Top 10 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time

The Top Ten
1 Stairway to Heaven - Jimmy Page

When one hears the studio version of this solo, the moment that bend comes in with a bang creates anticipation for the rest of the solo. This lasts right up until Plant ends it with unbelievable élan. One might think, "Oh man, if only I could hear this for the first time again."

Well, Jimmy is too good to produce just one great solo. This invention of his is too extraordinary to be contained in just one minute. To address that, Jimmy has improvised and improved the solo countless times, especially in the live versions of this song, like the Madison Square Garden performance in 1973. So yes, you get to listen to it for the first time over and over again.

2 Comfortably Numb - David Gilmour

It's a long shot saying someone in the future might top this solo. Unlike most solos, this one has a story to it. The first solo is bright and happy, which contrasts with the second one. The song's transitions from dark and gritty to bright and happy truly stand out. The dark melody goes perfectly with the bright undertone.

It seems almost impossible to create a tone greater than Gilmour's, let alone do an entire solo. I've always been a fan of Gilmour's tone in songs such as "Hey You," "Time," and "Another Brick in the Wall - Part 2," among others.

The careful selection of notes and the right timing for them is ineffable. With Waters' lyrics and songwriting, along with Gilmour's songwriting and lead, this song is a true gem, ahead of its time. And the solo is an out-of-place experience.

Considering the fact that this was made almost 50 years ago and it is still being talked about, it's a remarkable feat that only a few bands achieve.

Pink Floyd's music breaks the generational barrier and will echo throughout history and beyond.

3 Eruption - Eddie Van Halen

This solo may not be the best ever. There are many very underrated guitarists out there. Sure, Eddie is pretty overrated in the guitar world, but I still believe he is one of the best guitar players to ever pick up a guitar. Stairway to Heaven is a beautifully crafted song, but it is highly overrated. It is fairly simple, and if you sit in any guitar shop, you will hear someone playing it - not Eruption, which takes way more skill.

I really feel this solo. It's one of my favorites after Mr. Crowley. People who say there's no feeling in it just don't understand. It's your problem. But it's like saying, "I can't feel Stairway to Heaven." It's your problem, not the solo's problem. Does anyone agree with me on this? One of my favorite solos of all time is not even on this list, and yet I feel it so much. It's the solo in American Life by Primus.

4 Freebird - Allen Collins/Gary Rossington

I remember those times. Fond memories of the way people used to interact with one another, not reacting against anyone. Shows were spectacular. Music was at its very best in rhythm and form. People came to hear the words of harmless poets whose only aspirations were to simply play ear-pleasing music.

I miss that time, and miss the beautiful music each day as well. I miss the musicians who came to play for us, only hoping that we would all like their presentation of their wonderful tunes.

Let us all remember that love, not hate, allowed us to enjoy those good times in our 20s that gave us a much better quality of life for having heard.

5 Sweet Child O' Mine - Slash

I'll put it this way: The solo in this tune is what inspired, or rather "pushed," me to become a musician and guitarist. I remember hearing it regularly on the radio back in the late eighties when I was only 6. It haunted me. It made me realize the beauty and purpose of music. Kudos to Guns N' Roses and Slash!

When I heard this solo, I was just blown away. Now I have heard many more solos and many great guitarists, but this one remains my favorite for years.

Slash is my favorite, along with Jimmy Page, Dimebag Darrell, and Dave Mustaine.

6 Hotel California - Joe Walsh/Don Felder

The fact that Hotel California, one of the greatest and most creative solos of all time, is behind Sweet Child 'O Mine, Afterlife, and Master of Puppets is really disappointing.

If people who voted for this list actually knew anything about creative and good music, this solo would be number 2 or 3.

Simply takes me to another place when I hear this song. The guitar solo is the greatest of all time. I've seen them live a couple of times and still get chills when I hear it. Simply the best.

"Greatest" of course depends on your definition - most difficult? fastest? most "rock and roll energy"? What the Eagles' solos also have is "innovation," "originality," "good taste," and "played with pure confidence and clarity." It's a bit like, with classical music, when someone says a particular Beethoven composition is "perfect."

7 November Rain - Slash

One of the last great slow-burning solos, in my opinion, is the first guitar solo, and to a lesser but still large extent, the second solo in the Guns N' Roses masterpiece, November Rain. It is absolutely beautiful. Passion and energy seem to flow out of the strings with each extended, stabbing note. The wailing nature of those notes really helps to convey the sad emotions presented in the lyrics and Axl Rose's beautiful vocal performance.

When Slash comes in with the classic solo to the song, you can't help but rewind and listen to the solo again and again. It's as amazing as Slash, and his solo to this amazing soundtrack is cool.

