The latest issue of Total Guitar reveals the results of our poll of the 50 greatest guitar solos of all time – Brian May has already reacted to taking the top spot with Bohemian Rhapsody – but we’ve also gone the extra mile and broken down what makes a winning guitar lead.
Analyzing each of the greatest guitar solos in terms of key, tempo, ‘notiness’ and melody, we have assembled what we believe is scientifically the greatest guitar solo of all time – a brand-new Frankenstein’s monster of a lead. Here’s the essential info...
First, the tempo – the 50 greatest solos range between 64 and 170 bpm, so we’ve opted for a close-to-average 120 bpm. A minor key is essential, so we’re in E minor, but with a few moments spent hinting at E harmonic minor and E Dorian. A minimum of 2.5 octaves of pitch range is vital, and we’ve covered about three octaves.
The lowest notes appear in the first half of the solo, before building to the highest point later on. The ‘notiest’ bars of music begin about two thirds of the way through and we’ve made sure to include a mix of fast, shreddy content and melodic hooks – all essential stuff.
Following a melodic opening lick, we move into a Comfortably Numb-style arpeggio, Bohemian Rhapsody-style staccato notes and Crazy Train-inspired tapped string bends.
Next is some Highway Star-style picking, taking in brief Free Bird and Sweet Child O’ Mine-inspired licks to lead into a Fade To Black idea.
The arpeggios that follow reference Hotel California over a While My Guitar Gently Weeps-influenced chord progression, and we round things off with a Sweet Child… motif and Beat It-style harmonics. Phew!
There’s loads for you to learn in the accompanying tab, including licks in the styles of several iconic guitarists, which you can get hold of in the latest issue of Total Guitar, available from Magazines Direct.
Just remember, if anyone asks what you’re playing, tell them it’s the scientifically proven greatest solo of all time!