Best Sounding Musicians

I'd like to compile my list of best sounding musicians under any circuimstances regardless of recording quality and regardless of instrument played or style -- will list. Many of us know that ability of musician to get best sound of instrument is also boutique ability and definitely part of musicians talent. For that ability I nominate following:

1. Jascha Heifetz -- violin
2. Bill Frisell -- electric guitar
3. Stan Getz -- tenor sax
4. Pat Metheny -- various guitars
5. Adrean Belew -- electric guitar
6. Wolfgang Hafner -- drums
7. Nils Peter Molvaer -- trumpet
8. Julie London -- voice
9. Richard Bona -- electric bass
10. Charlie Haden -- string bass
11. Joey DeFrancesco -- B3
12. Eric Clapton -- electric guitar
13. SRV -- electric guitar
14. Van Cliburn -- piano
16. David Gilmour -- electric guitar
17. Carla Bley -- piano
18. Jason Veaux -- acoustic guitar
I would most certainly agree with David Gilmour on guitar, his tone is impeccable. And for someone with chops to die for, I'd add Danny Gatton on guitar - maybe the best guitarist ever...

Yes to Belew, Metheny, Getz and Gilmour. Missing Frank Zappa, Steve Howe, Bill Bruford, Carl Palmer, Stanley Clarke, Tony Levin, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea and Tony Banks, among others.
Jascha Heifetz -- violin
Charlie Haden -- string bass

I'll definitely agree with these two.

The others are all good picks but more debatable for me.

I'd toss Andrew Latimer in as an alternative to David Gilmour.
I am no expert, but Heifetz alone is beyond reproach from where I am sitting.
Not quite sure what you mean by "boutique sound"; and, "best", as always, will be argued to be subjective. Having said that, I think that what you may be saying is that there are musicians whose musical "stuff" is so strong that the message always transcends and rises above poor recording quality. One can't polish a (musical) turd with boutique (?) sound enhancement; but, likewise, it's almost impossible to destroy the music in truly great playing with bad recording quality or playback.

As far as impeccable tone goes I agree with some of your choices, especially Heifetz and Clapton; and Getz, Frisell and Metheny for especially unique tones. Not so much with Haden or DeFrancesco. Haden was an amazing musician and one of my very favorite bass players, but I always found his "tone" somewhat diffuse and indistinct compared to other favorite bass players; no arguing with the music though. DeFrancesco makes me nervous with an over abundance of exuberance in his playing which, for me, detracts from his impressive tone.

Some musicians that, for me, define(d) the pinnacle of tone and are also musical masters:

Heifetz (violin)
Julius Baker (flute)
Robert Marcellus (clarinet)
Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone)
Horowitz/Bill Evans (piano)
George Mraz (acoustic bass)
Charlie Mariano (alto saxophone)
Jack DeJohnette (drums)
Manuel Barrueco (Classical guitar)
Also I will note that this list has a strong caucasian bias, but hey, what list is not biased in some way?
How about Chet Atkins? I could listen to him play the phone book on a transistor radio.
Mapman, Richard Bona is Nigerian.
Trumpet --- Clark Terry
Tenor sax --- Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, Ike Quebec
baritone sax --- Leo Parker
piano --- Ahmad Jamal

violin --- Gil Shaham, Itzak Perlman
piano --- Vladimir Ashkenazy

electric Guitar --- Steve Morse, Steve Vai, Al DiMeola

drums --- Jeff Hamilton
I may also ad Ambrose Akimusire to add some colors:-) as he indeed very masterful and unique trumpeteer.
Adding another instrument and color too ...
Trombone - Wycliffe Gordon
Obviously plausible arguments could be made for countless artists, but I'll nominate a few of my favorites in the vocal category:

Classical female vocalist: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
Pop/jazz/folk female vocalist: Judith Durham.

Classical male vocalist: Jussi Björling, Luciano Pavarotti.
Male vocalist (various genres): Paul Robeson.

-- Al
Tosin Abasi

Colin Marston

Denis D'Amour (R.I.P.)

Weasel Walter

Josh Travis

Christopher Arp

Aphex Twin or Autechre (?!)
My very favorite "best sounding musician" is Louis Armstrong. The first musician I can recall that made me feel that he was singing through his instrument.
Well thought out list! Heifetz and Getz are stellar choices, the other 16 are very debatable. I would add Julian "Cannonball" Adderley-Alto Sax.
Joshua Bell
Bill Evans

Andres Segovia

Ben Webster

Sarah Vaughan

Joe Pass
I don't know too much about jazz , but the few Joshua Redmond albums I have heard have been outstanding!!
Czarivey and all contributors, in the interest of keeping the thread relevant: please clarify what, exactly, we are talking about here? Many great musicians mentioned so far; but, are we talking about favorite musicians, great musicians, or, as your OP suggests, musicians with great TONE (not necessarily the greatest or favorite)?
I'm with you, Frogman--some of these answers have me scratching my head. Great players, but not necessarily great tone.
I put down Joshua Bell because I've heard him play in any tone there is from astringent to honey dripping depending on the music. On the same program.
We should indeed speak of a TONE. It's a great quality of musician that even makes recording engineer's job easier to create great quality recording.
FYI, when I referred in my post to "my favorites in the vocal category," I should have stated more explicitly that I was referring to favorites in the vocal category who IMO were gifted with vocal instruments having exceptional tone.

-- Al
I can listen to Charlie Haden all day long...his "Under the Missouri Sky" is one of my go-to favs when I just want to relax and not think about anything.
James Ehnes gets my vote. The most astonishing phrase from a violin I ever heard was the soloist entrance in the Dvorak Violin Concerto by Ehnes. It was beautiful beyond (by a considerable margin) anything I have ever heard. I was seated about 15 ft from him. I just melted in my seat, and turned to my wife and she was obviously having the same reaction. I would give a lot to relive that moment.

I have a number of his recordings, and I treasure every single one of them.

peter erskine
poogie bell
steve gadd
jeff pocaro
sonny emory