The 10 best guitar solos of 2022

[L-R] Nita Strauss, Steve Vai, Sophie Lloyd and John Frusciante
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What can the greatest guitar solos of the year tell us about the business of playing the guitar? Well, in one sense, this annual democratic endeavor reveals a lot about where lead guitar is going technically. 

Once upon a time, some people were saying the guitar solo is dead, and yet here we are in 2022, in an era when individual virtuosity has never been more spectacular – and not just on social media, which has been an accelerant for neo-shred styles. Players are doing what they have always done, standing upon the shoulders of giants, in search of new techniques, new sounds, but also, more to the point, in search of themselves.


EDITOR’S PICK: Joe Satriani – Sahara
Fellow melodic king Nick Johnston nominated the keyboard/guitar duels of Sailing the Seas of Ganymede for the crown this year, and it was narrowly pipped to the post. But we’re giving props to the leadoff track from Satriani’s new opus here, which saw the godfather of shred tear up the rulebook he’d been writing for his past few records as he turned to plugins for his tones, and ultimately produced his best album in decades. Sahara’s first solo is Satch at his most gloriously understated, channeling David Gilmour with a crystalline tone, followed by an Engines of Creation-style liquid legato lead further down the line. Both solos are understated and melodic, and break new ground for the virtuoso. After nearly four decades of recorded output, Satch still has the ability to surprise. – Michael Astley-Brown


EDITOR'S PICK: Lari Basilio – Your Love
Part of what makes a good guitarist a great one is their feel, phrasing and ability to navigate the fretboard with melodic ease. When it comes down to this, Lari Basilio truly is one of today’s best. Sure, her technique is pinpoint and her tone is to die for, but what elevates her status is her ability to weave together vocal-like licks and gorgeous waterfalls of six-string magic with hypnotic accuracy. Your Love is pure Basilio – an exhibition of her soloing prowess and a masterclass in phrasing. – Matt Owen


EDITOR'S PICK: Eric Gales – You Don't Know The Blues
One of the highlights from the Memphis native’s sterling, Joe Bonamassa-produced 2022 album, Crown, You Don't Know The Blues is the genre in its purest, most powerful form. Right after the second chorus, Gales slides right on into a show-stopping minute-long break that has it all – his blink-and-you-miss-it speed, piercing vibrato, impeccable phrasing, and, through all the solo’s fiery twists and turns, the brilliant instincts that allow him to land perfectly on his feet just in time for the third verse. – Jackson Maxwell


EDITOR'S PICK: Megadeth – We’ll Be Back
The first single from Megadeth’s highly anticipated 16th studio album The Sick, The Dying… and The Dead! brought with it a bona-fide onslaught of screeching metal and laser-precise, machine-gun-esque alternate-picked guitar riffs – complete, naturally, with a brutal military-themed music video. But the real firepower in We’ll Be Back lies within the ever-formidable lead playing chops of the band’s two axemen, Kiko Loureiro and Dave Mustaine. Across its four-and-a-half minute runtime sits an unbridled bounty of fretboard fireworks, but Kiko’s second solo, with its lightning-fast alternate picking, head-spinning two-handed tapping and rapid legato slides, is worthy, in our book, of the six-string Medal of Honor. – Sam Roche

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.