You know for the bad rap we get, us guitarists are pretty patient. We’ll put up with drummers showing up two hours late—for practice, and for a fill. We’ll stoically suffer the two kinds of bass players, the ones who want to make everything sound like the Seinfeld theme, and the ones who don’t know what an E string is. And the lead singers, oh man, the endless parade of lead singers in those dopey outfits, all of them thinking that their latest heartfelt tribute to some mud wrestler/sports car/Nordic god is more than half a dozen non-sequiturs that don’t really rhyme very well. We’ll put up with it all, and we’ll haul a 4x12 cab along with us while we do. Why? Because we get to solo—that deranged, delightful 10 seconds to 10 minutes where we can wail away, band be damned. Somehow it makes it all worth it.

Here is a tribute to the glory of the guitar solo. Not just riffing, but true soloing— instrumental flights of musical mayhem or melodic mathematics that take a song to a whole ’nother level. Here are a few that once again prove that guitars make everything better.

Which ones did we miss? Let us know: editor@gibson.com

1. The Doors—"Light My Fire" (Robby Krieger) It's a little known fact that Robby Krieger actually wrote this song (on the album it was simply credited to the Doors), so he has every right to take that extended solo on his Gibson SG at 3:19, when most pop songs in 1967 were winding down. Coming after Ray Manzarek's carnival-like organ solo, at the time it was the only thing that set the Doors apart from the Monkees. To this day, only wussies prefer the radio version, which mercilessly snipped Krieger's finest work.

Watch it here.

2. Steely Dan—"Reelin' in the Years" (Elliot Randall) Known for their cool efficiency in the studio, Steely Dan weren't the kind of band you would normally associate with full-on rocking out. But halfway through this song guitarist Elliot Randall suddenly makes like he's auditioning for Yes with an incredibly intricate and fast-paced run. Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has gone on record saying Randall's solo on "Reelin' in the Years" is his favorite guitar solo ever.

Watch it here.

3. Neil Young—"Southern Man" (Neil Young) We could devote this entire list to Neil, the master of taking a two-minute pop jingle and stretching it out to a 15-minute epic with some incredibly meditative guitar work via Ol’ Black, his black-painted 1953 Goldtop Les Paul. Here, he only makes it to the five-minute mark but leaves you totally breathless by the end.

Watch it here.
 
4. Lynyrd Skynyrd—"Freebird" (Gary Rossington and Allen Collins) When you've got a 1961 Gibson Les Paul/SG Standard with side-pull vibrato, it's your duty to put it to good use. And that's what guitarist Gary Rossington did on the standout track from Lynyrd Skynyrd's 1974 debut album, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd. Not only is it a sweetly melodic solo but features some amazing improvised slide work thanks to a screwdriver and glass Coricidin bottle. No wonder everyone asks for it at every concert ... ever.

Watch it here

5. Michael Jackson—"Beat It" (Eddie Van Halen) Michael Jackson was already destined to sell a kajillion copies of his 1983 album, Thriller, thanks to its first two heavily-synthesized singles, "The Girl Is Mine" (a duet with Paul McCartney) and "Billie Jean." But then Eddie Van Halen dropped by the studio with his homemade frankenrat featuring a PAF from a Gibson ES-335 (wanna nail that tone? Check out a Gibson Burstbucker 3) and in just two takes nailed one of the most famous guitar solos ever, taking Jacko out of the dentist's offices and elevators and into the high school parking lots of the world. Plus, is there really a better soundtrack to a break-dancing knife fight?

Watch it here

6. Queen—"Bohemian Rhapsody" (Brian May) What more could you possibly add to a song that touches on opera, show tunes and classical balladry? How about a mega guitar solo that sounds like the entire history of popular music condensed into just a few bars.

Watch it here:

7. The Eagles—"Hotel California" (Don Felder and Joe Walsh) With the exception of “Stairway to Heaven,” Don Felder's guitar solo on this song is pretty much why the Gibson Double Neck was invented.

Watch it here

8. Guns N' Roses—"November Rain" (Slash) Never mind that the song holds the record for the longest guitar solo in a U.S. Top-10 hit—without all of Slash's hard work you would pretty much be listening to an Elton John tune.

Watch it here.