In this article, we will show you the 10 best guitar solos ever! No question. No debate. These are the best.
Has anyone ever read one of those “greatest of all time” lists and agreed with it? It seems all it does is cause arguments in the comments section.
Guitar playing isn’t a sport. There's no objective ranking – no best or worst.
Music is subjective – we all have our own tastes and style preferences. This is one of the reasons the guitar is such a great outlet for creativity and self-expression.
Let’s be a little more neutral and analyze 10 amazing guitar solos to find out what makes them so good.
This list will:
- Cover a variety of styles
- Highlight different players’ approaches
- Give you some inspiration for your own solos
And hopefully, we’ll introduce you to something you’ve never heard before.
What makes a great guitar solo?
Before we start the list, let’s look at some ingredients that go into making a tasty solo. This can also be used as a guide for improving your own solos.
Creativity and originality
Many great solos are instantly recognizable and showcase the guitarist's unique style.
- A guitar solo is an opportunity to innovate and explore new ideas.
- Try to avoid too many overused licks/phrases.
- Improvised solos can keep things exciting for the player and the audience.
A guitar solo should boost the song – not just our ego.
- Use appropriate tone and playing style for the genre.
- Borrow melodic lines from the vocals to make your solo feel more intentional.
- Know what chords you're playing over and use notes that compliment them.
- Sometimes less is more – unless you’re Yngwie.
Time to put all those hours of practice to good use! Pay close attention to these fundamentals and make your solos shine!
- Muting – Silence unwanted strings to keep everything sounding clean. This goes double for high-gain players.
- Bending – Intonation is crucial when bending strings. Out-of-tune bends are common among many beginner/intermediate guitarists.
- Picking – Work on synchronizing your picking hand with your fretting hand. It may sound simple, but even the most advanced players must work hard to keep this technique tight.
Gear and tone
Be familiar with all the different sounds available to you.
- Use effects to taste. It’s easy to go overboard with all those shiny boxes begging to be stomped, but be mindful of the overall sound.
- Dialing in a good guitar tone for solo parts works wonders – even a simple signal boost can make a huge impact.
- Know your instrument. Practice dive bombs with the whammy bar, create swells with your volume knob, or get country with some behind-the-nut bends! Explore every element your guitar has to offer.
Last but not least! Sometimes we can overlook the fact that we’re probably going to play in front of an audience at some point.
And during a solo, all eyes are on you.
- The audience will mirror what they see – show them you’re having a good time!
- Be yourself – create a style that you feel comfortable in.
- Get emotionally connected to the music – it will come through in your body language.
10 amazing guitar solos
Guitar solo #1 – Guthrie Govan – Regret #9
One of the most technically accomplished guitarists of all time, Guthrie Govan's ability may be machine-like, but he never sounds robotic.
This solo is from Steven Wilson's “Hand. Cannot. Erase” album.
- Strong sense of feel and emotion throughout.
- Showcasing a sophisticated knowledge of music theory.
- Aware of what is happening harmonically and knows which notes will complement each chord.
- Flawless execution of every phrase.
Musicians and composers value Guthrie's virtuosity – he features in many of Hans Zimmer's movie scores and live performances.
Guitar solo #2 – John Frusciante – Don’t Forget Me (Live)\
Frusciante is a master of playing in service to the music. He’s a self-confessed disciple of Hendrix and you can hear it in his style – seamlessly merging rhythm and lead into one.
- Frusciante commits to this performance entirely and gets swept up in the moment.
- Lots of wah pedal, delay, and unpolished pentatonic licks feed into the chaotic vibe of this solo.
- Most of the song is quite subdued and so unleashing so much energy at a pivotal moment creates a great contrast.
The band's passion and chemistry give this solo its magical quality. They’re all on the same page and the audience is along for the ride.
Guitar solo #3 - Jon Gomm - Passionflower
Let’s show some love for acoustics! This whole song is beautiful, but we're focusing on the intro solo.
- Gomm demonstrates that distortion and two-handed tapping aren’t just for electric players.
- This introduction really sets the tone for the rest of the song.
His playing style is definitely unique with lots of different elements.
- Open tuning
- Percussive techniques
- Tuning peg bends
- Long legato runs (not always easy on an acoustic)
Gomm uses everything at his disposal to pull the listener into his world.
Guitar solo #4 - Ariel Posen - Angeline Solo (Live)
If you want an example of a guitar solo that tells a story without words – this one is about as good as it gets.
- Ariel has mastered slide guitar, which allows him to create those expressive, vocal-like phrases.
- The solo is expertly crafted to take the audience on a journey.
- Pacing is perfect throughout – starting slow and then building in intensity.
