Even though the best acoustic guitar solos appear in some of the most famous songs of all time, when we think of solos on the guitar, it’s usually players like Slash or Steve Vai that spring to mind, playing with screaming distortion while bending and tapping their way through the solo.
However, the very nature of an acoustic guitar with its higher action and increased difficulty when performing bends pulls the player away from speed and into thinking more about note choice.
We wanted to showcase how good acoustic guitar solos can be, so we’ve gathered up 50 of our favorites that you can learn yourself with the provided tablature and video lessons.
- About a Girl by Nirvana
- And I Love Her by The Beatles
- Don’t Speak by No Doubt
- Father and Son by Cat Stevens
- Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
- Holiday by Scorpions
- Hollow Years by Dream Theater
- I’ve Just Seen a Face by The Beatles
- If You Leave Me Now by Chicago
- Innuendo by Queen
- Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
- Layla (unplugged) by Eric Clapton
- Live Forever (acoustic) by Oasis
- Look Out for My Love (Unplugged) by Neil Young
- Michelle by The Beatles
- Patience by Guns N’ Roses
- Redemption Song by Bob Marley
- Society by Eddie Vedder
- Soldier of Fortune by Deep Purple
- Someday by Flipsyde
- Stranger Things Have Happened by Foo Fighters
- Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton
- The Bard’s Song by Blind Guardian
- The Man Who Sold the World by Nirvana
- To Be With You by Mr. Big
- Two Steps Behind by Def Leppard
- Uncle John’s Band by Grateful Dead
- Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi
- Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
- Year of the Cat by Al Stewart
- In the Middle of a Heartbeat by Helloween
- Ocean by John Butler
- Landslide by The Smashing Pumpkins
- Hotel California (Acoustic Version) by The Eagles
- Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman? by Bryan Adams
- Forever by Kiss
- Edison’s Medicines (Acoustic) by Tesla
- Dust in a Baggie by Billy Strings
- I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow by Dan Tyminski & Ron Block
- Love Is on the Way by Saigon Kick
- White Freightliner Blues by Molly Tuttle
- Neon by John Mayer
- Pride and Joy (Acoustic) by Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Tears Don’t Fall (acoustic) by Bullet for My Valentine
- Classical Gas by Tommy Emmanuel
- Last Thing on My Mind by Tony Rice
- Fade to Black by Metallica
- Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
- Wonderboy by Tenacious D
- Over the Hills and Far Away by Led Zeppelin
- Final Thoughts on the Best Acoustic Guitar Solos
About a Girl by Nirvana
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Kurt Cobain isn’t who you’d immediately think of when it comes to acoustic guitar solos. But in fact, the acoustic solo in About a Girl is one of the best. Putting a huge emphasis on just serving the song with careful note choice, it’s right at the top of the list as one of the greats. This is the third single from their first album Bleach, but there’s also a famous acoustic version that was released as part of MTV Unplugged.
The solo to this is very easy to play, using mostly single-note lines that climb up the neck, which is topped off with a nice little harmonizing note above it. It can be played almost exclusively with downpicking, making it ideal if you’re new to acoustic guitar solos.
And I Love Her by The Beatles
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Next, we’re going back to the ’60s with the popular Beatles album A Hard Day’s Night. Written between Paul McCartney and John Lennon, it’s a great love ballad that features the acoustic guitar prominently. And as you might expect from The Beatles, it ranked highly in both the US and UK charts. It’s also been covered by a number of notable artists including Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain.
The solo section of this song passes through the classic 4-chord progression of Gm, Dm, Bb, and C7 primarily outlining them using single notes. The ascending passage is also topped off with a nice slide which is then sustained, giving a really moody vibe to the section. It’s very slow and shouldn’t pose any technical challenge. In fact, you can downpick the entire thing should you wish.
