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.


30The Rolling Stones - 'Sway'

"There is something dramatic about Mick Taylor's guitar solo. The way he plays it with a magnificent presence of measured, confident, authoritative youth but with a militaristic manner, which lends an extraordinary gravity to the song. I see the band through the song as a gang of mathematicians huddled round a problem, all with solemn faces, each fearlessly throwing forth their own take on where the solution may lie. This guitar solo always resonated with me because it carried the passion so profoundly it inspired me to play the guitar."

29Van Halen - 'Eruption'

Often stuck in the Top Ten in these polls, we’ve shifted it down a peg or two because let's face it, it’s a bit crass, really. However, if it's unrelenting, shameless, show-off frantic fingerwork you’re after, this is the one. 100 seconds of axe worship and little else. Originally played by Eddie Van Halen on his own creation, the Frankenstat.

28The Strokes - 'Last Nite'

"This made learning the guitar fun again when I was 11. Everyone can sing it still today. It's not complicated for the sake of being complicated."

27George Harrison feat. Eric Clapton - 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'

Proving that a great guitar solo doesn’t always need to rely on the number of notes you can cram into a bar, this Eric Clapton contribution to a Beatles track that Harrison initially wasn’t happy with is a masterpiece of understated fretwork. It really does speak for itself, this one.

26Lynyrd Skynyrd - 'Free Bird'

The first rule of guitar solo lists is that ‘Free Bird’ must make an appearance. For us, it’s midway through the 50. You wait four or five minutes for the shredding to commence and then it’s one long multi guitar freestyle that goes on for five, ten or fifteen minutes depending on the version. Rednecks and mostly dead they may be, but Skynyrd knew their way round a solo.

25Led Zeppelin - 'Since I've Been Loving You'

"Jimmy Page really shows himself in this song. The subtleties at the start are replaced with ferocious runs towards the end. The dog's bollocks of solos."

24Thin Lizzy - 'The Boys Are Back In Town'

A classic riff doesn’t just stand alone. It needs a great song, vocal and a massive solo to support it. Well ‘TBABIT’ had two. The ‘twin guitar solo’ from Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson pushes the track over the top, making it an axe classic.

23The Strokes - 'Reptilia'

Nick Valensi's guitar solo here is a thing of spidery beauty, climbing over the formidable combo of Fab Moretti's drums and Nikolai Fraiture's bass with mammoth new wave power. Perhaps the most 'Strokesian' track they ever recorded.

22Guns N' Roses - 'November Rain'

"This was a tough one, but I'm going to have to pick 'November Rain' by Guns N' Roses, which features one of the first guitar solos I ever tried to learn. We have history together so it hits me a different way than most, still, until this day."

21Radiohead - 'Just'

"The Greenwood. Like being smashed in the face with a bucket of rabid razor blade wielding ejaculating crabs."

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