The shortlists for “Greatest Guitarist of All Time” are littered with names like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. Indeed, if we’re listing famous virtuosos, then these names are good candidates.
These stars made their names by adding their creative and technical talents on the fretboard to the global arena, engaging with their audiences, as part of some of the most iconic rock groups in history. However, the best guitarist in the world will, in reality, be someone who plugs away religiously, learning every scale in the book and playing them at any rhythm and variation.
If we were to hunt for the most talented guitarist, we would probably have more luck looking in the world of jazz, not rock ‘n’ roll. As with jazz drummers and pianists, the attention to crystal-clear detail is of utmost importance. Many jazz musicians are, therefore, classically trained and can read music with a thorough understanding of the theory behind their sound.
While these jazz guitarists will be pitch-perfect and their plucking fingers naturally nifty across the fretboard, the fastest guitarist ever recorded was not a classical or jazz musician. Of course, if you want to be a fine musician, speed isn’t everything; you will need to work hard on your tone and clarity. But for some, speed is absolutely everything.
In 2011, Russian guitarist Sergei Putyatov set the world record by playing 27 notes per second in May 2011. The previous entries in the Guinness Book of Records were set first by Russian guitarist Viktor Zinchuk in 2002, who played 20 notes per second. This record was later beaten by the Brazilian guitarist Tiago Della Vega, who played 24 notes per second.
The footage below shows Sergei Putyatov’s attempts at breaking the record number of notes played in one second. He plays a 27-note rock progression on his Fender Stratocaster a number of times before finally managing to squeeze the run into just one second. It may not make for the most entertaining song, but ramming that many notes into just one second is still worth it’s weight in pub trivia.