Who Is the World’s Fastest Guitarist?

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Whether on the radio or on one of your dad’s old mixtapes, you must have heard famous rock n roll bands with signature guitar solos in their songs and epic tunes that you cannot help nod your head to. While listening to those fast-paced guitar solos, you might have wondered, who is the fastest player among all legendary players?

The fastest guitar player in the world is John “Dr. Hot Licks” Taylor, according to the Guinness book of world records. John is a guitarist from the USA, who played the guitar at a staggering speed of 620 beats per minute (bpm) without a single error in January 2012.

In this article, we will talk further about John Taylor, the world’s fastest guitarist, his achievements, techniques, and a brief history of the musician. We will further discuss some of the other fastest guitarists in the world with a quick overview of their history and techniques.

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Who Is the World’s Fastest Guitarist?
John ‘Dr Hot Licks’ Taylor

Fastest Guitarist in the World (John Taylor aka Dr. Hot Licks)

When it comes to the world of music, several factors contribute simultaneously to making a musician the absolute best in the world. We are strictly talking about playing speed and have rated the best guitarist with respect to the speed of playing demonstrated by the artist.

John Taylor, also known as Dr. Hot Licks, set the record for the fastest guitar playing in the Guinness book of world records in 2012 by playing a song called ‘Flight of The Bumblebee’ by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov at a jaw-dropping speed of 620 beats per minute beating his previous record of 600 beats per minute.

Interestingly enough, the previous record for fastest playing was also set by the same guy John Taylor in April 2011 when he played the same song, i.e., Flight of The Bumblebee, at a speed of 600 beats per minute. His world record is recognized by Recordsetter, a user-generated record database, and the Guinness Book of World Records.

Who Is the World’s Fastest Guitarist?Who Is the World’s Fastest Guitarist?

Technique Used

To play as fast as he does, John uses alternate picking. A combination of quick up and down movements of the picking hand. A guitar string is struck to produce sound with each up and down motion.

Quick successive strikes on the string and correct finger placement on the fretboard enable the instrumentalist to play the guitar at astonishing speeds.

Other Fast Guitarists

Guitars have been around for a long time, and music involving guitars primarily has seen its peak in the late 1900s, with bands like Metallica, Guns n Roses, etc., taking rock music to another level.

As a result, many great guitarists, with their unique playing styles and fast picking methods, rocked the stage for years. They’re still remembered as the greatest of all times by music fans around the globe. 

Here is the list of some of the fastest and best guitar players to grace the stage with their presence.

GuitaristSignature songTop Strength
Eddie Van HalenEruptionTapping and Whammy bar
Stevie Ray VaughanPride and JoyString Raking
David GilmourComfortably NumbMature Simplicity
Jimi HendricksPurple HazeTapping and Whammy bar
Steve VaiFor The Love of GodTechnical and Harmovic Prowess

Note: this list is in no specific order and all the instrumentalists listed above are equally skilled and have achieved great heights in their musical careers

Let’s talk a bit about the above-mentioned guitarists and what makes them so great at what they do.

Eddie van Halen

Eddie van Halen was an american songwriter, guitarist and co-founder of the Van Halen band. He was most well known for playing rapid arpeggios on the guitar by tapping using his both hands.

His solo in the song Eruption is widely recognized worldwide and is rated by many as one of the best guitar solos in the history of rock music owing to his unique and complex techniques.

Stevie ray Vaughan

With a mainstream career spanning only 7 years due to an untimely death, Stevie ray Vaughan, an American guitarist is regarded as one of the most influential musicians in the history of blues music and is regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

Vaughan used String Raking to create beautiful sounds from his guitar that remain alive in the hearts of his fans even after his death in a helicopter crash in 1990.

David Gilmour

David Gilmour is an English guitarist and songwriter, famously known for his membership in the rock band Pink Floyd. Gilmour’s playing style is simple, mature, and elegant which is attractive to the ears and adds a certain flavor to his songs that only a few can even think of recreating.

With over 250 million copies sold, songs like Comfortably numb earned him an induction into the US Rock and Roll hall of fame in 1996.

Jimi Hendricks

A name that every music fan knows or has at least heard of. Hendricks only had a mainstream career of 4 short years but his work made him well known throughout the world.

Widely regarded as one of the top most influential guitarists and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century, Jimi Hendrix is described by the Rock and Roll hall of fame as the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.

Steve Vai

Steve Vai is an American guitarist and songwriter. He has won three Grammy Awards and has been nominated 15 times.

In his solo career since 1983, Steve has released 8 solo albums in which he has demonstrated unparalleled skill on the guitar, showing his knowledge and command over the fretboard. His work makes him classify as a true guitar virtuoso in the music world.

Who Is the World’s Fastest Guitarist?Who Is the World’s Fastest Guitarist?


Q. How Can I Play Faster Like Rock Band Guitarists?

There are a number of ways to increase your playing speed. You can learn and adapt to techniques like Sweep picking or Alternate picking to allow more sound with less hand movement.

Additionally, you can try to improve coordination between your fretting and picking hand to allow smooth and fast playing.

Q. Is It Possible To Play Rock Song Riffs on an Acoustic Guitar?

This depends on the song that you are trying to play. If it is a slow-paced song with relatively low notes being played, it is entirely possible to use an acoustic guitar. However, things might get tricky if you try to play fast-paced, high notes on an acoustic guitar as you will lose mobility in your fretting hand.

Final Thoughts

Everyone has their own guitar playing style. All that matters in music is the proper context, which signals maturity. As long as you’ve done your homework and use the right techniques, any type of music you play at any speed with your guitar will sound amazing!



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