Let’s get on with it! The solos cover a wide range of music types but they’re all within reach of a beginner player. The solos from number 37 on-wards are the ones that are a little more difficult and bordering on intermediate level, so learn a few of the easier ones first if you’re a beginner. Most of the solos shouldn’t give you any trouble, but if they do then bear in mind the tips above and you shouldn’t have a problem!
1. Smells like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
This is a great solo by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. It's not fancy, but it doesn't have to be - it sounds great anyway! Often the key to making something sound good is in simplicity rather than cramming everything with notes, and this solo is a great example of that. Watch out for the bends - it's actually more of a "blues" bend - that's a bend without any specific pitch, so just bend it up a little bit and then release the note. Practice it a few times to see if you can get it to sound just like the record.
2. Californication (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
This is a great example of a simple solo done well. It doesn't have any unnecessary notes, and despite its simplicity it still sounds interesting. This is a great first solo to learn, and it's got a few really nice bends which help to build up your technique. Best of all, it just sounds great!
3. Wonderful Tonight Intro (Eric Clapton)
This is a really nice and simple intro solo from Eric Clapton. Like with many of these solos, it's all about the feel - make sure your vibrato and bends sound good and play around with the slides a bit to get different sounds. This one is in G major.
4. Parisienne Walkways Intro (Gary Moore)
You might struggle to play all of the lead guitar parts in this song (some of the licks are quite fast), but that doesn't mean you can't learn this really cool intro solo. It's vital that your bends are in tune if you want this one to sound good - try playing the target pitch normally and then bending up to it to see how close you can get it.
5. Bad Penny (Rory Gallagher)
This intro solo/riff to Bad Penny by Rory Gallagher should be within reach of any beginner. Rory is hailed as one of the greatest blues and rock guitarists ever - learn this and you'll get a great insight into his style.
It's important with this to focus on the little things. The notes themselves are pretty easy, but the challenge is in the bends and vibrato. The main solo for this song uses many of the same notes as this intro, but played twelve frets (one octave) higher. See if you can learn that too, and get the whole song under your fingers!
6. Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns n’ Roses)
Apart from the main ending solo, this song a simple one that anybody can learn – but it sounds great! Emulating the sound of Slash requires really good bends and a really smooth tone, so practice getting your bends in tune and turn up the bass on your amp (while turning down the treble) to get something close to his tone.
There is a longer more complex solo later on in this song, but if you're a beginner then leave that one for when you've improved - some of the licks can be a bit tricky!
7. Still Got the Blues Intro (Gary Moore)
This is another iconic song by Gary Moore. This intro melody is pretty easy to play, and it sounds brilliant if done well. I'd recommend that every guitar player learns this just so they can hear for themselves how important good vibrato is - if your vibrato on your bends is good, then this will sound absolutely great. Try experimenting with some other techniques like pick rakes and hammer ons/pull-offs to vary the sound (for instance, playing a note with a pull-off instead of with a pick stroke) just like Gary Moore does when he plays this live.
8. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles)
This is a great song from arguably the world’s most famous band of all time. Everybody loves The Beatles! It’s a nice emotional solo that is a great opportunity for you to practice your lead guitar skills. This song is also a great example of good song writing – notice how it all builds up throughout to the dramatic close. The instruments slowly get added in and change in dynamics to create an overall great piece of music.
9. High and Dry (Radiohead)
This is a nice, simple solo that anyone can learn pretty quickly. Be careful that your fretting hand fingers are fretting the strings properly, otherwise they might stop the high E string from sounding properly. This is a nice example of a simple solo that doesn't sound like its "bolted on" to the song - it really feels like it fits the song and adds to it.
10. Come Together (The Beatles)
This main solo starts at around 2.00 minutes into the song. It's another great one for practising your bends, and it's an ideal way to see how almost a whole solo can be built from one string. There are actually two guitars in this solo that play together, but you can just play the main one so you can still get a sound similar to the record.
11. Baby Blue (Badfinger)
This is an old song by Badfinger with a solo that works really well to join sections of the song together. Some of the bends on the higher strings can be quite tricky, so remember to stay relaxed and practice them until you can do them perfectly.
12. Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix)
This is a really famous intro that is pretty easy to play. The rest of the song can be tricky, but the intro is something that every guitar player should learn, no matter their level! Notice the subtle variations each time the riff is repeated - they are similar, but each time there's something a little bit different to make it sound more interesting.
13. Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix)
Another Jimi Hendrix one here! This is another song that you’ll be able to learn the intro solo to. It’s an incredibly iconic riff and one that almost any music fan will recognise. It’s got some really cool phrasing too, so as always don’t just focus on which notes to play – focus on HOW you’re playing them.
Playing Hendrix songs is great fun and by learning this and the intro riff to Voodoo Child, you’ll get a great insight into his style that will show you how to inject your own playing with some of his style. Have fun – this one is a blast!
14. Hard Day’s Night (The Beatles)
Yet another Beatles solo! They’re all quite easy to play because they are nice and melodic. This is a great song that almost everyone will recognise. If you like your classics, it’s a great one to learn – and even if you’re not into The Beatles, I’d still recommend it because they influenced so many great acts.
There is one little fast lick in this solo that’s played in the middle and end of the solo that could cause you some trouble. Don’t worry about it – keep repeating that part slowly and cleanly and before you know it you’ll be playing it just like The Beatles!
15. I feel fine (The Beatles)
And another one from The Beatles. This is a nice and short one that fits the song well and compliments the vocal melodies. The main riff from this song is also good to learn because it shows you how something so simple can be so catchy, as well as how you can develop a basic idea into a full song.
It’s a really easy solo to learn (ideal if you’ve never learned any solos before) and it’s good for practising your slides up and down the fretboard. Play with a clean tone on your amplifier to get a similar sound to the record.
16. Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones)
A different classic act now – The Rolling Stones! This song has bits of lead guitar all the way through, weaving between the vocal lines and harmonies. The intro starts off mellow and the song builds up to a full-on, exciting piece, with the multiple guitar tracks weaving in and out of each other constantly creating a thick carpet of sound. Listen carefully to how the instruments all work together, with the male and female vocals complimenting each other nicely. Yes, this lesson is about solos, but while you’re learning them you may as well learn from the whole song rather than just the lead guitar! After all, if it wasn’t for the song there’d be nowhere to put the solo – so make sure that you as a guitarist compliment other musicians rather than play over them (this is a very common beginner problem with all instruments, so don’t worry if this is you – it happens to everyone! Just remain aware of other players and you’ll soon pick it up).
17. Live Forever (Oasis)
Oasis are one of the biggest bands of all time, so this solo is your chance to steal some of their unique style and get an insight into their music. Listen to how the chords change with the solo, making it sound like an important part of the song rather than something that’s just bolted on without much thought. It’s nice and melodic and suits the song very well, and like a lot of the songs on this list it shows that you don’t have to shred to play something that sounds good (although shredding is still fun!).
18. Holiday (Green Day)
This is a famous punk/alternative rock song by giants Green Day. The solo is nice and simple, and is probably one of the easiest in this list so you can learn it even if you haven’t done any lead guitar before. The song is composed well too, with lots of dynamic changes and instruments dropping out and then coming back in again for extra emphasis. Pay particular attention to how the song suddenly drops down after the solo before then building back up – it’s a simple technique that makes the solo stand out and makes the song sound much more interesting.
19. Seven Nation Army (White Stripes)
This is the very first riff I ever learned on the guitar! If you can play the guitar riff (which I’m sure you can learn if you don’t already know it) then the solo shouldn’t be too much trouble because in some ways it’s even simpler. To get the tone, make sure to use distortion because a clean tone won’t do with this solo. This is a really fun song to jam along to because its simplicity means you can really get into it. The pretty wild feel of the solo means that it doesn’t even matter if your bends aren’t perfectly in tune with this one – so no need to worry about that. Just have fun with it!
20. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Guns n’ Roses)
This is the Guns n’ Roses version of the classic Bob Dylan song. It’s a nice cover that changes the feel of the song into something much more rocky, but still with plenty of feeling and meaning. It’s got two great solos by Slash; both of them should be within reach with a bit of practice so stick with it and before you know it you’ll be playing Guns n’ Roses solos! The vocals in this song are also worth mentioning because of how much variation there is in them – Axl gets a real chance to shine in this song, and the guitar and vocals match each other nicely by complimenting each other’s melodies, especially when Axl is adding bits of vocal underneath the lead guitar.
21. Don’t Stop Me Now (Queen)
And now for one that everyone knows! It’s a real feel-good song with the vocals, piano, drums, bass and guitar all working together to form a great piece of music. The solo is typical of Brian May – very melodic and following the background chords nicely. There is one lick just after the vocals come back in that might be a little bit difficult for a beginner, but most of the solo is nice and easy. The hard part is getting the guitar tone right! Brian May built his own guitar that’s now become an iconic part of his image and sound, but you can still get a somewhat similar tone by cranking up the gain on your amp. Play around with your settings until you find a tone that fits!