8 Bohemian Rhapsody - Brian May

What a way to top off our list than with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. The guitar solo for this song is just out of this world. The way Brian plays it is just spine-tingling. He nails it with so much emotion that you can feel the motion of the song and how awesomely it was put together.

Brian is well-known for having awesome guitar solos - Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Hammer to Fall, These Are the Days of Our Lives, etc. Queen rules, and so does Brian.

Brian May has always proven to be an amazing guitarist with songs like Killer Queen and Somebody to Love. But he showed us his ultimate skills in Bohemian Rhapsody.

No doubt, his guitar solo for this song is phenomenal and stands the ultimate test of time.

9 Mr. Crowley - Randy Rhoads

Hands down, the greatest solo ever! It has melody, it has speed, it has talent, and it has classical tunes! Definitely guitar playing at its peak.

People don't realize the power of this. Listen to a slower version of the solo, and you will realize how every note is astonishing.

Finally, the first actually unique solo on this list. Mostly, this is just a reworking of the classic rock solos list, with some oversight by putting Stairway first. This is the greatest metal solo ever.

Anyone who plays guitar will understand very quickly that this is one of the greatest ever. Musically, it has far more detail to the notes than just noise. One of the best ever.

10 Voodoo Child (Slight Return) - Jimi Hendrix

It sounds like there are ten guitars in those solos. But no! It's just one guitar in rock nirvana.

The entire song is a guitar solo, and it's awesome. I just can't describe it with words. You have to listen to it. Do it. You will be convinced.

Amazing phrasing, but I think the solos in Machine Gun are more nuanced and, of course, without overdubs. Either way, Jimi's work should rate number 1. No one has ever combined soul, artistry, and technical wizardry to the same level since.

Come on! How is this not at least in the top 3? Anyone who plays guitar knows that this song is awesome and hard to recreate. Hendrix was one of the most original guitarists of all time. Seriously?

The Contenders
11 One - Kirk Hammett

I may like other Metallica songs more overall, but One is the greatest piece on guitar. The guitar is not simply there to supplement the sound and hit a few catchy riffs. The guitar sets the mood so much in this song. It begins with some eerie, gloomy riffs that are perfectly complementary to the lyrics about a traumatized soldier.

After two verses, it goes into a great solo that most people would consider enough for a song. But instead, the song is only halfway over, and it kicks into a much harder sound. The heavy riffs again control the tone of the sound, where now the lyrics are about the soldier losing his mind. It then finishes with two minutes of pure thrash and the greatest guitar solo in history.

12 Fade to Black - Kirk Hammett

This is Kirk Hammett's best solo. Unlike all of his other shred solos like Master of Puppets (the first, more tasteful solo is James's) and One, which get quite repetitive, it seems like Kirk actually put a lot of time and effort into this one. It still manages to add shredding elements while incorporating aspects of solos like Comfortably Numb. It's easily his magnum opus and deserves to be higher on this list.

This is it. The most mind-blowingly epic solo you will ever hear. Sure, hard rock is amazing and all, but heavy metal cranks the badassery up to 11 and beyond. This song is basically the Comfortably Numb of metal, except it actually has decent guitar outside of the solo, much better vocals, and the solo is so much more epic and energetic. It feels and sounds like it is building up, not just fading away.

13 High Hopes - David Gilmour

Fantastic and well-crafted song. When the solo comes with that burst of emotions, it truly makes me shed tears! I'm not afraid to admit that. It's a wonderfully crafted piece of music. Kind of overlooked, though. It might not deserve to be in the top 5 (coming from a hardcore Floyd fan here, haha), but it deserves a spot that's still worth it, like where it is now - 15!

I strongly believe that Dave Gilmour is the greatest and best-rounded guitarist in all of rock. And this song is his magnum opus. Four minutes of pure guitar nostalgia, perfect from top to bottom.

No solo is better crafted, structured, or executed than High Hopes. Yet, people overlook it.

14 All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix

Just what I wanted. Jimi's best. I have no idea how anyone keeps this out of the top 5, let alone 10.

In the way Deep Purple were the pioneers of the hard rock and metal genre, Hendrix was on a path that only he saw, but everyone wants to be on it. It's beyond malice to have this steamroller behind the planners and thinkers. He's a dreamer.

Regarding creativity and originality, Joe Satriani said this about Hendrix: "I can very easily figure out what he did. But I have no idea how he thought of it."

A guitar solo from another dimension, performed by an immortal guitar virtuoso born on another planet.

15 Highway Star - Ritchie Blackmore

Technical guitar master Ritchie Blackmore is most well-known for his incredibly recognizable riff in Smoke on the Water, but his solos in Highway Star, particularly the second one, are perhaps just as strong achievements. The second solo seems a bit like the musical version of being shot out of a cannon at ultra-relativistic speeds. The arrangement has a classical touch to it, resulting in what probably would happen if Mozart got extremely drunk and then decided to pick up an electric guitar and wail away.