Don’t Speak by No Doubt
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Many know Gwen Stefani for her thriving career as a solo pop artist, but those present during the ’90s know that No Doubt were one of the biggest alternative rock bands around. Although Don’t Speak didn’t chart on the US Billboard, it did receive a lot of acclaim from fans. It’s even been used in popular music video games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
Although much of the song uses a combination of electric and acoustic guitar, for the solo we’re focussing on the acoustic guitar exclusively. There is a tiny bit of flamenco influence here where you’ll be using a technique called sweeping to play an ascending arpeggio with some speed, along with some quick hammer-on and pull-off inflections which add a lot of spice to the solo.
Father and Son by Cat Stevens
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A wonderful song that details the exchange between a father and son, with the son wanting to move on and pursue his own path in life while the father struggles to understand or comprehend his son’s desires. It’s a deeply contemplative song with somewhat of a laid-back, folk-rock kind of feel. Interestingly he will adjust the timbre of his voice to depict whether the father or son is speaking.
At 70bpm it’s an extremely slow song that fits its contemplative nature. So this makes our job as guitarists very easy, as everything is so slow you get a lot of time to prepare for each note of the solo. The main thing here is to try to match the dynamics (or strength) of each hit to those of the original song.
Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
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This is technically played using an electric guitar on a clean tone. However, its fingerpicked style combined with the fact that 9/10 times you see it played, it’s on an acoustic pretty much makes it an acoustic song. Although originally written by Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley’s rendition is a favorite among fans and did very well commercially, selling over 1 million copies in the 3 years following its release.
The majority of the song uses a fairly involved fingerpicking style, whereas the solo is actually one of the easier parts, using small descending 3-note per string arpeggios that are left to ring out. The song is essentially played like it’s on a steel string, so you can play it exactly like the original.
Holiday by Scorpions
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It’s great that we can include a heavy metal band on a list of acoustic guitar solos. This was the eighth track from their album Lovedrive released in 1979 and is one of their most popular songs, routinely making its way into their live performances. There is also a dedicated acoustic version released as part of their 2001 album Acoustica.
This whole song uses a lot of arpeggios, where you’ll be descending by 3 notes on the top strings while the lower bass note moves around a bit. The measures don’t always add up to 4/4 too, so it’s also going to test your rhythmic brain a little too (in a good way).
Hollow Years by Dream Theater
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While we commonly associate Dream Theater with ripping guitar solos and heavy, distorted tones and possibly the greatest beard in music, the progressive titans aren’t against slowing things down with a softer ballad that even has a tasteful acoustic solo to boot. It’s a refreshing change and one that Dream Theater fans have grown to love so much that the band will often include it in their live performances.
While the song contains a good mixture of electric and acoustic parts, it’s very possible to play the entire thing on just the acoustic guitar if you don’t want to swap anything midway through. The whole song, solo included, is all in standard tuning and at a nice and slow 77bpm. So it’s something anyone can try their hand at learning.
I’ve Just Seen a Face by The Beatles
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Another song from the British pop/folk/rock legends The Beatles, this is an upbeat and cheerful love song about the rush of excitement you get when you experience a ‘love at first sight’ moment. It uses an eclectic style and is very hard to pinpoint down to a specific genre, so it’s easier to just describe the style as The Beatles. It’s taken from their 1965 album I’ve Just Seen a Face.
The song uses some fairly fast ‘outside picking’ during the intro before proceeding into what’s clearly a country-inspired strumming pattern. The whole song is in standard tuning and is a great one to learn if you need to work on your right hand’s rhythm skill a little more.
If You Leave Me Now by Chicago
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Next up is a classic, slow, soft rock song from the ’70s. This is a single from their extremely popular album China X, it hit the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and was able to stay there for two weeks. It also won a Grammy award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals. Needless to say, it’s one of their best and has a great solo acoustic section in the middle.
The solo or ‘lead’ acoustic guitar part of this song tends to happen in short bursts as opposed to being a constant solo, this can make it hard for a beginner to get the timing right. Try to pay close attention to the drums to really see when those parts come in.
Innuendo by Queen
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A truly epic song by Queen, with so many unique and different sounding sections, it’s one of their most progressive songs. It’s the first single from their album of the same name, which immediately shot to the number 1 spot on the UK singles chart. There’s also a quite famous flamenco-inspired guitar solo which was performed by Yes guitarist Steve Howe.
