This category (my last for those who are sick of it) has been the most difficult. So many worthy artists, and very hard to differentiate. So I've done something a little different: I have ONE winner, and TWO tiers below him. This means that I admit I can't distinguish the tiers within themselves, only tier one from tier 2.
Some will disagree, perhaps viscerally, with my selections (if anyone reads this at all). There'll be some "no way (tier one guy) is better than (tier two guy). There's also a fair few that aren't on my list at all. But I can't have 30 runners-up. So I made my cuts where I chose, you make yours where you like. So how did I decide? Not necessarily based on my own tastes, though that certainly factors in. Throughout this project, I've included people/bands that I don't particularly like, but I recognize the talent. Lead guitar in particular is not just about notes per second or even complexity; you have to make the instrument sing, cry, wail!
First, a few Honorable Mentions (also in no particular order, and only a few videos):
Phil Collen/Steve Clark
Eddie Van Halen
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Whichever one of these girls is playing lead guitar/Kerry Livgren
Whoever this is playing with Roxette. I searched and can't pin down who it is. Likely Christoffer Lundquist, but I'm not positive. Feel free to clue me in.
Second Tier Runners-up (any order)
First Tier Runners-up (any order)
Randy Rhoads (I love how Ozzy scratches his head then looks at it at the 1:30 mark. Head & Shoulders, Oz?
Can't embed, but you gotta hear it!
Winner, and Greatest Guitarist of All Time
Thanks for playing along at home, and good night!