A few years ago, the editors of Guitar World 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” (100) and builds to a truly epic finish with Jimmy Page's solo on "Stairway to Heaven" (01).
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."
On June 10, we kicked off a summer blockbuster of our own — a no-holds-barred six-string shootout. We pitted Guitar World's top 64 guitar solos against each other in an NCAA-style, 64-team single-elimination tournament. Every day, we asked you to cast your vote in a different guitar-solo matchup as dictated by the 64-team-style bracket. Now Rounds 1 and 2 have come and gone, leaving us with 16 guitar solos and eight matchups.
WELCOME TO THE SWEET 16 ROUND, where all 16 still-standing solos will go head to head before your eyes! As always, you can vote once per matchup, and the voting ends as soon as the next matchup is posted.
In some cases, genre will clash against genre; a thrash solo might compete against a Southern rock solo. But please get real, people! 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 important? or Which one kicks a larger, more impressive assemblage of asses?"
Winner: "Eruption" (59.41 percent)
Loser: "Little Wing" (40.59 percent)
Today's Sweetwater Sweet 16 Matchup (6 of 8)
"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" Vs. "Whole Lotta Love"
Today and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday), we'll see Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (11) go head to head with Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" (38), which features a guitar solo by Jimmy Page. Both Jims started off with multiple solos in our Sweet 16, but now that "Little Wing" was defeated by "Eruption" over the weekend, "Voodoo Child" is Hendrix's last gasp in our poll. If things go south for Page in this matchup, he still has "Stairway to Heaven" to rely on — and let's not forget the upcoming battle between Page's "Since I've Been Loving You" and Randy Rhoads' "Mr. Crowley."
HOW THEY GOT HERE
• "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" defeated Smashing Pumpkins' "Geek USA" (54) in Round 1 and Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing" (22) in Round 2.
• "Whole Lotta Love" defeated Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Pride and Joy" (27) in Round 1 and Guns N' Roses' "November Rain" (06) in Round 2.
Get busy! You'll find the poll at the very bottom of the story.
11. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”
Soloist: Jimi Hendrix
Album: The Jimi Hendrix Experience—Electric Ladyland (Experience Hendrix/MCA, 1968)
Jimi Hendrix’s publicist, Michael Goldstein, had successfully arranged for ABC-TV to produce a short news feature based primarily on the Experience’s triumphant success in America. Filming began on May 3, 1968, with 16mm cameras capturing the recording of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” which, like many Hendrix songs, borrowed both musical and lyrical themes from Muddy Waters and other Delta bluesmen.
“ ‘Voodoo Child’ was something Jimi brought in, and we learned that song right on the spot in front of the cameras,” recalls bassist Noel Redding. “We ran through it about three times, and that was it.”
It is not known whether ABC ever used any of the footage. And, unfortunately, all the camera originals were stolen from ABC’s archives sometime after Jimi’s death. The reel also included footage of the group performing at the Fillmore East and the Miami Pop Festival.
Engineer Eddie Kramer recalls: “ ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’ was recorded the day after Jimi tracked ‘Voodoo Chile,’ the extended jam on Electric Ladyland featuring Traffic’s Stevie Winwood on organ and Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady. Basically, Jimi used the same setup—his Strat through a nice, warm Fender Bassman amp. Jimi’s sound on both tracks is remarkably consistent, leading some to think they were recorded at the same session.”
38. "Whole Lotta Love”
Soloist: Jimmy Page
Album: Led Zeppelin—Led Zeppelin II (Atlantic, 1969)
“I used distant miking to get that rhythm guitar tone,” says Jimmy Page. “Miking used to be a science, and I’d heard that distance makes depth, which in turn gives you a fatter guitar sound. The amp was turned up very high. It was distorting, just controlled to the point where it had some balls to it. I also used a depressed wah-wah pedal on the solo, as I did on ‘Communication Breakdown.’
"It gets you a really raucous sound. The descending riff that answers the line ‘whole lotta love’ was created using slide and backward echo. Backward echo has been used a lot now, but I think I was the first to use it.”
[[ When you're done voting, start learning most of the guitar solos in this poll — and and a whole lot more! Check out a new TAB book from Guitar World and Hal Leonard: 'The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time: A Treasure Trove of Guitar Leads Transcribed Note-for-Note, Plus Song Notes for More Than 40 of the Best Solos.' It's available now at the Guitar World Online Store for $29.99. NOTE: Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" guitar solo (solo number 39 on our list) is NOT included in this book. ]]