- By leaving space in between licks he keeps the audience in a state of anticipation - it's exciting.
Check out this great slide guitar course if you want to learn from Ariel himself!
Guitar solo #5 - Jimi Hendrix - Bleeding Heart (Live)
This entire track is a blues masterclass and we’d encourage you to listen to the entire thing. Right now we’ll just focus on one section.
The first thing to notice is the guitar tone
- Always sitting right on the edge of feedback – Hendrix was a master at controlling and utilizing this.
- The amp breaks up when pushed, but is clean when played gently – perfect for a heavier blues sound.
Hendrix carefully adds elements of his style into the song, without losing the soul of the original.
- Huge psychedelic bends and whammy dives push the boundaries of a classic blues tune.
- Call and response – a traditional blues technique. He sings a line and then responds to it with the guitar. Does it get much better than this?
He had such style and confidence in his playing that even the slight imperfections add to the overall performance – it feels passionate and raw.
Guitar solo #6 - Graham Coxon - Coffee And TV
Not the most obvious choice for a great guitar solo but if we look closely, there’s an important lesson to be learned.
Breaking the rules
- Tone doesn’t match the song
- Bends are out of tune
- Effects seem messy and harsh
Coxon goes against most of the criteria we’ve set for a great solo, but it still works. Why?
- The noise, dissonance, and tension create a great contrast to the poppy style of the track.
- The solo finishes abruptly and that dynamic shift enhances the following chorus.
So remember – these rules are guidelines, not laws. What may sound bad in isolation can sound great in context, and vice versa.
Guitar solo #7 – Mark Lettieri – Flood (Intro Solo)
Many people think of guitar solos as a string of single notes – either running scales or showing off crazy licks.
Mark Lettieri of Snarky Puppy demonstrates a different approach.
- Connected chords can make a stunning, harmonically rich solo.
- Think of chords as groups of individual notes instead of a fixed box shape.
- Many jazz players follow this approach to soloing
Learn the CAGED system to better understand how to create solos like this.
- Learn to visualize which notes are available to you in any position at any given moment.
- Making the connection between chord shapes and scale degrees is at the heart of this style.
Guitar solo #8 - Frank Zappa - Inca Roads (Live)
Zappa’s philosophy on guitar solos was to never play the same thing twice. He prided himself on improvising new solos at every show.
- This entire solo revolves around just two chords.
- Zappa’s vast knowledge of music theory gives him a huge pallet of colors to paint with.
- Although it’s a very long solo the amount of variation keeps it engaging throughout.
Some benefits of improvising your solos
- The audience gets to hear something new every time they see you live.
- More fun and exciting for yourself and the band.
- It keeps your improvisational skills sharp.
Guitar solo #9 - Dimebag Darrell - Cemetery Gates
Dimebag Darrell was definitely more than just a metal shredder. It’s easy to overlook the delicate elements in his playing due to the generally wild and aggressive style.
- Not known for being a theory buff, Dimebag relied heavily on his ear.
- His intuition and musical awareness shine through in this solo.
This is a prime example of lead guitar work – listen to how the band follows and supports the guitar throughout the solo.
- Starts with a softer section. Here Dimebag showcases his ability to play expressively.
- The entire band pauses briefly to emphasize the long guitar bend at around 3:47.
- An almost seamless shift toward the up-tempo section with a faster guitar run that starts low on the neck and ends high.
Dimebag proceeds to unleash fury, complete with his trademark harmonic squeals.
Guitar solo #10 - Prince - While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Live)
If you need a lesson in showmanship, look no further than Prince. Sometimes we focus so much on the playing that we forget about putting on a good show. During a live performance, the audience is not just listening they’re watching too.
Visuals and performance
- Making an entrance. Prince waits until his solo to appear on stage surprising the audience.
- Engaging with the band. Uses eye contact to connect with the other players – creates a nice chemistry.
- Confident body language. Relaxed presence and taking up space on the stage.
- Style awareness. His clothing matches the stage lighting – a small detail but almost certainly intentional. Gotta look good!
Playing a cover song
Find a balance between these two things
- Honor the original. Prince references the vocal melody and some phrases from Eric Clapton's original solo.
- Make it your own. When covering a song, don’t make it identical (unless you’re a tribute act) – add something unique.
A solo should be a high point for the musicians and the audience. It’s a chance to show your skill and unique style.
- Above all, a solo is there to improve the song.
- Study any solos you enjoy and break them down as we have in this article.
- Take the elements you like and add them to your playing.
Remember to experiment and have fun with your guitar solos. The choices are limitless so it’s the perfect opportunity to get creative!
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