22. Fix You (Coldplay)
Less a full solo and more just another part of the song, this solo blends in very well with the rest of the piece. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth learning though because playing solos like this will become really useful when you come to compose your own songs – it shows how variety can be achieved by using different instruments in different ways, and doing something more subtle than an all-out rock guitar shred fest.
23. Joker and the Thief (Wolfmother)
A great rock song by Wolfmother, a band I’ve only recently discovered but one that are well worth checking out if you like rock music. The solo is nice and easy and shouldn’t give you any trouble, but if it does remember to stay relaxed and play it slowly and soon you’ll have it down. I’d actually say that the intro riff is harder than the solo! Then again, even that isn’t too difficult if you’re decent at hammer ons. Listen to the guitar sound at the beginning – it’s got an effect on it called a phaser which creates that swirling effect. If you have built in effects in your amplifier then phaser may be one of them, so have a look and see because if you’ve got one then you’ll be able to get the intro to sound like the record!
24. We’re Not Gonna Take It (Twisted Sister)
And now for some all-out over-the-top 80’s hard rock! If you can get past the ridiculous hair styles and costumes (Twisted Sister are probably some of the most ridiculous of all time!) then you’ll appreciate that this is actually quite a good song. It’s not as famous as “I Wanna Rock” (the groups biggest hit), but nevertheless a good song with a good solo that’s definitely worth learning. It follows the vocal line very closely but adds in some extra sounds with the use of the whammy bar. If your guitar doesn’t have a whammy bar you can still play the solo fine, but you won’t get the same sound as the record because some of the phrasing elements won’t be there.
25. Animal (Def Leppard)
Def Leppard are one of rock music’s most iconic acts. The guitar solos are in Def Leppard songs are usually good ones to learn because they sound more difficult than they are – making you seem like a better player! The melodies are nice too, and although it is a bit cheesy (it is 1980’s stuff, after all) it’s still a good song. Use lots of distortion and if you have a delay (echo) effect, use that too. Reverb can also be a nice help to get the tone on the record, as is the case with most 80’s guitar solos.
26. Highway to Hell (AC/DC)
Some real classic rock now! This is from the Bon Scott era of AC/DC, and it’s got a nice easy (but great sounding) solo. It’s got one of the most iconic riffs of all time, so don’t just learn the solo and leave it at that – see if you can learn the whole song! Blast this one LOUD and play along to it – it’s great fun! There aren’t any parts of the solo that are particularly difficult so you should be able to learn it pretty quickly. It’s full of classic blues licks that everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan to (of course) Angus Young uses, so try making up some of your own solos from the phrases in here.
27. American Idiot (Green Day)
Next I’ve got another Green Day song for you. This is probably their most famous song and the solo is so simple any guitarist should be able to play it! It uses fingerings that allow the same note to be played in two different octaves at the same time which leads to some nice sounds – a simple concept used well.
28. We Will Rock You (Queen)
Possibly the most famous song ever written (aside from maybe Happy Birthday…), this is a must-learn for any rock fan. The guitar doesn’t actually come in until near the very end of this song, but it’s worthwhile learning anyway because the absence of guitar in the previous parts of the song makes it have a huge impact when it finally does come in. Listen to how the feedback slowly fades in before Brian May opens up with a few chords and then goes into the solo. This one repeats itself quite a lot so if you’re looking for something that’s quick to learn, this is the solo for you – just make sure to listen closely for the rhythm of the notes because it’s crucial. The fame of this song makes it very impressive to anyone you show it to – people love it when you play songs they know!
29. For The Love of God (Steve Vai)
Yes, I know what you’re thinking – “this isn’t beginner level! Steve Vai is a shredder!” And yes, that’s right, but it doesn’t mean you can’t learn the main melody to this song. After all, the melody takes up a large part of the song, so by learning that you’ll still be able to get something epic under your fingers without too much effort. The key here is phrasing – those bends have to be perfect, and the vibrato is absolutely key to making this sound really good.
If you’re a beginner (and I don’t mean complete beginner – I mean you’ve got basic experience of a few months and you’re starting to get into lead guitar) you shouldn’t have too much trouble playing this one up to around the 1.20 mark in the video. Listen to the full song for inspiration for the future – and to find out what a man and a guitar can really do! Steve Vai is a real virtuoso, so it’s great that you can learn some simpler melodies of his like this one. It’s his most famous song, too!
