When asked why he called his guitar “Trigger”, Willie Nelson explained, “Roy Rogers had a horse named Trigger. I figured: ‘This is my horse!'”

A great way to get your students excited about guitar – and possibly even the history of guitar music – is to ask them to name their instruments. You may hear a lot of “Jimi”, “Stevie”, “Slash” or “Kurt”, but if you’re students need suggestions have them look for these guitar icons. They may be a little less obvious, but they will start your students down a road of musical exploration.

Richie Havens
Richie Havens was made famous for his performance at Woodstock in 1969. His strumming style, arrangements, and unique voice set him apart.

Django Reinhart
One of the first important jazz soloists, Django Reinhart was largely self-taught. After a tragic fire, Reinhart lost the use of two fingers on his left hand. The guitarist adapted his technique to accommodate the injury.

Kaki King
Kaki King is an American-born guitarist and composer. She is known for her percussive style and musical experimentation. King worked with artists to project visual imagery onto her and her guitar to augment her live performance.

Yngwie Malmsteen
Some people call Yngwie Malmsteen “Neo-Classical” others call him the best hard rock guitarist around. This Swedish-born guitarist will run scales faster than you can say, “Phrygian”.

Muriel Anderson
Muriel Anderson is the first woman to have ever won the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship. Anderson’s playing easily crosses musical genres.

Lightnin’ Hopkins
Hopkin’s blues career started in Texas. His fingerstyle playing encompassed melody, bass, and percussion.

The Australian-born Orianthi began playing professionally at age 14. When she was fifteen, Orianthi jammed on stage with Steve Vai and eventually became Michael Jackson’s guitarist.

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is known for her open-tuned songs on guitar. She has written songs in 50 different tunings in what she termed, “Joni’s weird chords”.

Paco De Lucia
Paco De Lucia was a Spanish flamenco guitarist who helped to usher in the New Flamenco style in Spain. He was also one of the few flamenco artists to make successful crossovers into other genres such as classical and jazz.