Who wielded the axe best in 2013? Guitar players are often at the forefront of their bands, commanding the lead section with attitude, force and dexterity. Guitarists can make an impact in a multitude of ways, but we're leaving it to the fans to decide who left the deepest mark this past year with your votes in the 3rd Annual Loudwire Music Awards.

Our nominees include a number of rock and metal's finest guitarists, all of whom released new material in 2013. These axe slingers upped their games this year, whether through powerful riffing, blistering solos, grand concepts + other dynamics. Who deserves the title of Best Guitarist of 2013? Vote for your favorite in the poll below!

  • Charles Epting, Loudwire

    Jerry Cantrell

    Alice in Chains

    Few alternative rock / grunge acts can boast the longevity of Alice in Chains. Led by guitarist / vocalist Jerry Cantrell, Alice in Chains penned the awesome 'The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here' album, which features some of the heaviest riffing on Cantrell's career. The alt icon's songwriting is atmospheric and to-the-point, beautifully bending single notes and switching from distorted to clean sounds to create an uneasy atmosphere.

  • Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com

    Jim Root

    Slipknot / Stone Sour

    Jim Root may be most famous for dawning a mask for Slipknot, but the axe-man also acts as the central guitar force of Stone Sour. Root and the rest of Stone Sour gained critical praise for 'House of Gold & Bones - Part 2,' which revolves heavily around Root's playing along with Corey Taylor's voice. To cap off 2013, Root announced that he would begin working on Slipknot's highly anticipated fifth studio album.

  • Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com

    John 5

    Rob Zombie

    John 5 can basically play anything. The axe-slinger's repertoire consists of rock, metal, industrial, bluegrass, country, flamenco + more. In 2013, John 5 dawned his guitar for Rob Zombie's newest album, 'Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor.' The multi-talented shredder also racked up some songwriting credits on tracks such as 'Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown' and 'Lucifer Rising.'

  • Robert Cianflone, Getty Images

    John Petrucci

    Dream Theater

    Prog master John Petrucci had yet another great year in 2013, releasing a new album with Dream Theater that further cemented his place as one of the greatest prog players of all time. The band's self-titled release is also notably heavier than past records, with Petrucci paying extremely close attention to tone. The shredder produced a sound comparable to a screaming T-Rex mixed with delicious chocolate cake.

  • YouTube

    Luc Lemay


    Gorguts frontman Luc Lemay dedicated an incredible amount of time and energy into creating 'Colored Sands,' the conceptual masterpiece that topped our 10 Best Metal Albums of 2013 list. Intense dissonance, atonal themes and ultra-technical playing is spattered throughout the album, and you simply can't hear 'Colored Sands' without being blown away by Luc Lemay.

  • Vagrant Records

    Luke Hoskin and Tim Millar

    Protest the Hero

    When listening to Protest the Hero's 'Volition,' you simply can't mention one of the band's guitarists without naming the other. Tim Millar and Luke Hoskin unleashed some insane work for 'Volition,' engaging each other in full-on guitar battles on tracks such as 'Drumhead Trial.' The duo's impeccable sense of timing, precision and speed is phenomenal, and it would be a crime not to acknowledge them here.

  • Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com

    Mark Tremonti

    Alter Bridge / Tremonti

    Mark Tremonti is one of hard rock's finest guitarists. Thanks to Alter Bridge and his eponymous solo project, Tremonti has been able to show off his shredding skills more so than ever before. This year, Alter Bridge released 'Fortress,' which is an ambitious rock record that showcases the best of Tremonti.

  • Metal Blade

    Robin Staps

    The Ocean

    The Ocean mastermind Robin Staps has an impressive discography to fall back on, but the guitarist brought the band's sound forward yet again with 'Pelagial.' Staps' playing is brilliantly constructed throughout 'Pelagial,' both technically and conceptually. Staps elevated himself into a truly elite rank in 2013, and we highly recommend you check out 'Pelagial' if you haven't gotten a chance to quite yet.

  • Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com

    Synyster Gates

    Avenged Sevenfold

    Avenged Sevenfold are one of rock's biggest bands, and the technical skill of Synyster Gates is unmistakable. Gates put down some of his signature playing for Avenged Sevenfold's 2013 album, 'Hail to the King,' receiving massive praise from the band's incredibly dedicated fan base.

  • Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com

    Tony Iommi

    Black Sabbath

    What is there left to be said about Tony Iommi? He's the master of the riff and he's the godfather of metal! In recent years, he's been fighting off lymphoma while recording new music and touring around the world. Black Sabbath's '13' saw some of Iommi's best riffing to date, further developing his signature style while remaining fresh and hugely powerful.