5 Best Guitar Solos of All Time. Do You Agree?

Five of the greatest and most impressive guitar solos, from Jimmie Hendrix to Van Halen.

Guitar solos are the place where master guitarists get to show off their skills. For a few music bars, the audience’s focus shifts away from the lead singer, and the guitarist gets the full attention. The best solos bring something original to the table and create an emotion that listeners won’t easily forget. 

Get your lighters ready, and let’s look at a few of the best guitar solos of all time. 

1. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, Guitarist: Brian May

Bohemian Rhapsody is Queen’s best-known song. It was a number-one hit when it came out in 1975. It hit the number-one spot again in 1992 after Freddie Mercury’s death. This piece remains popular over 40 years after its first recording. And for a good reason.

Freddie Mercury wrote this song from start to finish using a complex musical structure that doesn’t follow the rules. In an interview, Brian May discusses how Freddie wanted a guitar solo in the song and gave Brian May a free hand to work on it. May wanted the guitar to sing its own verse and wrote the classic guitar solo.

Brian May’s guitar solo in this song is short and sweet. The guitar interlude is crucial in tying the musical piece together. The first half of the song starts as a lyrical ballad. Then the guitar interlude signals a new episode in this rhapsody. It takes the piece from ballad-like rock to an emotional opera worthy of the stage. The song heads into rock and roll and ends on a smooth reflective note. 

Brian’s vibrato techniques and lyrical lines touch an emotional chord tying Freddie Mercury’s complex piece together. 

2. “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd, Guitarist: David Gilmour

Many consider the guitar solo in Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb the best guitar solo of all time. This piece contains two solos by David Gilmour, but the second one steals the show.

In a 1993 interview with Guitar World, David discussed how he wrote the guitar voice for Comfortably Numb. He “banged out five or six solos” in the studio and then listened to the playback. Then he pieced together the best parts for a well-structured solo with the interest of creative improvisation.

Guitar solos have become favorites because of the guitarist’s intricate fingerwork and original techniques. However, in Comfortably Numb, the behind-the-scenes studio work is responsible for half of this solo’s charm. The delay and doubling of the guitar’s voice create a full edgy sound–almost as if two guitars are playing at once.

The smooth tone, rapid rhythms, and expressiveness of the guitar’s sound make this solo unforgettable.

3. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses, Guitarist: Slash

Slash’s guitar solo in Sweet Child O’ Mine is one of the most memorable of 1980s rock. This song was Guns N’ Roses first hit song to hit Billboard’s Top 40s. 

But Slash was responsible for much more than just the guitar solo. His sweet riffs on the guitar were the inspiration for the creation of the piece. While Slash entertained the rest of the band during a rehearsal, he struck gold. Axl Rose listened in, liked what he was hearing, and began jotting down lyrics to match Slash’s notes.

The Sweet Child O’ Mine guitar solo begins with a relaxed, laidback tone before it steadily increases in energy. The bends and vibrato on the strings require a talented left hand. 

Slash makes use of the pentatonic scale in this piece. He builds energy with upstrokes and downstrokes as he plays. Although he tends to be more understated than other guitarists in his performance style, his raw improvs connect the audience to the piece on a rich emotional level. 

4. All Along the Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix, Guitarist: Jimi Hendrix


Jimi Hendrix admired Bob Dylan’s work and enjoyed covering many of his songs. In All Along the Watchtower, Hendrix reinterprets Dylan’s classic song, turning it into a creative masterpiece. Even Dylan admitted that Hendrix improved upon this piece.

Hendrix’s version came out in 1968 and included not one but four different guitar solos in All Along the Watchtower. In one of the solos, he uses a cigarette lighter to slide up the guitar neck. 

Hendrix was full of musical ideas and enjoyed bringing psychedelic sounds and original techniques to the guitar. His distinct musical voice makes this song a classic rock hit. 

5. “Eruption,” Van Halen, Guitarist: Eddie Van Halen

When Eruption first appeared on Van Halen’s debut album, it caused a stir. However, it was only by chance that this piece made it onto the album. As Eddie was practicing for an upcoming gig, his producer overheard him playing and encouraged him to record it.

Eddie Van Halen was using a tapping technique. But, instead of using it on one or two notes like most guitarists, he was playing a solo almost entirely with hammer-ons, pull-offs, and tapping. This technique requires both hands to tap out the notes going up the guitar neck while muting the bass notes.

The rhythm Van Halen uses is also tricky. Sometimes he taps on the first and fourth sextuplet notes, and sometimes he emphasizes the third and sixth notes. This makes it one of the most challenging solos for other guitarists to recreate. Van Halen’s imaginative style makes him one of the top 10 guitar soloists in rock history. 

Learn from the greatest guitarists, and put theory into practice.

Rock stars such as Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Brian May, and others brought guitar solos to life with their innovative techniques and creative interpretations. 

You, too, can master skills on the guitar by listening to the classics, watching expert guitarists’ fingerwork, and learning guitar theory. To boost your skills,  Simply Guitar can help you lay the framework for music theory and walk you through chords and strum patterns step-by-step. 

Who knows? One day your guitar solo may hit the charts.