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Essential Listening: 14 Addictive Guitar Tones That'll Have You Crying Out for More

Essential Listening: 14 Addictive Guitar Tones That'll Have You Crying Out for More

“Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin? “Glamour Girl” by T-Bone Walker? "Cliffs of Dover" by Eric Johnson?

The list of songs with killer guitar tones is endless, and singling out any single song as the best is, of course, subjective.

The most memorable guitar tones don't scream out for attention; instead, they pull at the melody and cut across the bed created by the rhythm section without being too showy, abrasive or predictable.

In a sense, great tone conveys something about the songs without using words.

John Lennon’s rhythm guitar intro to “I Feel Fine” is a great example, as are Carlos Santana’s solo on “Black Magic Woman” and Mick Ronson’s work on David Bowie's “Ziggy Stardust”—although none of them made the cut here. Instead, we tried to choose songs from across genres that speak to something indescribable and primal and that can get a conversation started.

Why 14 songs? We were gonna stick with 10, but since this is our first official "Essential Listening" story of 2014, we chose 14 in honor of another year of this ongoing series! Note that these songs are presented in no particular order. We repeat: They are presented in no particular order.

On that note, enjoy!

“Back In Black,” AC/DC (Angus Young)

Much like punk rock, the sound of AC/DCs “Back In Black” (the album and the song) launched a million garage bands.

It’s the sound of an SG through a Marshall stack, unadorned by effects. What could be simpler? Yet Angus Young’s signature riff—and particularly his serrated solo—is impossible to replicate.

Chances are you know the song by heart. So maybe just scroll to 1:52 (and again at 3:36) and watch Young attack his Gibson with gusto while maintaining impeccable vibrato and tone. Classic.



Perfect Pedal Order with Steve Vai