Revealed: The Best Guitar Solo Of All Time!

This year's Download Festival headliners slaughter the opposition to seize the crown in the world's biggest online rock survey to date!

“You’re on ten on your guitar”, states Spinal Tap legend Nigel Tufnell, famously, “Where can you go from there?”

Every rock fan in the world knows that “for that extra push over the cliff”, there is only one place to go from there… Eleven!

[R-Zone1]Now, in real life, amps (even Marshall stacks) only go up to ten. That “one louder” is not achieved by turning a dial. It’s achieved by throwing one’s body into a dramatic rock shape, gurning the face and letting the guitar take center stage. The resulting ‘solo’ can be a scream or a whisper, but the voice that emerges is every bit as powerful, emotive and articulate as that of the band’s singer, if not more so. People don’t listen to Hendrix for the words that left his mouth, his true lyrics were spoken through the pick-ups on his burning Strat.

[L-Zone2]As the world’s most vibrant and opinionated interactive online rock forum, what better place to conduct a poll to judge the best guitar solo ever, than on the Official Download Festival Message Boards? Over a period of 8 weeks, nominations were collected from the 2000+ registered community, before the most popular twenty suggestions were then put to a public vote. The results are as follows:

In first place, title for the undisputed guitar solo champion, with a crushing 29.4% of the total vote, goes to Metallica’s chief shredder Kirk Hammett, for his superhuman fretwork in the live version of the band’s epic ‘One’.


[R-Zone1]Interestingly, second place (with 11.8%) goes to the guitarist that Kirk Hammett replaced when he joined Metallica, Dave Mustaine, for his rampant solo in (subsequent band) Megadeth’s ‘Hangar 18’.

Despite appearing to be the clear favourite at the nominations stage, Guns N’ Roses’ reptilian Slash finishes in third place (with 9.8%) for his classic ‘grand piano striding’ solo at the end of November Rain… but additionally pulls fourth place out of his top hat for his solo in ‘Sweet Child of Mine’.

[L-Zone2]Joint fifth place (6% each) is awarded to last year’s Download Festival headliners Iron Maiden, for Adrian Smith’s solo in ‘Walking on Glass’ and Eddie Van Halen for the Van Halen masterpiece that is ‘Eruption’.

Sixth place is markedly less definitive, with Angus Young (AC/DC)’s ‘Thunderstruck’, Matt Bellamy (Muse)’s ‘New Born’, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Tom Morello (Audioslave)’s ‘Like a Stone’ and Joe Perry (Aerosmith)’s ‘Dream On’ each scoring a joint ‘4%’ of the vote!

[R-Zone3]Although it tends to win most ‘Best Solo’ south-west-four-sw4-2009 in guitar and rock magazines, The Eagles‘ ‘Hotel California’ failed to win a single vote from the contemporary online rock crowd. Surprisingly, neither did God of Grunge Kurt Cobain, who had been suggested frequently at nominations stage for his solo in ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.

You can catch the champion Kirk Hammett performing some of the best live guitar solos on the planet, when Metallica close the opening day of the Download Festival in Scotland on June 2, and the final day of Donington on June 6!