every guitarist stand up and say "wow - that's impressive".

Here are 4 albums (in no particular order) that you just need to hear for yourself. Forget what you're into, forget what you like - listening to these players will change the way you think about the guitar.


#5 Elegant Gypsy - Al di Meola

A crazy blend of jazz, fusion and latin, this album was waaay ahead of its time (released in 1977).

This is great inspiration for acoustic players, but really there's something for everyone in this album. 



#4 The Ages - Hybrid Nightmares

Just screwing with you. That's my release. It's great and I encourage you to check it out, but no, it's not on the list.


#4 (for real this time) Diary of a Madman - Ozzy Osbourne

This was guitarist Randy Rhoads last album in a very short career, but the title track is an amazing neo-classical crossover song. That solo ain't just a bunch of pentatonic licks tacked together!

The rest of the album is great for checking out some quick 80s shred guitar too, though Ozzy's first album, Crazy Train, is probably a better example of that style.


#3 Metal Fatigue - Allan Holdsworth

Cited as a huge influence on many modern metal and fusion guitarists, Allan Holdsworth sadly passed away this week aged 70.

I don't find his music "enjoyable" to listen to (I love fusion licks, but not the genre itself), but every time I listen back I'm blown away by the structure, the speed, the amount of western music rules being broken masterfully.

According to local legend, when Allan toured Australia, he ate almost exclusively at one local fish and chip shop, proving that a cultured musician does not necessarily need to be a cultured gourmand too.


#2 Erotic Cakes - Guthrie Govan

The man who became known to guitarists worldwide through YouTube, Guthrie is a master of tasteful shred guitar. His diverse range of influences show how you can play fast and still play good music.

I was lucky enough to attend a clinic with Guthrie a few years ago, where he shared two of his biggest secrets - focus on what you do and do it well (he readily admits he doesn't play acoustic or with his fingers, as that's not his instrument), and staying relaxed and in control has a huge impact on your tone.

Other than this album, Guthrie has featured in many guest solo spots, as well as performing with The Aristocrats, Asia, Steven Wilson and Hans Zimmer.


#1 Only - Tommy Emmanuel

The "Certified Guitar Player" as recognised by Chet Atkins, Tommy Emmanuel is hard to top when it comes to beautiful chord voicings played in a contemporary, solo or duet setting. 

I have had to rethink at least 3 fundamental techniques to be able to play like Tommy, which is in part due to the self-taught nature of his journey as a guitarist but also due to the unique way that he approaches the guitar.

This album in particular is a wholly acoustic experience, which is wear I feel Tommy excels. It's hard to stream but is well worth the effort.


There are plenty more albums that could probably reside on this list, so which ones would you recommend?