Obviously, this solo requires a reasonable amount of technique to be able to execute, but with a little practice even a beginner should be able to master it. The main challenge will come from the fairly speedy ascending scalar run, which is played using alternate picking exclusively.
Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
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Another one of the all-time greats from the ’70s. Songwriter Stevie Nicks has said that she wrote the song while struggling with indecision about whether she should go back to school or continue along her musical journey with Lindsey Buckingham. Fortunately, she chose the former and we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy these songs today.
The first thing to mention about the song is you will need a capo on the third fret of the guitar. And because of its finger-picking nature, there is no way around this. The solo will present a nice challenge too as you will also be maintaining the bassline with your thumb, while your fingers play the melody.
Layla (unplugged) by Eric Clapton
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While the original features heaps of distorted electric guitar goodness, today we’re taking a look at the Unplugged version which came out almost 20 years later. This was a part of MTV’s extremely famous and popular Unplugged series in which they invited many prominent musicians to perform solo acoustic renditions of their most notable songs.
Following all the main themes of the original, this acoustic version will feel kind of like you’re playing an electric guitar song on acoustic. It still uses the nice barred power chords and single-note lines without much demand for playing anything with your fingers. This is a great one to learn if you’re an electric player at heart and want to ease into the acoustic space.
Live Forever (acoustic) by Oasis
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Oasis hasn’t performed together in a long time, and much to the dismay of the millions of Oasis fans out there, probably never will again. Despite the tumultuous relationship between brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, they made world-class music together that will go down in history as some of the greatest British songs ever.
The original song has a more traditional guitar solo played on an electric guitar. But when the song has been converted to its acoustic version, rather than simply lift that part and transfer it to acoustic, Noel decided to take the solo spot and continue strumming the chord progression. It needs to be stated that solos do not just mean you go high up the fretboard and only play single notes. This is a very important lesson that every musician should keep in mind.
Look Out for My Love (Unplugged) by Neil Young
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Generally speaking, people don’t gravitate towards writing solos on the guitar. Lots of them are originally written on electric and then at some point, the band does a stripped-down or unplugged version in which the solo is transferred to the acoustic. This was certainly the case here as it was a part of Neil’s 1993 album simply titled Unplugged which was, once again part of MTV’s popular Unplugged series.
The solo section in this song appears twice and is just a single-note melody played with a few slides that ends on some low chords, which sync up with the big drum hits. This is a really unique way of handling a lead section and is a ton of fun to play.
Michelle by The Beatles
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Next, we have another fantastic acoustically-driven song from British pop legends The Beatles. This has a very complex arrangement and chord structure with a tremendous emphasis put on the instruments. This was confirmed by Paul McCartney when he said the instrumental side of the song came about completely separate from the lyrical side.
There are lots of small acoustic solos peppered throughout the arrangement and because of the steady groove of the song, they are not particularly challenging to play. But we do get to see some great use of the diminished scale which is seldom seen on acoustically driven songs. You’ll also need a capo on the 5th fret of the guitar.
Patience by Guns N’ Roses
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This is an extremely popular ballad from Guns N’ Roses that has a little bit of everything on offer: fingerpicking, strummed chords, and of course a classy and tasteful acoustic guitar solo. The song details the difficult relationship between singer Axl Rose and his (now ex-)wife Erin Everly. The official video for the song is currently at over 770 million views.
This is another acoustic solo that very obviously takes an electric kind of stance, using bends and slides in the way one might associate with the signature Guns N’ Roses style of electric guitar solo. There are also tiny lead sections or ‘mini’ solos interspersed throughout the song, which makes it a ton of fun to play along with.
Redemption Song by Bob Marley
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This song contained very little of that signature reggae influence we usually associate with Bob’s style and sound. This was largely due to his recent cancer diagnosis, which adds tremendous weight to the song. There’s also no accompanying instruments, this is just a completely solo acoustic piece.
The majority of this song uses just regular strummed chords with a few rhythmic percussive mutes thrown in. But at the start of the song, there is a small solo which, while simple sounding at first, does use some subtle quick hammer-ons which add that little bit of spice and intrigue to it. Overall it’s super easy to play and is ideal for beginners.
