I am confused as to why John Mayer is not considered par with other guitarists like BB King, Eric Clapton, etc. when he can and produces so difficult songs to play even for advanced level guitarists like Neon, Stop this train, and many more.

P.S: I've been playing guitar only for about a year, which could be one of the reasons for not understanding the music of Eric Clapton, BB King.

  • 1
    Whay do you mean by is not considered par with other guitarists like BB King, Eric Clapton, etc.? He won Grammy awards, MTV awards and other ones, he made the front page of Rolling Stone magazine with the title Guitar Gods what do you want more?
    – Bebs
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 7:58
  • I think he is considered one of the best of his generation.
    – doc
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 9:51

3 Answers 3


I think that the original response is a little unfair given the self-proclaimed inexperience of the questioner.

It all largely comes down to a matter of taste. Music buyers (you and me) on the whole don't buy CDs because someone's won some Grammys and so forth. We buy it for the feel, the groove, the thrill, the excitement.

Clapton is revered because of his playing in the '60s with John Mayall, Cream, hanging out with Hendrix, his solo work in the '70s, and, of course: Layla (deh-deh-deh daah...). England during the 1960s boasted guitarists of the calibre of Jeff Beck, Peter Green, Keith Richards, Blackmore, Iommi, Pete Townsend, Jimmy Page, and at his best with the Bluesbreakers and with Cream, Clapton was the best of the lot. I wasn't around in the '60, but these guitarists are still revered to this day. Guitarists who followed, for example, Peter Frampton, Brian May or Mark Knopfler, are considered to be very good but can never be the same. It is like comparing the writing of, I don't know, say, The West Wing or The Sopranos with Shakespeare. They may be very good, with touches of excellence, but they can never, however unfairly, reach the pinnacle.

BB King belongs to a whole different tradition, to a time of segregation, and a world that has hopefully passed forevermore. King was born in 1925 so the Abolition could still have been within living memory to those around him. King's music reaches back to artists such as Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bill Broonzy, way, way back to Charlie Patton and Elder Burch. If you can, check out the American Epic series.

King was as part of the Blues in the post-war years as Clapton was of the 1960s.

Mayer on the other hand is just a bit dull and boring. Technical proficiency is not the same as thrill and excitement.

To people growing up in the 1990s Prince or Slash or Cobain may well be the guitar idol of taste.

In the end, it all comes down to a matter of personal taste.


Mayer is known as a great guitarist, but not a particularly innovative one. The guitarists you cited were of an earlier generation, and helped pioneer the characteristic sound of the electric guitar. In general, all the most celebrated guitarists have their own distinctive, instantly recognizable sound, which they either created or popularized.

It is, however, worth noting that --particularly in the early days of rock --any number of white rock musicians became famous by imitating the pioneering work of lesser-known black musicians.

Eric Clapton, in particular, has always been very open about his debt to black American blues musicians, and has frequently promoted their work in an attempt to redress the imbalance --his album with BB King being a prime example.


John Mayer now plays with Dead and company. And guitar excellence is part of their tradition. Especially improvisation. I'm a Deadhead but not a big JM booster, but I recognize his skill. He does a pretty good job of exploring the improvisational space the Dead allow him.

So, it is my humble opinion that he IS considered on par as witnessed by his membership in the revival Dead and Company. My opinion is buttressed by Eric Clapton who considers him a 'master guitarist'.

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    Ok It is my humble opinion that he IS considered on Par as witnessed by his membership in the revival Dead and Company. My Opinion is buttressed by Eric Clapton who considers him a 'master Guitarist' youtube.com/watch?v=tzfrXiD1_Rg
    – Tony
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 19:50
  • Derek Trucks has him beat however.
    – Tony
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 19:52

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