Richard Lloyd (Television, Matthew Sweet, Rocket From The Tombs)
I talk to younger people who don't realize that Andy Summers remade pop and rock guitar in his wake in The Police, with his sound and approach turning up everywhere from Rush and Def Leppard to every mainstream pop or R&B hit for the next decade+. I went through that for some bandmates by playing all of that stuff and demonstrating how his playing and sound on certain songs directly influenced tracks that followed. They'd never thought about it and assumed he was following the trends at the time, not setting them.
mick taylor-mayall.stones brad whitford-aerosmith bill nelson-be bop deluxe alex lifeson-rush brian robertson-thin lizzy scott gorham-thin lizzy tommy bolin-b.cobham,purple, hughie thomasson-outlaws billy jones-outlaws james honeyman scott-pretenders rory gallagher-taste,solo martin barre-jethro tull frank zappa toy caldwell-marshall tucker robin trower frank marino-mahoghany rush
Loc: Jackson Heights, NY
+1 on Joni Mitchell - she's a fine rhythm guitarist and her use of tunings is brilliant. Most of my heroes are very highly rated, at least in the small circle of friends that appreciates guitar excellence. One example: Amos Garrett, who was never a household name but highly regarded in the fraternity. Maybe Buzz Feiten for rhythm playing, such as on "Jungle Walk" from the Rascal's "Island of Real". I agree that Paul Simon is underrated as a guitarist.
I'M underrated by certain people, LOL..... but they know nothing about music, so I don't strictly speaking, CARE too much.....
Who knows .... but most of the guys listed in this thread seem to be pretty well recognized to me.
There are some guys who are not underated by people who know who they are but not alot of people know who they are. Guys that are not household names but respected in guitar circles would be people like Louie Shelton, Tommy Tedesco (RIP), Scotty Anderson, David Lindley ....
Some guys who are well known but not thought of as great guitarist could include Christopher Cross, Steve Miller ...etc ( Steve Miller in the day could do some stuff that is hard to duplicate )
"In the old days wrong notes were the right of the genius" - Arrau
Loc: Lincoln Park, MI, UNITED STATE...
I've noticed the names of players who were largely unheard of by the larger public, but not underrated by those that have heard of them, like Healy.
The OP might have been intending those that just about anyone has heard of, but doesn't consider their skills, like Summers. Their recordings might not showcase the typical "incidiary solo" that's considered the "hallmark" of a guitar "hero", but closer listening reveals abilities that simply astound the average guitar "hack". Or at least a better ability than previously believed. Which is why I put BOB DYLAN on the list.
Bob will NEVER give those like Steve Vai or Jon Bonamassa any worries of a "run for their money". But a closer listen to some of what he's done on his debut, self titled album BOB DYLAN(1962) shows he had better skills than a simple folk music singer/songwriter. He even does some crude but passable slide work(referred to as "fretting" in the liner notes).
DAVE MATTHEWS is another whose guitar work gets ovrlooked.
Last of all, ELVIS PRESLEY, on his 1968 "Singer" TV special, has a small part on there that showed he knew his way around a fretboard.
I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
Loc: Jackson Heights, NY
There's a great acoustic 12-string player out there named James Blackshaw. I have his "The Cloud of Unknowing" album; he's got a unique approach, no Leo Kottke clone he! Worth checking out on You Tube.
Paul Moak, who's a session player & producer in the Nashville area, is never mentioned. Aside from his playing ability & note choice, he has a real ear for sonic texturing, and somehow gets away with putting some really fuzzed out guitar tones on otherwise sparkly-pop songs.
Andrew Osenga (solo, sessions, the Normals, Caedmon's Call) may not be a Vai-type firebreather, but knows his way around a Memory Man. Not to mention acoustic fingerpicking and a heartfelt lead or three.
And I always have to throw a plug for Steve Rothery of Marillion. While his most challenging leads may be on older albums, and I think some of the last couple had some throw away/phoned in simple leads, when he rips a good one, he rips a good one with all the heart, feel & vibrato of David Gilmour and then some. It's also easy to overlook a lot of his textural work with delays, tremelos and various other effects that you might not think it's the guitar playing it. (Plus I'll be going to Montreal next month to see them for a weekend)
John Wesley is getting some more notice as a live sideman for Porcupine tree, but is an established solo artist on his own, as well.
"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion) NEW band Old band
Loc: Inside the Beltway
Steve Hackett gets my vote. Even among guitarists, he never achieved the sort of Guitar Hero status that Steve Howe got. A true master of the instrument, and a major innovator, Hackett is credited with having invented tapping, on the Genesis track Return of the Giant Hogweed. (EVH fans can argue if they like, but try to play that opening riff.) I saw him at a small D.C. club in 1980 or so, with one of the first Roland synth guitar rigs, the one that looked like an LP. Great night.
"Minds were made to be blown." - Mr. Natural
Loc: Hwy 49, California
Got to throw in Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and all those guit pick'en singer song writers out there...it's not always about leads, I just find it cool how they string chords together while coming up with new melody lines...and if they can play a few lead licks, that's cool too.
Okay hang on-this came up before with the `underrated players` topic. There`s underrated, and there`s unrated. For anyone who follows guitar Frank Gambale is in a class by himself. For the general listening public he is unrated, they have no clue. There are more besides him, Tommy Emmanuel comes to mind. I guess the upshot is, underrated by whom? In fact, I don`t know that a rating system even applies to the general audience-like they give a crap. So among those who listen to music and really listen, many of those listed so far are anything but underrated.
Same old surprises, brand new cliches-