Society by Eddie Vedder
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While this isn’t technically part of a traditional album, it’s actually a collection of songs written by Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder which were composed for the movie Into the Wild. Both the movie and the soundtrack were incredibly well received, with Eddie receiving a Golden Globe nomination for his compositions in 2008.
The solo is nice and slow. It has a good bit of ambiance on the original recording, so if you have the opportunity to use any delay or reverb this would be a great chance to do so. The main thing to look out for here is between some of the main notes, he also will pick lightly creating what you might call ‘ghost notes’. These add a lot to the dimension of the solo.
Soldier of Fortune by Deep Purple
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This is a song that’s appeared on a number of live albums and compilation releases since its first outing as part of their 1974 album Stormbringer. While the song didn’t make the biggest impact at first, it has been described as having a cult following. It’s also been covered by some tremendously notable artists including Whitesnake and the fantastic Swedish metal band Opeth.
The song opens with an acoustic solo that starts off quite simple, but after the first passage uses some slightly faster runs. The ascending arpeggio might sound like a sweep at first but you can actually just use your thumb and three fingers to pluck each note and give the impression of a swept run.
Someday by Flipsyde
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It’s awesome to see an acoustic guitar solo being used outside of a slow, ballad-style context. This is a rap/hip hop song from the Californian band Flipsyde from the 2005 album We the People. The song garnered much of its popularity due to its use at the 2006 Winter Olympics and then again two years later in the popular movie Never Back Down.
At first, this might be seen as a slightly out-of-context solo. But it does actually suit the vibe of the song exceptionally well. Not only that, it’s quite a technical solo and you’ll need to work on your finger dexterity to really nail some of those faster runs.
Stranger Things Have Happened by Foo Fighters
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This is a track from Foo Fighter’s sixth studio album titled Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. Unlike their other albums which lean more toward alternative rock/grunge, this album is particularly well known for containing both acoustic and rock tracks. People generally took well to the variety in the songwriting and it was seen as a refreshing take on their sound.
The song has a nice slow pace and, as is often the case when people who are primarily electric guitarists, the acoustic solo very much sounds like it was written for electric. There are no odd fingerpicking or flamenco-style techniques required here. As long as you can play some basic single notes you’re good to go!
Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton
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This is a deeply touching and emotional song that Eric wrote about the death of his four-year-old son. It was released a couple of times, first as part of the 1991 movie soundtrack Rush, then later as an acoustic version for MTV’s Unplugged series. It’s his best-selling single to date, winning an incredible three Grammy Awards.
This song contains a couple of different acoustic guitar layers, so you can pick and choose what to play. There’s a fairly simple fingerpicked chord progression that outlines the main rhythm of the song. In addition, there are numerous small lead lines, and of course the main solo layered over the top.
The Bard’s Song by Blind Guardian
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This is an incredible folk ballad from the legendary German power metal band Blind Guardian, who are well known for their fantasy and Lord of the Rings-inspired aesthetic. The song depicts the scenario in which a bard will play to a group of adventurers before they head out on their next quest. It’s a fan favorite and has become a staple of their live performances.
It’s actually played by twin acoustic guitars, where one is playing a finger-picked rhythm which also includes the bass notes, while the other guitar plays the lead section higher up on the fretboard. At 165 bpm, it’s played at a decent pace, making the lead part the easier of the two to play along with.
The Man Who Sold the World by Nirvana
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This is a cover Nirvana played during their MTV Unplugged performance. The original was written by legendary British singer David Bowie, who singer Kurt Cobain said is one of his favorite artists of all time. It brought a lot of attention to the song and following that original Unplugged performance, Nirvana would go on to use it as a regular part of their set.
Now you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking this song has an electric guitar solo in it, but in typical Nirvana grunge fashion, it’s actually an acoustic guitar with a magnetic pickup installed in it. That acoustic guitar is then run through various distortion or fuzz effects to get that grimy style of distortion.
