bands/musicians The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists  

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2.8k votes 396 voters 62.3k views 234 items

For instrumental rock bands, the key to success lies in the music. While this may seem obvious, unlike other rock bands, instrumental rock bands have few, if any lyrics to express themselves. Thus, the music they create speaks volumes more than any lyrics can. While the instrumental rock was at its peak during the 1950s and 1960s, there hasn't been a shortage of good instrumental bands that have emerged since then. To some, instrumental rock can also be called post-rock. Instrumental rock artists, at least presently, are widely regarded as virtuosos especially those who play guitars.

So, who are the instrumental rock bands and instrumental artists on this list? You'll see familiar names like Stevie Vai, Joe Satriani, Buckethead and Booker T and the MGs. All of these instrumental rock bands played an important role in shaping and pushing rock music beyond the traditional song structure. At the same time, some of these artists' music was so strong that it had to be played on mainstream pop and rock radio.

That said, take a look at this list and you'll see the best instrumental rock bands and top instrumental rock artists. This should serve as a great point of reference if you're a fan of instrumental rock bands. This list answers the questions "who are the best instrumental rock bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest instrumental rock musician ever?"
list ordered by

1
60 26
The Ventures is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
The Ventures Rock music, Instrumental rock, Surf rock

2
81 52
Joe Satriani is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Joe Satriani Rock music, Instrumental rock, Heavy metal

3
25 11
The Mahavishnu Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
The Mahavishnu Orchestra Instrumental rock, Jazz fusion, Jazz

4
28 14
Booker T. & the M.G.'s is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Booker T. & the M.G.'s Southern soul, Instrumental rock, Electric blues

5
54 38
Buckethead is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Buckethead Noise rock, Dark ambient, Space rock

6
25 13
Dick Dale is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Dick Dale Instrumental rock, Heavy metal, Pop rock

7
30 18
Paul Gilbert is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Paul Gilbert Thrash metal, Progressive metal, Instrumental rock

8
27 17
Focus is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Focus Nederpop, Rock music, Instrumental rock

9
22 13
Robert Fripp is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Robert Fripp New Wave, Experimental rock, Instrumental rock

10
23 14
Link Wray is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Link Wray Rock music, Rockabilly, Instrumental rock

11
18 10
Dweezil Zappa is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Dweezil Zappa Pop music, Rock music, Instrumental rock

12
22 14
The Shadows is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
The Shadows Pop music, Rock music, Instrumental rock

13
46 38
Steve Vai is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Steve Vai Progressive metal, Experimental rock, Instrumental rock

14
21 14
Al Di Meola is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Al Di Meola Chicano rock, Rock music, Instrumental rock

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15
10 4
Eloy Fritsch is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Lauren Veronese added Eloy Fritsch New Age music, Electronic music, Progressive rock

16
12 7
The Outlaws is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
The Outlaws Pop music, Rock music, Instrumental rock

17
34 30
John Petrucci is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
John Petrucci Progressive metal, Instrumental rock, Jazz fusion

18
27 23
Steve Howe is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Steve Howe Pop music, Instrumental rock, Jazz fusion

19
14 11
The Tornados is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
The Tornados Pop music, Rock music, Instrumental rock

20
18 17
Eric Johnson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Eric Johnson New Age, Rock music, Instrumental rock

21
19 19
Explosions in the Sky is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Explosions in the Sky Shoegazing, Rock music, Instrumental rock

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22
29 30
Liquid Tension Experiment is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Liquid Tension Experiment Progressive metal, Instrumental rock, Jazz fusion

23
17 17
Animals as Leaders is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Animals as Leaders Progressive metal, Instrumental rock, Heavy metal

24
14 14
Mogwai is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Mogwai Shoegazing, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
15 16
Ozric Tentacles is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Ozric Tentacles Space rock, Electronic music, Instrumental rock

26
13 14
Russian Circles is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Russian Circles Post-metal, Rock music, Instrumental rock

27
1 1
Plini is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Zooropa_Station added Plini Progressive Rock, Instrumental

28
1 1
Stomu Yamashta is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Mark Lanzarotta added Stomu Yamashta

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29
17 19
Apocalyptica is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Apocalyptica Thrash metal, Progressive metal, Cello rock

30
6 7
Marty Friedman is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Marty Friedman Glam metal, J-pop, Heavy metal

31
14 16
Godspeed You! Black Emperor is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Dark ambient, Space rock, Experimental rock

32
5 6
Allan Holdsworth is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Allan Holdsworth Instrumental rock, Jazz fusion, Jazz

33
9 11
Steve Stevens is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Steve Stevens Glam metal, New Wave, Rock music

34
24 28
Yngwie Malmsteen is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Yngwie Malmsteen Glam metal, Progressive metal, Instrumental rock

35
0 1
Intervals is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Zooropa_Station added Intervals Progressive

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36
13 16
Steve Morse is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Steve Morse Fusion, Rock music, Instrumental rock

37
12 15
John 5 is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
John 5 Industrial metal, Instrumental rock, Flamenco

38
10 13
God is an Astronaut is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
God is an Astronaut Space rock, Instrumental rock, Post-rock

39
3 5
Jason Becker is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Jason Becker Instrumental rock, Heavy metal, Neo-classical metal

40
6 9
Jeff Loomis is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Jeff Loomis Thrash metal, Progressive metal, Groove metal

41
6 9
This Will Destroy You is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
This Will Destroy You Experimental rock, Instrumental rock, Drone music

42
6 9
Caspian is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Caspian Post-metal, Instrumental rock, Experimental music

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43
11 15
Scale the Summit is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Scale the Summit Progressive metal, Instrumental rock, Progressive rock

44
4 7
Tony MacAlpine is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Tony MacAlpine Progressive metal, Fusion, Instrumental rock

45
3 6
Jordan Rudess is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Jordan Rudess Progressive metal, New Age music, Electronic music

46
3 6
Greg Ginn is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Greg Ginn Instrumental rock, Heavy metal, Punk jazz

47
8 12
Greg Howe is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Greg Howe Instrumental rock, Jazz fusion, Hard rock

48
8 12
Mono is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Mono Post-metal, Instrumental rock, Post-rock

49
2 5
Hank Marvin is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
Hank Marvin Rock music, Instrumental rock, Gypsy jazz

50
2 5
The Black Mages is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Instrumental Rock Bands/Artists
The Black Mages Neo-progressive rock, Progressive metal, Rock music