4 of the Most Underrated Country Guitarists of All Time

Country music has had hundreds of amazing and even legendary guitarists throughout the years. Names like Chet Atkins and Vince Gill are well-known as pioneers of the genre with their incredible guitar-playing talents. But what about the unsung heroes or the legendary performers who maybe haven’t stood the test of time? Let’s examine four of the most underrated country guitarists of all time that you may have not even heard about!

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Please keep in mind that this is far from an exhaustive list. These are just a few names we think country fans should know.

1. Luther Perkins

What has made Luther Perkins so significant to the annals of country guitar playing is his amazing simplicity of style.

Perkins nearly always played with light palm muting in his incredibly unique “Boom-chicka-boom” pattern. The crisp and unforgettable tone of his Fender Esquire with the broken tone and volume control knobs backed Johnny Cash throughout most of his recordings. Perkins’ guitar playing had a major impact on the growth of rockabilly as well. 

2. Hank Garland

The master himself Hank Garland had to be on this list because of his vital contributions to country music, which undoubtedly make him a legend in the genre. 

Garland was best known for his studio sessions with Elvis Presley. However, Garlands’s 1950s work with Patsy Cline, The Everly Brothers, Don Gibson, and many other country greats cemented him as one of the top-tier Nashville session guitarists of his time. His reputation went beyond just songwriting and guitar playing, too. In fact, the guitar company Gibson approached him for help designing the Byrdland guitar.

3. Roy Clark

Roy Clark was always a showman before anything else, even with his considerable skills on the guitar, banjo, violin, and vocals. Still, he deserves a spot on this list of underrated country guitarists!

His long and successful television career was largely attributed to his combined talents as an entertainer, comic, singer, writer, and instrumentalist, most notably as host of Hee Haw from 1969 until 1997.  Honestly, Hee Haw in general and Clark’s hosting chops did more to popularize country music among young Americans than any of the television music shows at the time could. He was a true legend.

4. Albert Lee

Though he is British and not the typical Appalachian-bred country star you’d expect, the hybrid picking and fingerstyle master Albert Lee belongs on this list.

He has collaborated with country greats like Emmylou Harris, The Everly Brothers, and Carlene Carter over his multi-genre career that first began in 1959. More often than not, he played session guitar for these well-known artists rather than leading the band as a frontman.

To this day, he’s referred to as “the guitar player’s guitar player.” There’s even a guitar by Ernie Ball Music Man that was made in his honor. What a legend!

Photo by Larry Busacca

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