16 Afterlife - Synyster Gates

Let's not mess about. This solo is one of the most impressive solos ever written, and Syn is one of the best guitarists to reach fame this side of the year 2000.

Agreed, melodically it's no Comfortably Numb or Stairway to Heaven, but sometimes it's not just about that. We all know he can write incredible melodic solos (just listen to Dear God or Betrayed), but this solo incorporates so many different guitar-playing techniques and sounds at impossible speeds while retaining its melodic value that it deserves to be in the top 10. It's fighting the modern guitarist's corner, and it deserves to win.

17 Tornado of Souls - Marty Friedman

Best solo ever, period. Ticks all the boxes:

1. Feeling: No one can match Marty on his vibrato, bending, and melody.
2. Shredding: Insane runs and amazing arpeggios.
3. Character: Builds up nicely, is fully memorable, and you can sing along.
4. Unmatchable: Amazing guitarists have tried to replicate it live ever since in Megadeth's lineup. More or less, they all failed to catch the vibe and fluidity.
5. Epitome: Not one of the huge lead guitarists has ever tried to change it, even slightly.
6. Approved: By the Metal God and founder of thrash himself. Reportedly, he shook Marty's hand after the recording, speechless. 'Enough said.

18 Whipping Post (Live) - Duane Allman/Dickey Betts

An emotional roller coaster of a series of solos live from the Fillmore West. The solos fit very well with the emotions and desperation of the song.

19 Machine Gun (Live) - Jimi Hendrix

It's hard to describe why this beats out all other solos. To be ranked outside of #1 is an absolute travesty. With that said, you could describe any of Jimi's solos that way, which in and of itself diminishes the song as a whole.

I know people have differing opinions, and more power to them. I cannot sit by and say that anyone in the history of guitar holds a candle to Mr. Hendrix. It just would not be right.

To write something that absolutely transcends time and space is not something to be taken lightly. There are many artists throughout history who have been given this privilege. However, to do it on so many instances only shows that the hand of the Almighty was resting upon Jimi. Say what you like. Listen to the music. Compare it to anything you like. When God Himself shows up in music, you can tell. Jimi wasn't the only one to receive this honor, but for whatever reason - and believe me, it wasn't because Jimi was a saint - God Himself decided to particularly bless Jimi's music. That can only be attributed to God's choice. Thanks be to God!

Jimi's lyrics, chord choices, technique, and imagination all blend into music that touches your soul in the deepest fashion. Everyone can relate to it at the level of the soul. If you can't, well, ask the Almighty for help to see what music really is. There are hundreds of pieces of music through which God expresses Himself. Ask Him to help you find one that will enrich your understanding of Him. Oh yes, did I say the solo from Machine Gun is the best? It is.

20 Child in Time - Ritchie Blackmore

One of the most epic and emotional solos in music.

People just don't want to know about this incredible song and solo, it seems.

I love the blues influence that turns into a lightning-speed solo.

21 Heartbreaker - Jimmy Page

The shredding in this solo easily compares to Eruption. Sadly, it doesn't last that long. Anyway, this should be at number 15.

This should be way higher up. This is one of the best solos of all time. He improvised it as well.

He plays it so fast that you can barely hear it!

22 Hangar 18 - Dave Mustaine/Marty Friedman

Number 13? You've got to be kidding. This song has 12 solos, and they're all incredibly creative and fast. This list is mostly voted on popularity, although I still love Led Zeppelin.

The rarest musical track that people still use today. Really fast, feeling electricity and adrenaline through your mind!

Wait, which solo are we talking about? Never mind, the whole song is practically a guitar solo.

23 White Room - Eric Clapton

That wah-wah sounds so awesome. Also, the rhythm guitar in this song could be my favorite of any song, behind When the Levee Breaks.

Most underrated guitar solo of all time! Clapton's best and arguably the best of all time!

24 Layla - Duane Allman/Eric Clapton

Love Duane Allman, but you should give Clapton a lot of credit. The solo should be at least in the top 10.

Are you kidding? Layla is not in the top 20? And Eric Clapton had a part in the solo too.

Why is Clapton's magnum opus not in the top ten?

25 Time - David Gilmour

Realistically, Comfortably Numb should be Number 1 or 2, Time should be 8, 9, or 10, and High Hopes should be around 13 or 14. In my opinion, David Gilmour is the greatest guitarist ever. He doesn't fill his solos with 100 bpm arpeggios and sweep picking. Instead, he packs in perfect notes and guitar techniques like vibrato, along with his awesome, punchy tone, to create the best guitar solos ever.

This guitar solo both gives me chills and impresses me at the same time. It really is one of the absolute best I've ever heard. Gilmour chooses his notes wisely and makes every one count, which can often be a difficult thing to do in a guitar solo.

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