Jimmy Page. Jack White. Jimi Hendrix: some of the music world's greatest ever axe-shredders (and that's only the Js). Fundamental to a band's sound, the guitarist can make or break a record and - if they're really something special - they can deliver a solo that elevates it to heights previously unimagined. Here, we celebrate those in the latter camp, who only needed six strings to change the world.


50Babe Ruth – ‘The Mexican'

"This song is literally one very long solo. Alan Shacklock is spraying duelling solos all over the this sexy jam without looking over his shoulder once! That's a pretty impressive feet considering the track is nearly 6 minutes long. I mean, the solos aren't going to melt any faces, but you know, they don't always have to."

49Kansas – 'Carry On My Wayward Son'

The track is a golden rock monolith, full of prog-esque bombast and fittingly Kerry Livgren’s solo doesn’t pull any punches. Instead he brilliantly executes all of the classic guitar techniques in one: the slide, the bend and the vibrato.

48Suede 'Animal Nitrate'

Unlike their Britpop contemporaries, Suede never shied away from guitar solo bombast. Bernard Butler complemented Johnny Marr as he mirrored the urban isolation of the track on his Les Paul, picking away at the sad minor chord threads. Beautiful stuff.

47Rage Against The Machine - 'Bulls On Parade'

Rage Against The Machine’s second album might have had nothing on their jaw-dropping debut but it had a few moments of genius, and Tom Morello’s squeaky, squawky fretboard abuse a few minutes into ‘Evil Empire’’s second track was probably the entire LP’s high water mark. Try air guitaring to that bizarre squiggle; it would give the makers of Guitar Hero a heart attack.

46The White Stripes - 'Ball And Biscuit'

"Jack is an absolute genius. He never plays the same thing twice throughout this song, and the high solo parts are absolutely brutal. Like he's killing the blues. Also, the moment where after five minutes, you hear him say 'yeh well err, d'ya get the point now?' then he plays for another three minutes is basically the coolest thing to ever happen."

45Prince - 'I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man'

"This is a perfect example of a guitar solo that you can sing along with. I think any good guitar solo should do that. Also this song is incredible. People think of Prince as this prolific genius wearing pink lace and thongs, etc.. which is true (and awesome) but he is also an incredible guitarist. I think he could put most of Rolling Stone's top 100 guitar players to shame in his sleep."

44Manic Street Preachers - 'La Tristesse Durera'

The Manics' bombastic rock 'n' Van Gogh tribute found producer Dave Eringa amping up everything and ensuring James Dean Bradfield’s melodic soloing gets a welcome spotlight. Influenced by Slash he lets rip on his trademark white Les Paul. The results are unforgettable.

43Electric Prunes – 'Holy Are You'

"That one sounds like you should be in front of a huge architectural masterpiece, like a church or a cathedral, and you should be on tons of acid, playing along."

42Dinosaur Jr – 'Get Me'

J Mascis is a relatively underappreciated guitar hero, but his technical ability cannot be doubted. Taken from the band's fifth album ‘Where You Been’, this solo is a blistering amalgam of 70s rock influences (especially Neil Young) and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. A peak in a career of sonic highs.

41Smashing Pumpkins - 'Soma'

"My personal favourite guitar solo would be by Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins from the song 'Soma'. It's a perfect combination of melody, noise and technique by one of the most underrated lead players in modern rock music. There are so many haunting bends in this solo that show off what a unique and creative guitarist Billy Corgan is."

Share This

Comments
Don't Miss
Latest Tickets
NME On Social
NME Store