Players who changed the game
Forget the spandex-wrapped, dive-bombing antics of the 1980s; the real golden era of shred guitar was the ’50s.
They didn’t call it shred back then, of course, and most of the action took place in Nashville, not on LA’s Sunset Strip.
Cats like Telecaster pioneer Jimmy Bryant, Nashville producer Chet Atkins and actor/singer/picker Jerry Reed played fast and clean. These guys, and the other 12 pickers on our list, raised the game for country guitar and inspired the current crop of Telecaster-spankers like Brad Paisley, Cousin Kenny Vaughan and John 5.