The lead guitarist of Hawthorne Heights, Micah Carli, has made a list of the most eye-opening guitar solos of all time. Some of these riffs and solos might not go down in history on every list of the greatest guitar solos ever, but all of these solos were game-changers for some reason or another. To listen to Micah's work and/or to buy their new CD "Skeletons", please click on the link to the right that says "Skeletons".
Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin
[Solo starts at 2:03 into the video to the left]
This one still gets me every time....I love how the song comes to a screeching halt and they essentially use a crowbar to force in this section a COMPLETELY different feeling.
A stand alone guitar solo that begins in a minimalist, sputtering way and reaches a chaotic (and might I add wonderfully sloppy) crescendo before gracefully segueing back into the song.
Everything about this is perfect; the guitar tone, the messy performance, the feeling... it's one of my favorite solos of all time.
Voodoo Child (Slight Return) - Jimi Hendrix
[Live version of this song embedded]
This song isn't confined to just a single solo in the bridge. More accurately it's a five minute solo interrupted occasionally by vocals.
What amazes me about this song / guitar solo is the attitude of the performance. I've never heard anything so damn tough before. The song is so simple and yet exudes such a badass demeanor.
The guitar tone periodically fluctuates between a dirty clean and this fuzzed out, bitey sound that makes it almost seem like somewhere in his guitar rig, something is actually on fire.
Sleepwalk - Santo & Johnny
I'm sure everyone has heard this song before, but you might not know it by name or, even less likely, who it's by.
However, this song has always captivated me. The soothing yet eerie feeling of this guitar solo always puts me in a trance like a charmed snake. It's almost haunting. I'm enamored with everything about it; I love the timbre of the guitar, the way it breaks up on the louder notes, the legato feel as he drags the notes a little behind the beat.
It's a great example of using negative space as well. You could easily "Solo" this part up some more and play a bunch of extra notes unnecessarily fast but the use of notes so sparingly can sometimes, as it does here, speak volumes.
Bulls on Parade - Rage Against the Machine
[Solo starts at about 2:30]
I distinctly remember my reaction to this song / solo when if first came out. I was already a fan of Rage so it wasn't a total shock to the system, but the fact of someone was using a guitar to get these sounds just blew my mind.
I love the flagrant disregard for standards and protocol. Tom Morello showed me and many others that there are still many radically different ways to play a very old instrument.
November Rain - Guns N' Roses
[Solo starts at 03:25]
Melody and simplicity are the two substantial traits I attribute to Slash's soloing technique.
He has proven the power of those two concepts as a team time and time again, but November Rain showcases his craft as polished as ever.
The grandeur and majesty of his performance in this song is striking and it has left an impression on me and anyone who has heard this song that will last forever.
The End - The Beatles
[Solo starts at 00:53]
There are really too many equally great solos by the Beatles to wade through, but I think The End is an all-encompassing example of what that means -- seeing as it is, itself, the culmination of several solos.
I know it was a common recording technique in the past to have someone lay down several passes for a solo and piece together the best parts later, but this example takes that idea a bit further by piecing not only different takes -- but different sounds, feelings and styles altogether.
Keep in mind that this solo covers a helluva lot of ground in only about 30-40 seconds.
We Will Rock You - Queen
[Solo starts at 01:35]
If I'd had a hand in writing this song I don't think I could have possibly imagined a guitar part that not only stands alongside the triumphant vocals and percussion of this song, but also takes it up a notch.
This solo comes in amazing and relentlessly tough, but then showcases an awesome melody to boot.
A stunning bit of writing on Mr. May's part.
Zero - Smashing Pumpkins
The guitar solo to this song has always impressed me with its strategically chaotic sound. It feels like the song just tears apart at the bridge, making the solo feel almost gory. With the dual slide guitar parts with whammy pedals on top, it's even more staggering.
Then, right afterwards, there's a section that builds to the last chorus with a steadily rising series of notes. It stacks its way one by one until it reaches this anthemic high note that pierces the listener's ear in a wonderfully painful way.
I love that note.