To Be With You by Mr. Big
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Mr. Big were one of the greatest rock bands of the ’80s, who for some reason became absolutely huge in Japan. Far more so than in their home country of America. No one is quite sure why this is and it has become somewhat of a phenomenon. Nevertheless, in typical Mr. Big fashion, we have catchy vocals, great guitar work, and classic songwriting that’ll leave you wanting more of that ’80s arena rock sound.
Guitarist Paul Gilbert is well known in the guitar space for both his lightning-fast and precise technique, but also his impeccable note choice. For this song, he has put down the electric and donned an acoustic guitar, which he plays just like an electric. You can tell he is picking with his fingers extremely hard here and you should try to do the same when jamming this song yourself.
Two Steps Behind by Def Leppard
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This is a popular acoustic rock song from the British rock champions Def Leppard, taken from their album Retro Active. The song was also famously used as the main song for the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Last Action Hero. It received awards for both Song of the Year and Best Song from a Movie Soundtrack in the year of its release.
It has a good blend of lead acoustic guitar parts and strummed rhythms, so you are free to just hop between them as you see fit. There’s nothing particularly challenging from a technical point of view, but there are some cool slides and chordal motifs worked in together.
Uncle John’s Band by Grateful Dead
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The Grateful Dead began to work this song into their live performances a year before it was released in 1970. It’s a super catchy track and, despite somewhat average reviews, the song was loved by fans and has stuck around to become one of their most important singles due to its accessibility. It allowed them to break through to a new, more mainstream audience, which was pivotal for their career.
The leads in this song all have an upbeat tonality to them, there’s not too much going on technically either. They are mostly just single-note passages that you can play with simple alternate or down picking.
Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi
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This is an iconic and signature song from the legendary Slippery When Wet album by Bon Jovi. It was written as an homage to the stereotypical Old West cowboy heroes. He’s said it was heavily influenced by Bob Seger’s song Turn the Page (which Bon Jovi has also performed live).
You’ll get to use some cool techniques here, including some natural harmonics and sliding chord shapes. There are also some cool bluesy-sounding quarter note bends that are played on the lower strings. Sometimes bending on an acoustic can be a bit challenging, but it’ll feel much more comfortable on the lower strings .
Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
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Next, we have a song from the progressive rock legends Pink Floyd. This was the lead single from their ninth studio album of the same name. This is a more mellow song that uses a mixture of 12-string and 6-string acoustic guitars. It was quite popular and received a fair bit of radio play.
Obviously, the opening of the song is played on a 12-string guitar, but not to worry if you don’t have one on hand. You can also play it using just a regular 6-string guitar in standard tuning. There are also some pretty hefty bends in here, so this will definitely get you accustomed to more lead-acoustic guitar playing.
Year of the Cat by Al Stewart
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This is a story-driven song about a nameless protagonist who meets an exotic woman in a foreign market and then whisks him away on a romantic adventure. Upon waking the following day, he finds his tour bus has already departed without him. An interesting concept overlaid onto an eclectic song that has both acoustic and electric guitar solos in.
In terms of technicality, the electric solo is quite a bit more challenging to play than the acoustic, while the acoustic solo simply requires some single-picked notes and a few slides. There’s also a very quick hammer on embellishment that some people might refer to as a flutter.
In the Middle of a Heartbeat by Helloween
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Bringing another classic German power metal band to the list with Helloween, taken from their sixth studio album Master of the Rings which was the first album to feature two new band members, Andi Deris and Uli Kusch. It charted reasonably well all over the world, but it was particularly popular in Japan where it was able to reach the number 6 spot.
This is another scenario where you will get to play the acoustic guitar much like an electric. As can be heard from the prominence of the pick attack, they are using a guitar pick and picking mostly single-note melodies, which are then complemented by big 4-5 string chords during the chorus.
Ocean by John Butler
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The John Butler Trio are a 3-man rock group from Perth, WA. They were able to achieve a good amount of success within Australia, with their second album both hitting the Australian charts and even being certified platinum. But this song in particular pre-dates that and was the 5th track of their self-titled debut album released in 1998.
