A few years back, the editors of Guitar World magazine compiled what we feel is the ultimate guide to the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time.
The list, which has been quoted by countless artists, websites and publications around the world, starts with Richie Sambora's work on Bon Jovi's “Wanted Dead or Alive” (Number 100) and builds to a truly epic finish with Jimmy Page's solo on "Stairway to Heaven" (Number 1).
To quote our "Stairway" story that ran with the list, "If Jimmy Page is the Steven Spielberg of guitarists, then 'Stairway' is his Close Encounters."
We've kicked off a summer blockbuster of our own — a no-holds-barred six-string shootout. We're pitting Guitar World's top 64 guitar solos against each other in an NCAA-style, 64-team single-elimination tournament. Every day, we will ask you to cast your vote in a different guitar-solo matchup as dictated by the 64-team-style bracket (which we will share soon!).
Note that you can vote only once per matchup. The voting for each matchup ends as soon as the next matchup is posted (Basically, that's one poll per day during the first round of elimination, including weekends and holidays).
In some cases, genre will clash against genre; a thrash solo might compete against a Southern rock solo, for instance. But let's get real: They're all guitar solos, played on guitars, by guitarists, most of them in some subset of the umbrella genre of rock. When choosing, it might have to come down to, "Which solo is more original and creative? Which is more iconic? or Which one kicks a larger, more impressive assemblage of asses?"
Voting started Monday, June 10, 2013. Today's matchup is Steve Vai's "For the Love of God" (29) vs. Yngwie Malmsteen's "Dark Star" (36). Get busy! You'll find the poll at the bottom of the story.
Monday's winner: "Surfing with the Alien" (66.3 percent)
Monday's loser: "Cemetery Gates" (33.7 percent)
Round 1, Day 2: "For the Love of God" Vs. "Dark Star"
29. “For the Love of God”
Soloist: Steve Vai
Album: Passion and Warfare (Epic, 1991)
“The song is about how far people will go for the love of their god,” says Steve Vai. “When you discipline yourself to quit smoking, to run faster or to play better, you have to reach deep down into a part of you. That is a profoundly spiritual event. That’s when you come into contact with that little piece of God within you. That’s what I was trying to achieve with ‘For the Love of God’—I was trying to find that spot.”
36. "Black Star”
Soloist: Yngwie Malmsteen
Album: Rising Force (Polydor, 1984)
“I’ve been playing that song, or variations of it, since I was a teenager in Sweden,” Yngwie Malmsteen told his fan club. “I used to play really long, uninterrupted improvisations when I played local shows in Stockholm back then, and it developed from that. I didn’t sit down and actually write out the notes for it; when I’m feeling inspired, the music just flows out of me. It’s in my head and my ears and flows out of my fingers.”