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Here are some of my favourite solos (with sound clips), guitarists and guitars.
These are not top 10 lists, just some things I like. I expect I'll change them around a little over time as I grow tired of some things and appreciate new things.
Now, if you're someone who believes there is such a thing as the best guitarist in the world, and that anyone who doesn't agree with you is wrong, then please set up your own website to tell the world about it. To me, that's completely meaningless; it's like trying to define what the best colour in the world is. But I also appreciate how passionate we are about our favourites.
What makes a great solo? Is it an all-out jam session where everything is spontaneous and creative? Or is it a composed and orchestrated recital?
When I thought about some classic solos to put on my site, I first thought of the creative energy of Hendrix in full flight, and Roy Buchanan at his best. Or maybe some of the talented unpredictability of players like Jay Graydon. And what about the pyrotechnics of players like Gary Moore, Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, Steve Vai & others? These types of performances, where players stretch themselves to the limit and beyond have produced some of the most amazing phrases and live moments ever, and it's a privilege to be there when it happens.
But the solos that stick in my mind seem to be the composed ones. Some people may find composed solos contrived, but I think that if they are good enough, it's easy to play them over and over again with feeling. You can even interpret them, and play them your own way. To my ears, a great solo has every note sitting right, the phrasing is natural, they build and ebb with feeling, and they add to the meaning of the songs they're in.
The Cars - Tonight She Comes - solo by Elliot Easton
Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower
Al Stewart - Year Of The Cat - solos by Peter White & Tim Renwick
Queen - Killer Queen - solo by Brian May
Michael Jackson - Beat It - solo by Eddie Van Halen
Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven - solo by Jimmy Page
Zucchero and Paul Young - Senza Una Donna - solo by Corrado Rustici
Cold Chisel - Forever Now - solo by Ian Moss
Deep Purple - Lazy - solo by Ritchie Blackmore
Chuck Mangione - Feels So Good - solo by Grant Geissman
The things that impress me most about guitarists are:
Sure, my interests are pretty mainstream, and I appreciate that for what it is: Keeping your personality and style shining through marketing hype is a real achievement! OK - here we go...
Well, this is pretty easy. I like the traditional classics, because together, they've probably been used to record around 90% of the electric sounds ever. I should also point out that they're responsible for nearly all of the clichéd sounds ever heard as well, so if you're looking for a different sound, use a different guitar!
I really like sunburst finishes, and I'm not a fan of overly decorative inlays, even though I know its a highly skilled art-form. I much prefer the natural beauty of the woods used.
These guitars are quality instruments, practical workhorses, and any one of them can be used to play just about any musical style. Here they are ...
Fender Stratocaster To me the most versatile guitar ever, with the most character. From rich and chimey clean sounds to wailing and snarly overdrives, there's not much you can't do with a strat!
Gibson Les Paul Full creamy clean tones, endless sustain, and a definitive country rock sound. These roar within smelling distance of a Marshall stack!
Fender Telecaster More than just a country guitar, this has plenty of its own character, from bitey attack to smooth and full liquid tones. Also cool jazz tones, and versatile rhythm sounds. This is your basic, honest, hard working guitar!
Gibson 335 The woody vibe of a hollow body with all the benefits of electric. Rich and creamy tones with their own distinctive character.
Paul Reed Smith Although not having a sound you can instantly hear and say "That's a PRS!", these are simply high quality instruments. You can get good single coil and humbucking sounds from the same guitar. And they have their own unique shape and style (now copied by others, of course). Full credit to Paul for successfully breaking the endless run of copied styles.
I've limited my selections to the original designs, partly to give credit to the creators. Both Fender and Gibson have had quality and supply problems over their long histories, but they have their act together at the moment. Yes, you can buy higher quality boutique instruments at very high prices that are truly superb. At the other end of the scale, you can also buy good copies of these instruments for a fraction of the cost, representing fantastic value. Overall, you get what you pay for.