Who is your overall favorite guitarist?

At 44 years of age, I personally feel fortunate to have lived in an era along with some of the finest guitarists who have ever lived. I have always had an overwhelming love of music. As I look back to my earlier years of music appreciation (I took formal piano training for 17 years) I remember how my instructor would suggest exposing myself to the many different styles and disciplines of music.

These were such valuable words of wisdom. Considering the fact that this suggestion, more or less, forced me to be more open to musicians other than those that played in strictly rock and roll bands.

Wow, was I surprised to find that I could be as entertained by Chet Atkins and Les Paul as I could be by Ritchie Blackmore or Carlos Santana. Just think about some of the finest from our time. Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Robin Trower, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Johnson, Steve Howe, Al DiMeola, the list could seem almost endless. All such incredible musicians.

Although it's very hard to pick one person or style in particular, let's remember the key words, "overall favorite".
I would probably have to say that my overall favorite would have to be Steve Morse (from Dixie Dregs fame).

Who is your favorite?
I'm not sure how you decide this, but I noticed on this site, Factory direct, that Acoustic Disc has a new cd coming out which features over 20 guitarists and 20 mandolinists each playing on the same two vintage instruments.

What a great way to compare styles of David Bromberg,
Del McCoury, John Jorgenson, Tony Rice, Martin Taylor...
etc. etc.

It's called Tone Poets
I'm stunned that no one has mentioned Harvey Reid, certainly one of the best guitar players around. If you're not aware of him, check out www.woodpecker.com
As a guitarist (a hack compared to many) I love so many players but for me the overall honours right now goes hands down to fusion guitarist Guthrie Govan. Not only does his technique push the physical boundaries (well past Vai...who I have much respect for) but he also possesses the capacity to play any style at the absolute highest level. Very scary to see one person with so much talent.
One of the most right on the night I heard him was Gurf Morlix when he accompanied Lucinda Williams on tour about 8 years ago. His support of her phrasing was sublime, just impeccable taste that first and foremost always served the song. Never a wrong note, never an unnessary note.