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Who Is The Best Grunge Guitarist?

The grunge movement of the early 90′s was one of the most important things to happen in rock music.  The song writers get a lot of the credit, but it also made way for some pretty great guitar players too.

Pearl Jams Mike McCready. Photo by Getty Images

In rock music there are a lot of average guitar players.  There are some good guitar players, but there are few great guitar players.  Some of the guys to come out of the grunge scene could be classified as some of the best in the biz though.

Grunge is something that can be covered by many, but can never be repeated.  I am a big fan of a lot of this music, as I grew up with it.  My personal favorite guitarist of the genre would be Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains.  He has so much talent, it’s hard to label him as a “grunge guitar player”.  I think ti takes more than just making your music sound dirty to be grunge and these axe men did a great job of shaping the image of the music.

5. Kurt Cobain – Nirvana


As much as I like to knock on Kurt Cobain, I can’t take away the influence he has had on the world. I don’t think he is a spectacular guitar player, but I have to put him on this list. His sound is what the grunge movement was all about. His dirt riffs helped to kick hair metal out of the way and make way for some truly great music.

4. Bruce Fairweather – Mother Love Bone, Green River, Malfunkshun


Fairweather may not be as well known as some of the other guys on this list but he was a big part of some of the bands considered to be the “god fathers of grunge”.  I am a big fan his big heavy riffs and he has a big blues influence to it.  If you haven’t listened to his stuff, then make sure to look some up.

3. Kim Thayil – Soundgarden


Soundgarden may be responsible for some of the most recognizable riffs of the grunge scene. That’s thanks in part to guitar player Kim Thayil who shreds on stage for them to this day. My favorite work of his is “Jesus Christ Pose”, which you can hear in the clip above.

2. Mike McCready – Pearl Jam


I have always been a fan of his work. It was a close race to the top, but I have to put McCready in the 2 spot, despite my love for Pearl Jam. His solo’s continually get more and more inventive has time goes on. I think when all is said and done he will be considered one of the best guitar players period.

1. Jerry Cantrell – Alice In Chains


Not only is Jerry Cantrell the best grunge guitar player, he probably one of the best song writers and harmonizers in the rock business. He is what gave AIC that eerie sound that we all love. I don’t think you can argue with him being at number one. I mean that opening riff to “Check My Brain” sends chills up your spin. If it doesn’t, you might want to check your pulse.

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