For many rock fans, the guitar solo is the best part of the song. Here is a list of eleven time honored classic solos. It’s unfortunate that many recent pop bands have chosen to forgo the guitar solo altogether, but hardcore guitar players will never let go of the magic. A finely crafted guitar solo is a song within a song. It can take any piece of music to a new level of excitement. Some of these have extended improvisations so you may choose to learn them note for note or simply study them for their approach. Either way, you will be a better guitar player for having studied these gems.
1. Comfortably Numb: Pink Floyd: David Gilmour: There are two solos in this song. The both contain tasteful string bending and descending runs. It is interesting how Gilmour mixes both pentatonic and diatonic licks.
2. Cliffs of Dover: A Via Musicom: Eric Johnson:This one is certainly challenging in spots but well worth the effort. It starts with a rip-roaring E minor flurry that gradually descends and then climbs back up the neck with some awesome palm muted triplets into a killer G-Major lick before settling into the main theme.
3. Eruption: Eddie Van Halen: Van Halen: This instrumental is all out speed and a killer tapping section. It blew everyone away when it was release in the late 70’s.
4. YYZ: Alex Lifeson: Rush: Moving Pictures: There is a really tricky riff in this one and a mysteriously cool solo in E harmonic minor – classic Alex Lifeson.
5. Crazy Train: Randy Rhodes: Ozzy Osbourne: The Ozzman Cometh: Great tapping in this solo, then some killer licks before it finishes off with a blistering ascending run. There are some challenging fills in the song too, and the song itself is chock full of excellent riffs.
6. Johnny B Goode: Chuck Berry:Every self-respecting guitar player should learn this one. Chuck Berry has influenced a generation of players. This song best represents the spirit Chuck brought to the guitar.
7. Stairway To Heaven: Jimmy Page: Led Zeppelin IV:This is a great song with a great solo to boot. It get’s overplayed for a reason. It’s great. The solo is so well put together and phrased. It does what every good solo should do. It tells a story not just with words but also with its arching harmonic structure.
8. More Than A Feeling: Tom Scholz: Boston: This song has a short solo theme that acts as a pre-chorus and then a longer solo in the middle. Both are strong solos and perfectly placed to add excitement to the song. Tom Scholz has a great ability to be melodic, efficient, and at the same time to completely rock.
9. The Star Spangled Banner: Jimi Hendrix:Unless you are extremely ambitious, don’t try to play this one complete with all of Jimi’s acrobatic noises. Instead, learn the basic melody line to the song and then use it as a showcase for your own interpretation and effects. It’s really fun to do and a great way to experiment with some crazy ideas of your own.
10. Sultans of Swing: Mark Knopfler: Dire Straits: The solos in this song are the epitome of great phrasing and taste. Once you have learned it however, it’s easier to get it back. It’s also fun to have an extended solo where you don’t have to have the gain cranked all the way up.
11. Satch Boogie: Joe Satriani: Surfing With An Alien:A tour de force of classic Joe Satriani licks. It will test your speed and really build some chops if you have the patience to attack it.
Well, there you have it, a dozen solos for you to listen to and study. Hopefully these will provide you with some ideas you can use in making your own solos a little more interesting. If nothing else, trying to replicate these masterpieces will give you better appreciation for why these guitarists are among the best of all time.