30. Take it Easy (The Eagles)
This is a country rock tune with a really catchy melody and some great guitar work. The Eagles are famous for their vocal harmonies – the sound of three or even four voices at a time really adds to the music and is a key part of the band’s sound.
But what about the guitar work? Well, peppered between the vocal lines are beautiful licks that complement the music and add to the overall song. The solo is a little more difficult than some of the others on the list but it’s still easy to learn. It has some classic country licks in there - try using them to create your own solos!
31. Snowblind (Black Sabbath)
Now one from the group who created heavy metal – Black Sabbath! This song features a great, brooding riff and eerie vocals that hundreds of metal bands have been influenced by, making it a superb song and solo to learn if you’re into your heavy music. Tony Iommi’s lead guitar style is very melodic and bluesy, which gives a nice contrast to the heaviness of the rest of the song.
Black Sabbath were originally a blues band, so it’s easy to see where Iommi’s style developed from – learn this solo and you’ll be able to see how he gets his signature sound. The outro solo on this song might be out of reach of your abilities at the moment, but the main solo in the middle of the song shouldn’t be a problem if you’re a reasonably competent beginner guitar player. Then once you’ve mastered that you’ll have a great foundation on which to build for learning the outro solo!
32. Apache (The Shadows)
A classic tune from The Shadows featuring legend Hank Marvin on guitar, this is a must-learn. It’s got the advantage that the whole song focuses on the guitar and there’s no vocals, so you can play the full song without having to sing or find someone else to sing.
Everyone recognises the signature melody and rhythm of this piece, so it is a good song to use to show people your skills. Hank Marvin was the first man in England to ever receive a Fender Stratocaster, and his influence on the guitar world is gigantic – almost every player has been influenced in some way (either directly or indirectly) by Hank. It might sound a bit old fashioned now, but have fun with it and you’ll see why this song is still as famous as it was in the 1960’s!
33. Kon Tiki (The Shadows)
This is another song from The Shadows that has a very “surf-guitar” feel to it. The melodies are nice and simple so it is pretty easy to learn. To get a tone similar to the actual song, use a clean sound with a nice delay (echo) effect on it. If you can, try to use a guitar with “single coil” pickups in it like a Fender Stratocaster.
Pay attention to the strumming in the bridge of this song – it is a slower movement that gives the chords a different sound.
34. FBI (The Shadows)
And now a third one from Hank Marvin’s band. Listen to the rhythms behind the lead guitar in this one and how they complement the lead. Again, using a delay effect can help you to get the right tone. Another thing to notice is how the song starts fairly low down on the neck and then by around 1.15 it moves higher up to play higher-sounding notes. This is a nice way to get some variety in the piece and make it sound more interesting. It then moves back down for the remainder of the song, returning to where it came from.
35. The Savage (The Shadows)
There are a lot of songs by The Shadows in this list because the songs are often short (meaning there’s less to learn to master the whole song), fun and easy to learn. Have a go at this one and you’ll be able to hear how much more tense it and rocky it sounds compared to the previous ones. Some of the licks are a little more difficult than before so if you’re new to lead guitar I’d recommend having a go at “Apache”, “FBI” or “Kon Tiki” first. This will give you a nice introduction to the guitar style of the group so you’ll be better prepared when you come to play this song.
36. Wonderful Land (The Shadows)
This is the last solo before we move on to the harder ones, and it’s the fifth one in this list by The Shadows. Listen to how the lead guitar melody is echoed by the other instruments in the background – it’s almost as if the instruments are “replying” to each other. This one requires lots of delay and reverb to get the right tone but even if you don’t have any effects, you can still get a similar sound to the song by following the tab closely and focusing on phrasing (how you play the notes).
37. Johnny B Goode (Chuck Berry)
And now we move on to the more difficult solos – this is where it gets really fun! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that these are hard; they’re still easy, just a little bit more challenging than the others. If you’ve learned a few of the solos above then there’s no reason you can’t learn some of these!
Johnny B Goode is one of the most famous guitar solos ever, and if you learn it you’ll always have a song ready to impress people with. It’s full of licks that have now become standard vocabulary in blues and rock guitar. Everyone should learn this song!
38. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love (Van Halen)
Van Halen are one of the biggest rock groups of all time, and this is one of the few songs of theirs that features an easy solo. It’s got a slightly faster lick towards the end of the solo, but nothing that you can’t handle if you’ve learned some of the easier examples in this guide.
