I guess at this site we’re looking primarily at bluegrass players. I don’t know what best means either, but some of my favorites:
Mandolin: Joe Walsh and Tim O’Brien. Sam Bush and Sarah Jarosch are in the mix too. I actually don’t care much for Thile. I don’t know why, I guess I like to imagine myself playing the stuff that the guys I listen to play, and with Thile that’s too much of a stretch. But also, he’s just too busy, if a phrase needs 2 notes he’ll play 55. I like it less cluttered.
Fiddle: Michael Cleveland is awesome. First time I saw him up our way, I didn’t even realize he was blind. I also dig Stuart Duncan and Alison Krause.
Guitar: Stormin’ Norman. And of course, The Man. I never did get the chance to see Tony live, and it doesn’t sound like I ever will. Sniff.
Dobro: Jerry Douglas, Cindy Cashdollar although I’m not sure how BG she is considered.
Bass: I don’t know, they all sound good, and the same to my ears. The bass player in my band would have my head if he heard me say that.
Banjo: Uh, no. Thanks for asking.