What would Eric Clapton's classic "White Room" guitar solo be without that meaty, ubiquitous wah effect? What if Slowhand had decided to opt for heavy tremolo or tape delay instead?
Of course, that issue is moot. Because, instead of these pointless questions, what we have instead is a timeless, iconic guitar solo on timeless track by a bona fide guitar god.
But seriously, just how much does the stompbox or processor chosen by a guitarist for a particular solo influence how that solo is perceived or enjoyed by the listener? Certainly there's some logic when choosing an effect; tremolo won't do your fast hammer-ons any justice, for instance, and a crunchy overdrive can truly turn your high notes into, well, mush.
A well-chosen effect for the guitar solo, however, can wind up being as important as a song's lyrics, vocals, beat and chord structure. Take Peter Frampton's "Do You Feel Like We Do." The song is synonymous with the talk box Frampton used on the extended solo. Here are 10 songs that offer the same experience; 10 songs made special, classic or, dare we say "iconic" by the effect chosen for the guitar solo. By the way, we've left out Cream's "White Room," so feel free to consider that the 11th song. Enjoy!
"Flight of the Bumble Bee," Extreme
Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt is one talented dude. By using a short delay repeat time on a Boss DD-3 pedal, Bettencourt tackles “Flight of the Bumble Bee” with a veracity and nimbleness seldom seen today.
"Do You Feel Like We Do," Peter Frampton
While Frampton Comes Alive catapulted Peter Frampton to stardom in 1976, it was this performance on Midnight Special a year earlier that introduced the masses to this gifted guitarist (as a solo artist, at least), and also where Frampton debuted his talk box.
"The Man Who Sold the World," Nirvana
This David Bowie cover, pulled from Nirvana’s classic MTV Unplugged show, was revered for its laid-back vibe and melodic appeal. Kurt Cobain used the Boss DS-1 pedal on the lead riff and solo and also was known to use the Boss DS-2.
"Brighton Rock," Queen
Leading off Queen’s third album, Sheer Heart Attack, is the hard-charging “Brighton Rock,” which showcases Brian May’s breakthrough tape echo delay in full force. May is known for building his own guitar, “the Red Special,” with his dad and often employed repeated delays to go along with his signature sound.
"Killing in the Name Of," Rage Against the Machine
This standout rap/rock offering introduced the world to RATM and guitarist Tom Morello. Using the original DigiTech Whammy, Morello tremolo-picked an unforgettable and unique solo that achieved otherwise-impossible pitch-shifted bends.
"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," Jimi Hendrix
The wah pedal wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for Jimi Hendrix’s usage on “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)." The Vox Clyde McCoy Wah is featured prominently throughout this well-known Hendrix classic.
"Eruption," Van Halen
The guitar industry owes a lot of gratitude to Eddie Van Halen for creating a worldwide market for new effects and guitar sounds. “Eruption,” with some help from the MXR Phase 90 pedal, became arguably the most recognizable guitar solo in rock history, lengthened here in this early Eighties concert clip.
"Cliffs of Dover," Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson rose to guitar prominence in the mid-Eighties, thanks to “Cliffs of Dover." Johnson used fuzz and reverb to get his unmistakable sound that complimented his eclectic, melodic style.
"Fool in the Rain," Led Zeppelin
A highlight of Led Zeppelin’s final proper studio album, In Through the Out Door,” “Fool in the Rain” was a radio success story that included a very interesting fuzz-laden, octave-below guitar solo by Jimmy Page. Page added an MXR Blue Box to add color and depth to this uncharacteristic Led Zep track.
"She Sells Sanctuary," the Cult
The Cult guitarist Billy Duffy captures a very warm, spacey sound on the breakthrough hit, “She Sells Sanctuary." Using a combination of a Boss Flanger, Analog Delay and Chorus, Duffy expertly layers a wall of sound to complement singer Ian Astbury’s emotive vocals.