The secrets behind Uli Jon Roth’s guitar tone on The Scorpions’ The Sails of Charon

Uli Jon Roth
(Image credit: Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

To me, the four cornerstones of modern shred rock guitar are Al Di Meola’s Race with Devil on Spanish Highway, Michael Schenker with UFO on the live version of Rock Bottom, Eddie Van Halen’s Eruption and Uli Jon Roth with the Scorpions on The Sails of Charon – all four of which were recorded in 1977-78. 

The Scorpions song was the most “under the radar” of the four back in the day as the band hadn’t yet broken through to radio airplay in the United States, but thanks to guitarists who discovered The Sails of Charon over the years, it has earned a rightful place as a highly influential shred classic.

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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.