The 10 best guitar solos of 2020

[L-R] Joe Satriani, Plini, Gus G and Kiko Loureiro
(Image credit: Xavi Torrent/Miikka Skaffari/Brigitte Engl/Lauren James/Getty Images)

Some of you reading this might be old enough to remember the golden age of shred, as electric guitar accelerated right on beyond thunderdome and it all seemed like guitar playing had reached its zenith.

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[L-R] Mark Tremonti, Stephen Carpenter, Matt Heafy and Daron Malakian

(Image credit: Paul Bergen/Sergione Infuso/Frank Hoensch/Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images)

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STAFF PICK: The Black Dahlia Murder - Sunless Empire

Lead man Brandon Ellis whips up a vortex of shred in this choice cut from TBDM’s latest album, Verminous. Offering a melodic sense of reprieve after the track’s cacophonic arrangement prior, he kicks things into gear with a whammy bar squeal followed by a series of descending lines, before letting loose with a rapid-fire note volley wrought with winding sweeps, killer alternate picking and pinpoint-precise bends. Not only is this solo fantastically virtuosic, but it spares no expense in terms of feel, either. – Sam Roche


STAFF PICK: Larkin Poe - Holy Ghost Fire

The sisters Lovell were in fantastic form on their hard-rockin’, sound-expandin’ new album, Self Made Man. Though packed with great playing, the scorched-earth, straight-from-the-South ferocity of Megan Lovell’s Holy Ghost Fire solo really stands out – hitting all of its points efficiently and with authority in barely a blink of an eye. – Jackson Maxwell


STAFF PICK: Melanie Faye - It's a Moot Point

It’s a close call between John Mayer's sensual lead on Leon Bridges’ Inside Friend and this standout single from the breakout Instagram star for the neo-soul guitar performance of the year, but Faye's seemingly effortless pentatonic flurries and vocal slides see her take the crown. Guitar playing in 2020 really doesn't get much more expressive or melodic than this. – Michael Astley-Brown

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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.