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Ten Best Guitar Solos Of All Time

Aug 15, 2008
The guitar solo is something that is synonymous with rock music. There have been countless rock guitarists come and go over the years, all with a unique take on what makes a great solo. For as many guitarists as there are playing solos there are far more people listening and forming opinions on them. No one will ever agree on what their favourite guitar solos are, but here are ten of mine in no particular order.

1. For the Love of God by Steve Vai. The seventh song on his breakthrough 1991 album, Passion and Warfare, For the Love of God is often held up to be Steve Vai's best work. The song is essentially one long guitar solo and covers almost all aspects of Vai's playing. An inspiration when I first heard it, it was the piece that really showed me the depth of emotion that was possible to convey while playing guitar.

2. Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd. Often revered as having one of the best guitar solos of all time, the guitar playing in Comfortably Numb is outstanding. Pages and pages have been written about this solo, but for me it showed how effective blues phrasing could be in a rock setting. The big draw for me here was the tone as well, Dave Gilmour uses compression wonderfully well to give a warm and punchy tone that fits the song absolutely perfectly.

3. Beat It, solo by Eddie Van Halen. A great song that really comes to life with Van Halen's guitar solo mid way through. Eddie Van Halen was the defining guitarist of the 1980s and opened up so many techniques and ideas that would be copied endlessly. He has recorded countless amazing solos across his career but I feel that the one in Beat It is among his best. It's only short but is a pure explosion of his style showcasing breathtaking technique, style, tone and phrasing. If you ever want to discover why Van Halen is such a great guitarist then just listening to this solo should be enough.

4. Always With Me, Always With You by Joe Satriani (live version). I'm picking the extended live version from the Satriani Live! DVD rather than the studio version for this, mainly for Satriani's wonderful improvisation section at the end of the track. This song showcases just why Joe Satriani is such a good guitar player. I've heard several different live versions of this song, as well as having seen him live a few times in person and he plays just as well every single time. The song is a masterclass in how to solo melodically and tastefully. Satch never makes a mistake either, and everything he plays is done to absolute perfection. You won't find a better played guitar solo, and I doubt you'll find a better player either.

5. Nottingham Lace by Buckethead. I only recently started listening to Buckethead, so it's hard for me to pick out one solo in particular given that he excels in so many different styles. I picked Nottingham Lace out because it is a marvelous display of his technique as well as his melodic playing. Well worth a try and I'm looking forward to discovering the rest of his back catalogue.

6. Wonderful Slippery Thing by Guthrie Govan. Guthrie Govan is nowhere near as famous as he should be. An English guitar player, he is absolutely phenomenal, with a complete mastery of his instrument and a remarkable ability to play across a huge range of styles. I picked this song as it has been his strongest for many years, and the version on his recent album, Erotic Cakes, showcases his fluid style. A great player, hopefully soon he'll get the recognition he deserves.

7. Goodnight Kiss by John Petrucci. While John Petrucci is most widely known for his lightning fast alternate picking this solo shows that he can pick out some beautiful phrases when playing in a more restrained style. The solo plays smoothly over changes and changes the style of the song superbly to blend into the next track, Solitary Shell. Petrucci is a great guitarist who has managed to blend blues and metal into a unique style, and I feel that this solo is one of his best.

8. Bliss by Paul Gilbert. Again with a player like Paul Gilbert I found it hard to narrow it down to one solo. I knew I wanted something from him in here, but was unsure what exactly. In the end I just picked my favourite song, which also happens to have some fantastic guitar playing in it as well. On Bliss Gilbert shows his Hendrix influence as well as considerable restraint, playing fast just where it is needed for maximum impact. A great player with a fantastic attitude to music.

9. Soma by Billy Corgan. This is pretty much the guitar solo that really started me playing. My biggest early influence was the Smashing Pumpkins, and in particular the album Siamese Dream. The solo in Soma stands out as one of Corgan's best and is played to perfection as the song reaches its peak.

10. Bold as Love by Jimi Hendrix. A little cliched to include Hendrix perhaps, but his influence on guitar playing is unquestionable. In a similar situation to Paul Gilbert I was unsure of which to pick so in the end just picked my favourite song. Often overlooked for some of his more famous songs I actually feel that Bold as Love displays Hendrix' songwriting at its strongest, of course it helps that is also has the fantastic guitar work you'd expect from him too.
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