A few years ago, 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 to Heaven" 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.
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?"
Today, guitar solos by two bona fide guitar heroes go head to head: Dimebag Darrell's work on Pantera's "Floods" (19) is up against Eddie Van Halen's "winged" solo on Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" (46). Get busy! You'll find the poll at the bottom of the story.
Winner: "Crazy Train" (74.71 percent)
Loser: "War Pigs" (25.29 percent)
Round 1, Day 9: "Floods" Vs. "Hot for Teacher"
Soloist: Dimebag Darrell
Album: Pantera—The Great Southern Trendkill (Elektra, 1996)
“That particular solo was thought-out in a more orchestrated fashion than some of the others I play where I just start ripping right off the bat,” says Dimebag Darrell. “The thing that really makes the ‘Floods’ solo come across like it does is [bassist] Rex’s playing behind it. He’s using his fingers and he plays a whole bunch of cool licks and s--- in there. He definitely adds to the vibe and feel of my lead because I’m playing off his part a lot—it was a great foundation for me to build on.”
To fatten up the sound of the catchy arpeggiated theme that fills the first eight bars of his lead, Darrell doubled the part. “I picked up the idea of doubling from Randy Rhoads. It seemed appropriate to start off in a slow, melodic fashion and then build and build and build to the climax with the big harmonic squeals at the end.
"For that last big note I think there’s four guitars going on. There’s a squeal at the second fret of the G string, a squeal at the fifth fret of the G and then I used a DigiTech Whammy Pedal on two-string squeals at the harmonics at the fourth and 12th frets of the G and B strings, I believe. That was one of those deals where I didn’t plan it out. I just sat there and f---ed with it until it sounded right.”
46. "Hot for Teacher”
Soloist: Eddie Van Halen
Album: Van Halen—1984 (Warner Bros., 1984)
“I winged that one,” says Eddie Van Halen. “If you listen to it, the timing changes in the middle of nowhere. We were in a room playing together and I kind of winked at the guys and said, ‘Okay, we’re changing now!’ Because I don’t count, I just follow my feelings. I tend to do a lot of things in threes and fives, instead of fours.
“My weird sense of time just drives my brother Alex nuts because he’s a drummer, so he has to count. But generally he’ll say, ‘Well, Ed, you did it in five again. If that’s the way you want it…’ But that’s not the way I want it, that’s just what feels right to me.”