The 15 Best Guitar Solos of All Time

Every guitarist has an opinion on the greatest recorded guitar solos. The editors of Guitar World magazine put together a poll to find out what their readers considered to be the best guitar solos of all time. The results reflect the magazine's demographic (all rock solos), but the top 15 winners boast great guitar work.

The following lists the top 15 guitar solos ever recorded including guitar tab, details on the guitarist who played the solo, album name, and links to audio.

of 15

Stairway to Heaven

Jimmy Page

Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Led Zeppelin' s landmark 1971 album, "Led Zeppelin IV," is one of the best-selling albums of all time and contains some of the band's most memorable hits. While Zep fans may argue over which of the album's songs is best, nearly everyone agrees that nothing can touch Jimmy Page's solo on "Stairway to Heaven."

of 15


Eddie Van Halen

Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Eddie Van Halen's thunderous guitar solo is from the band's 1978 debut album "Van Halen." It is the second track on the album and leads into "You Really Got Me," which became Van Halen's first single. Eddie Van Halen only cut two versions of this instrumental in the studio, and it almost didn't make the final version of the album. His guitar's unique sound comes from tweaks Van Halen made using the echo chamber's built-in 8-track recorder.

of 15


Lynyrd Skynyrd

Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns/Getty Images

Lynyrd Skynyrd's anthemic "Freebird" closes out the band's debut 1973 release, "Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd." It was their second top-20 hit. Although guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins would trade solos when they performed this power ballad live, it is Collins' guitar work heard on the studio recording. The song quickly became the band's anthem, taking on more significance for fans after lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and several other band members died in a plane crash in 1977.

of 15

Comfortably Numb

David Gilmour

Waring Abbott/Getty Images

With soaring orchestral accompaniment, "Comfortably Numb" closes outside three of ​Pink Floyd's epic 1979 concept album, "The Wall." Guitarist David Gilmour, who co-produced the album, was a legendary perfectionist in the studio. After choosing the five or six best takes of his solo, Gilmour took the best bits from each and mixed them to produce the solo heard on the album. 

of 15

All Along the Watchtower

Jimi Hendrix

David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

"All Along the Watchtower" was Jimi Hendrix's only top-40 hit in the U.S. It is the second-to-last track on 1968's "Electric Ladyland," the third and final album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix was a meticulous studio musician and drove his bandmates hard; at one point, bassist Noel Redding walked out. Hendrix recorded each of the solo's parts separately, with different setups for each (he reportedly used a cigarette lighter to play slide guitar).

of 15

November Rain

Slash Guns n Roses

Ke.Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

Guns N' Roses went big on their third release, "Use Your Illusion Vols. I and II." It was a double album that contained three epic-length tracks, including "November Rain." This cut from "Use Your Illusion I" is nearly nine minutes long and contains Slash's smoking guitar solo. The track was a huge hit in the U.S., peaking at No. 3. It also bears the distinction of being the longest song ever to enter the Billboard Hot 100.

of 15


Kirk Hammet

Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Metallica hit the top 40 for the first time with this heavy metal grinder from their third album, 1987's "...And Justice For All." Guitarist Kirk Hammet plays three distinct solos on this track. The first and last solos came easy during recording, but Hammet wasn't happy with the middle one. He later took a quick break during that year's Monsters of Rock tour to record a new solo in New York, which ended up on the album.

of 15

Hotel California

The Eagles, Don Felder and Joe Walsh

Michael Putland/Getty Images

Even if you don't know The Eagles, you've probably heard "Hotel California," the title track off the band's 1976 record. It's one of the best-selling albums of all time, and the song is the group's signature hit. Guitarists Don Felder and Joe Walsh trade off solos on the studio version, but it's Felder who wrote the intricate guitar lines, including the legendary 12-string acoustic.

of 15

Crazy Train

Ozzy Osbourne

Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Ozzy Osbourne went solo in 1980 with "Blizzard of Ozz," and the single "Crazy Train" became a top-10 hit in the U.S. Legendary guitarist Randy Rhoads gets credit for this solo, notable for containing a full minor chord (something almost unheard of in heavy metal). Rhoads, a classically trained musician, had his solo overdubbed three times to give his guitar added punch.

of 15


Eric Clapton

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

It's songs like "Crossroads" that had people scrawling "Clapton is God" on the walls back when he was with Cream. This track, off the band's 1968 double album "Wheels of Fire," was recorded live in San Francisco. Although the bluesy number has become one of Clapton's most memorable solos, he says the version heard on the record isn't a great example of guitar playing. As he told Guitar World, "Instead of playing on the two and the four, I’m playing on the one and the three."

of 15

Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

Jimi Hendrix performing

Vince Melamed/Getty Images

Jimi Hendrix makes our list a second time with "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)," another track from his third album, "Electric Ladyland." The psychedelic blues number was a staple of Hendrix's live performances ​when his solos could stretch the song to 10 or 15 minutes. The single, released posthumously in the U.K., became his only No. 1 in that country.

of 15

Johnny B. Goode

Chuck Berry portrait

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

A pioneer of rock 'n' roll, Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" is a classic by any standard. The song was a top hit in 1958 when it was released as a single, and it also appeared on Berry's third album, "Chuck Berry Is On Top," released the following year. 

of 15

Texas Flood

Stevie Ray Vaughan live

Larry Hulst/Getty Images

Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas blues put the Austin music scene on the map in the 1980s. "Texas Flood" is the title track from the 1983 album from Vaughan and his band Double Trouble. The band recorded the whole record in just two days. The resulting sound is pure Vaughan, no overdubs.

of 15


Eric Clapton performs at Royal Albert Hall in London

Redferns via Getty Images/Getty Images

After Eric Clapton left Cream behind, he formed Derek and the Dominos. The band only put out one album, but it's considered a landmark of its era. "Layla" appears on the double -LP "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs," released in 1970. Clapton's intense performance is backed up by Duane Allman on slide guitar.

of 15


Photo of a Pantera performance

Redferns/Getty Images

At just under seven minutes long, "Flood" is the longest song on Pantera's 1996 album, "The Great Southern Trendkill." Many fans of these groove-metal pioneers consider Darrel's solo to be the best of his career, which was cut short when he was shot dead by a fan in 2004.