A few years back, the editors of Guitar World magazine compiled what we feel is the ultimate guide to the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time.
The list, which has been quoted by countless artists, websites and publications around the world, starts with Richie Sambora's work on Bon Jovi's “Wanted Dead or Alive” (Number 100) and builds to a truly epic finish with Jimmy Page's solo on "Stairway to Heaven" (Number 1).
To quote our "Stairway" story that ran with the list, "If Jimmy Page is the Steven Spielberg of guitarists, then 'Stairway' is his Close Encounters."
Today we're kicking off a summer blockbuster of our own — a no-holds-barred six-string shootout. We're pitting Guitar World's top 64 guitar solos against each other in an NCAA-style, 64-team single-elimination tournament. Every day, we will ask you to cast your vote in a different guitar-solo matchup as dictated by the 64-team-style bracket (which we will share soon!).
Note that you can vote only once per matchup. The voting for each matchup ends as soon as the next matchup is posted (Basically, that's one poll per day during the first round of elimination, including weekends and holidays).
In some cases, genre will clash against genre; a thrash solo might compete against a Southern rock solo, for instance. But let's get real: They're all guitar solos, played on guitars, by guitarists, most of them in some subset of the umbrella genre of rock. When choosing, it might have to come down to, "Which solo is more original and creative? Which is more iconic? or Which one kicks a larger, more impressive assemblage of asses?"
The voting starts today (Monday, June 10, 2013), with a serious barn burner: Joe Satriani's "Surfing with the Alien" (30) vs. Pantera's "Cemetery Gates" (35), featuring the fretwork of the late, great Dimebag Darrell. Get busy! You'll find the poll at the bottom of the story.
Round 1, Day 1: "Surfing with the Alien" Vs. "Cemetery Gates"
30. “Surfing with the Alien”
Soloist: Joe Satriani
Album: Surfing with the Alien (Epic, 1987)
“We didn’t know where that song was going until one afternoon when we went to record the melody and I plugged a wah-wah pedal and a Tubedriver into my 100-watt Marshall,” Joe Satriani says. “Then, just on a whim, I said, ‘Let’s try this harmonizer.’ It was one of those Eventide 949s. The sound that came out of the speakers blew us away so much that we recorded the melody and the solo in about a half-hour and sat back and went, ‘Whoa! This is a song, man!’"
35. “Cemetery Gates”
Soloist: Dimebag Darrell
Album: Pantera—Cowboys from Hell (Elektra, 1990)
“I got home with a pretty good buzz on, picked up my ax, turned on the four-track, cranked it loud as hell with the loose buzz theory that anything and everything goes, and just played it,” Dimebag recalls. “I played three solos back-to-back, didn’t bother listening to ’em and crashed out not so happy. The next morning I woke up thinking I had a lot of work to do…I almost started from scratch but then decided to slow down and listen. So I fired up my four-track, put my ears on and bam! Lo and behold, there it was! The first lead I played the night before was it for sure. Hey man, the second and third weren’t bad, but the first had that first-take magic! I didn’t touch it.”
Winner: "Surfing with the Alien" (66.3 percent)
Loser: "Cemetery Gates" (33.7 percent)
Please check out our current Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time poll at GuitarWorld.com!