The riff for this song is a must-learn too – it’s a great one! To get the right sound you’ll need lots of distortion and a phaser pedal to create the “swirling” effect.
39. All Over Now (The Rolling Stones)
From one of the original rock groups (who are still going strong!) from the UK, this solo is heavily blues based and isn’t too difficult to get under your fingers. Notice how it repeats itself a lot to develop a theme.
40. Paranoid (Black Sabbath)
With one of the most iconic song intros of all time, this song is a must-learn for any rock guitar player! The solo suits the song well, and the drums and bass behind it really help to drive the song forward.
The bits to watch out for are the bends and the fast pull-offs and hammer-ons. Make sure to practice the faster bits very slowly at first to ensure you don’t develop too much tension in your hands – this can lead to injury, so stay relaxed at all times!
41. Livin’ on a Prayer (Bon Jovi)
This song is one of the most famous songs to come out of the 1980’s. The guitar riff features a “talk box” guitar effect that makes it sound almost like a vocal line – this is what makes it sound so unique. If you haven’t got a talk box (which most guitarists haven’t) then you can get a similar sound by using a wah pedal on the riff.
As far as the solo is concerned, make sure to use plenty of distortion and, if you have them, delay and reverb too. The solo is very melodic and it’s a great one to learn if you’re into metal and hard rock; it’s typical of heavy 80’s music. This is a superb example of how you don’t need to shred to be a great rock guitar player and play awesome solos!
There is one fast legato line at the end of the solo, but if you’re finding it difficult you can omit that – you’ll still get the overall feel of the piece.
42. You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC)
Another great riff and solo from Angus Young here! Watch out for the bends to make sure they’re in tune. To get a sound similar to the one on this song you’ll want to use a bit of overdrive, but not too much; many players make the mistake of using too much distortion for ACDC songs when really the sound is almost clean.
An extra thing to look out for is the picking in this solo – Angus’ picking constantly varies from note to note, some harder, some lighter, to create variety and interest. Listen to how some notes are cut off straight away (particularly at the beginning of the solo) and others (towards the end, as the solo builds up) are held for much longer.
43. Nothing Else Matters (Metallica)
This is one of the few Metallica songs featuring James Hetfield playing a solo rather than Kirk Hammett. The solo is really melodic and complements the rest of the song’s mood well – it adds to the build-up of the song before everything drops down again afterwards for the final section of the song.
This song is from Metallica’s famous “Black Album” that created mainstream success for the band. With over 37 million listens on YouTube alone, it’s a great one to learn even if Metallica aren’t usually your thing.
44. November Rain (Guns n’ Roses)
The ending solo is probably out of reach for a beginner, but the middle solos at around 4.10 and 5.20 should be easy enough for you to get your fingers around. The first solo features lots of repeated melodies and themes that make it flow and give it a “story”. The bends and vibrato are key here – getting them clean is a key part of the “Slash” sound. There are some slightly faster legato passages in the second half of the first solo, but if you remember to practice them slowly and cleanly then they shouldn’t give you any grief.
The second solo is similar but played much higher on the neck – notice how the melodies sound similar and some of them are almost the same. Have some fun with this one – it’s a great song!
45. Icarus Dream Suite Opus 4 Intro (Yngwie Malmsteen)
Yes, even if you’re a beginner you can still learn some Yngwie! He might be famous as one of the fastest guitarists ever, but his slow melodies are also excellent.
The intro to this song features some awesome classically-influenced guitar work over a bed of keyboard chords. There are some very fast fills in this part, but by omitting them (the solo still sounds great) you can learn the solo and play the section without too much difficulty. The fills are very advanced, but don’t let that stop you – just play the piece without them and you can still get an awesome sound!
46. Shakin’ All Over (Johnny Kidd and the Pirates)
A classic riff and solo now by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. This one is full of great blues licks that you can use to create your own solos. It’s definitely worth learning the whole song so that you can get a feel for how the solo fits into the whole song.
The drum fill before the solo starts helps to make it sound more intense and breaks up the song in a nice way.
47. Killer Queen (Queen)
In typical Brian May fashion, this solo follows the chords of the song very closely. It’s very melodic and, as with many of the solos on this list, it suits the feel of the song well. Noticing a theme here? All of the simple solo’s we’ve covered sound great because they suit the songs well. This is because the slower passages tend to be more melodic and sound almost similar to vocal lines, making them great for creating new sounds in sections of the song. Sure, playing fast is fun, but never forget the importance of a good melody!