The Six Coolest Stratocaster Solos — Ever

(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

When the curvaceous Fender Stratocaster marked six decades of innovation and influence in 2014, Guitar World celebrated its legacy via 60 players, songs, solos and historical moments. (You can find all our Strat roundups in the October 2014 issue of GW).

Here's a look at six of the coolest Strat solos—ever!

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” Electric Ladyland (1968)

One of Jimi Hendrix’s most incendiary studio performances, this solo still delivers some of the most aggressive Strat tones ever heard. In the more than four decades since Hendrix recorded it, few solos have come close to its intensity.

Deep Purple: “Highway Star” Machine Head (1972)

Ritchie Blackmore composed this solo like a song unto itself that resembled a J.S. Bach prelude, double-tracking a harmony guitar part before unleashing a fierce flurry of ascending triplets and descending open-string pedal-tone pull-offs at the solo’s climax.

Dire Straits“Sultans of Swing” Dire Straits (1978)

Mark Knopfler wrenches every possible ounce of emotion out of his Strat’s percussive but singing clean tone, performing slinky string bends, snappy plucks and flowing pull-offs that make his deceptively simple melodic lines sound divine.

Pink Floyd: “Comfortably Numb” The Wall (1979)

Here David Gilmour says more with a few well-placed notes and heart-wrenching bends than most players ever express in their entire careers. This tour de force performance made “Comfortably Numb” the true climax of Pink Floyd’s The Wall album.

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble: “Texas Flood” Texas Flood (1983)

While Stevie Ray Vaughan's recording of this song owes debts to Larry Davis, who originally wrote it, and Albert King, whose signature licks Vaughan co-opted as his own, it remains one of the finest showcases of his massive tone, stinging vibrato and unique emotional voice.

Jeff Beck: “Where Were You,” Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop (1989)

On “Where Were You,” Jeff Beck takes the Strat into entirely new territory that transcends the guitar’s preconceived limitations by manipulating the whammy bar, volume controls and harmonics—sometimes all at once. The result sounds like angels crying.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.