Depends what you mean by ‘best’.
If you’re talking about technical brilliance nobody comes close to Tommy Emmanuel. He is the best Aussie guitarist by more than a country mile. And I noticed that someone replied to Jacqui’s tweet stating the same thing.
However, Joji’s improvement in his skills since The Positions was released has been mindblowing, and I wouldn’t argue that he’s become the best Aussie lead guitarist. He’s no Angus Young, but your comparison to The Edge is spot on. When I first started seeing GOY live he played almost note perfect from the studio recordings, but soon started loosening up on stage and doing his own thing. In a recent interview I heard Max say they have no idea what he’s going to do every time they go on stage.
You’ll notice Dave often just stops playing rhythm during songs, usually to interact with the audience, but the overall sound never really suffers, as it would with most other bands. Joji’s guitar ‘fills’ the gap superbly, with a mixture of sustained notes, delicate licks and chords, with just the right amount of use from his admittedly massive pedal board. The fact that he and Dave have been best friends since they were 10 is obvious in these situations. The chemistry between the 2 is palpable.
You could replace the drummer, bassist, and keyboardist and GOY’s sound wouldn’t suffer dramatically. But take away Joji and you don’t have GOY. I know this is a huge call, but I think he is as important as Dave to the band- irreplaceable.
So, we could argue forever about who the best Aussie guitarist is, because there are a lot of good ones out there, but Joji has developed his own style and sound and it’s my hope that future generations will be able to hear a song and instantly recognise Joji Malani’s guitar work, just as they do with The Edge.
Oh, and if you overseas fans don’t know who Tommy Emmanuel is, take a look at this: