The guitar has been a vital part of the music in Mexico, thanks to the influence of Spanish music. In Central Mexico, guitars and other string instruments are an integral part of folk and modern music. The Mexican charro traversed the countryside playing guitar music throughout Jalisco, bringing music to the masses.
All over Mexico, Mariachi groups played guitars and sang songs about heroes, love, and life. These famous Mexican guitar players have continued to play folk music, dance music, and modern rock and pop.
1. Carlos Santana (1947-)
Carlos Santana is known as an American guitarist, but he actually was born in Jalisco, Mexico.
He is best known for being the guitarist for the band Santana that blended rock-and-roll with Latin American sounds. His blues-based riffs showcased his ability to command the guitar strings.
In 2015, he earned the distinction of being one of Rolling Stone’s 100 best guitarists, ranking 20th. He has several Grammy Awards and Latin Grammy Awards.
He – along with his Santana bandmates – was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fans can identify his crystal-clear guitar sound in a handful of notes.
2. Sergio Vallín (1972-)
Sergio Vallin is the guitarist in the Mexican band, Maná, along with the lead singer Fher Olvera.
Along with being a prolific guitarist, he played everything, from his own unique compositions to covers from bands like Led Zeppelin and Los Panchos.
He has also co-written music with Carlos Santana, a guitarist he idolized most of his life.
He has two solo albums and several albums with the band Maná. He has written several noteworthy songs that have connections to classic Mexican flamenco and other styles like cumbia.
3. Fher Olvera (1959-)
Fher Olvera is one of the best-known Mexican guitarists of all time, but he is better known as the lead singer for the band Maná that has sold over 40 million albums. He sings alongside guitarist Sergio Vallin.
Olvera first found success in the 1980s, playing in a band called Sombrero Verde. In 1987, the band changed its name to Maná.
Because of his fame in a successful Latin American band, he has had opportunities to collaborate with globally popular musicians like Carlos Santana, Luciano Pavarotti, Shakira, and Miguel Ríos.
4. Ed Maverick (2001-)
Ed Maverick was born Eduardo Hernández Saucedo. The young guitarist plays Mexican folk music, and his fans first learned of him through his social media platforms.
He is a self-taught guitarist who began writing his music at age 16. Fans quickly loved his music for its romantic sadness.
He signed with Universal Music Group in 2018 and quickly became a popular rising artist on Spotify. No Mexican musician has sold-out concert dates faster than Ed Maverick. His debut album, Mix pa’ llorar en tu cuarto, went gold.
5. Gabriela Quintero (1973-)
Gabriela Quintero is the lone female guitarist on this list. She is one of the popular dueling guitarists in the duo Rodrigo y Gabriela.
The pair has released over a dozen albums, and they’ve performed in front of President Barack Obama.
She’s been playing in Rodrigo y Gabriela since 2000, and she first met Rodrigo Sanchez when she was 15 years old. They dated for several years and broke up in 2012.
Their album Mettavolution won the Best Contemporary Instrumental Album Grammy in January 2020.
She is a professional guitarist who plays a unique style that is a mixture of nuevo flamenco, rock-and-roll, and heavy metal.
6. Abraham Laboriel (1947-)
While Abraham Laboriel might not be a household name, his music has been played all over the world as the Mexican-American session bassist has performed on over 4,000 recordings.
He grew up in a musical family with parents who were Honduran Garifuna immigrants.
Labroriel is a classically trained guitarist but switched to playing bass in the 1970s.
He played with musicians like Henry Mancini, Olivia Newton-John, Al Jarreau, DeBarge, Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Quincy Jones.
He recorded several albums with the two bands he founded: Friendship and Koinonia. When not playing bass for iconic musicians, he records Christian music.
7. Chamín Correa (1929-2020)
Chamín Correa was a well-known guitarist who was a member of the band Los Tres Caballeros in the 1950s.
He was from a musically talented family and began playing guitar at the age of five. He learned the classical guitar and began performing when he was 11 years old.
Correa played on over 150 albums. He became a master on the Requinto Guitar, where he played in front of fans for over 60 years.
He played with musicians like Dave Brubeck, Joan Baez, Gloria Estefan, and Luis Miguel.
Along with performing, he also directed and produced for other popular Latino artists, including Julio Iglesias, Flor Silvestre, and José José.
His instrumental album featured his skills on several guitars, including electric bass, fife, electric guitar, classical guitar, and steel guitar – just to name a few.
8. Hugo Fernandez (1945-)
Hugo Fernandez was born in Mexico, but he is a famous guitarist in Europe.
He first found fame at age 18 playing Mexican pop music, then studied jazz guitar at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Before the turn of the millennium, he taught guitar in Mexico City, then moved to the United States to earn his master’s degree.
In 2001, he formed his eponymous Hugo Fernandez Quartet that played bebop jazz. A few years later, he moved to Spain and played jazz music with singer Lola Botello.
Since then, he’s played in several jazz festivals and moved to Berlin, where he continues to play and record.
His most recent record was Naualli, which was recorded with the Hugo Fernandez Quintet in 2018.
While he’s best known for his jazz sound, he also adds classical, pop, rock, and folk music to create his unique sound.
9. Rodrigo Sánchez (1974-)
The other half of Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, Rodrigo Sánchez began their career in Ireland but now reside in Mexico City.
They have five studio albums, and have played on Hans Zimmer soundtracks like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
The pair plays their original songs and covers from bands like Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Pink Floyd, and Megadeth.
They played live on the Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
One of their songs was featured in an episode of Breaking Bad, and they’ve been featured on MTV in the United States.
10. Saúl Hernández (1964-)
Saúl Hernández is a Mexican guitarist who also sings and writes music and poetry.
He is the lead singer of the bands Jaguares and Caifanes. The band Caifanes first performed in 1987 with Hernández playing alongside Sabo Romo, Diego Herrera, and Alfonso Andre.
After Caifanes broke up, he and Andre formed the band Jaguares in the mid-1990s. Both bands played “rock en español” music that made them famous and commercially successful.
The Caifanes band reunited in 2010, and in 2019, Jaguares played together at the Machaca Fest in Monterrey, Mexico.
As the guitarist for two of the most popular rock en español bands, he has become an icon for young musicians looking to make their name in Spanish rock and roll.
11. Sabo Romo (1943-)
Sabo Romo was a founding member of the band Caifanes with Saúl Hernández. He also played bass, guitar, and drums.
His first band was a light jazz band named Manhattan. When he formed Caifanes in 1987, he and his bandmates toured the world playing live.
He is known as the best Latin American Bass Player and with Caifanes and other musicians, he has sold over 10 million albums.
Despite being considered a Mexican guitarist, he was born in Chile. He does not play often anymore but is still involved in producing artists.
12. Charlie Monttana (1961-2020)
Charlie Monttana was born Carlos César Sánchez Hernández. He became famous in the 1980s as a singer and guitarist in Mexico City’s rock urbano circuit.
He was easy to recognize by his glam rock styling with leather, lace, and big hair.
His original songs had a sense of humor with their light-hearted titles like “Por Qué El Amor Apesta” (“Why Love Stinks”) and “Vaquero Rocanrolero” (Rock And Roll Cowboy).
He eventually created a charity that donated time and money to support homeless children and elderly adults.
Summing Up Our List of The Greatest Mexican Guitarists
These famous Mexican guitarists play a variety of styles of music.
From classical folk to flamenco to Spanish rock and rock, Mexican guitarists offer something for all musical tastes.