This is an eclectic solo performance that will have you tapping all over the guitar to emulate the percussion section of a band. You’ll also be tapping a lot on the open notes of the guitar to create what is called ‘natural harmonics’. There’s also a capo placed on the fourth fret of the guitar.
Landslide by The Smashing Pumpkins
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The Smashing Pumpkins covered this song, originally written by Fleetwood Mac, in 1994 as part of their Pisces Iscariot album. Even though it was just a b-side track, it did very well commercially, making it into the top three of the Modern Rock Charts and appearing on the soundtrack to the popular TV show Alias.
The first thing to notice is its exceptionally rich tone, as it’s been recorded very well. Although the notes you play are slow and measured, making sure they’re clear and get the room to resonate is very important here. There’s also the very nice sounding ‘pre-bend’ technique used.
Hotel California (Acoustic Version) by The Eagles
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A classic single from their album of the same name, this is a quintessential Eagles song and is probably one of their best-known recordings. The album itself won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1978. The Eagles have said the song is discussing a person’s journey from innocence to experience. In addition to the main studio version, there was also an acoustic version released to equal acclaim.
The main solo for this acoustic version uses a classical guitar ,where the player has let his thumbnail grow out and uses it in place of a pick. You don’t need to do this yourself, feel free to just use a pick to get that same level of attack out of the note.
Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman? by Bryan Adams
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This song was originally created to be a part of the soundtrack to the 1995 movie Don Juan DeMarco. The main melody of the song is used numerous times throughout the movie as its signature motif. It also features an incredible flamenco-inspired acoustic guitar solo from Paco de Lucia and was even nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.
As we mentioned, there’s a ton of flamenco influence here. You’ll hear a little bit of the harmonic minor scale, along with some hammer-on and pull-off embellishments. It’s a real treat if you’re looking for something a little more than just single-note melodies.
Forever by Kiss
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A slightly more modern power ballad from the legendary hard/glam rock band, Kiss. This was written by vocalist Paul Stanley and Michael Bolton and after its release received a tremendous amount of airplay on popular music media outlets, including MTV. It even made it to the number 8 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart during its year of release.
This is yet another example of an electric guitar-playing style that’s been placed onto acoustic. There’s a little bit of sliding and hammer-ons/pull-offs in there but by and large, it’s mostly single notes played with alternate picking. Adding a little extra spice to it are a few natural harmonics thrown in at key spots.
Edison’s Medicines (Acoustic) by Tesla
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Another glam metal song that, while not quite at the same level of popularity as Kiss, is a force in its own right. From Tesla’s third studio album Psychotic Supper, the track details the rivalry between American inventors Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. In addition, there’s also an acoustic-driven version which they would regularly perform live.
The acoustic version of the song outlines somewhat of a bluesy/minor pentatonic version of the song, where the leads will mostly be played how you might play an electric guitar. He likes to pick this quite hard, so be sure to be conscious of the dynamics as you play.
Dust in a Baggie by Billy Strings
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Billy Strings is a prolific bluegrass musician from Michigan, America. He’s well known for showing incredible technical virtuosity on the guitar and is a world-class songwriter to boot. Dust In A Baggie was his first single from the 2017 digital album Turmoil and Tinfoil and immediately started to turn heads, with the single reaching the number 3 spots on the US grass hits chart.
For all the technical ability Billy Strings has, his guitar parts for this song are comparatively simple. Outside of the solo just requires some strummed chords using a simple country strumming pattern.
I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow by Dan Tyminski & Ron Block
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This song was originally written by Dick Burnett in the very early 1900s and had its first public recorded release in 1928 with the Emry Arthur version. But the most popular version and the one we are focussing on was recorded for the hit 2000 movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? It featured Dan Tyminski on vocals and won a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration.
The song is quite up-tempo and requires a good pace to be held on the strumming pattern. But within that strumming, there are a lot of targeted notes playing around that minor pentatonic/blues style.
Love Is on the Way by Saigon Kick
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This is a power ballad from American glam metal iconic Saigon Kick, from their second studio album The Lizard. This was unfortunately the band’s only single to chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, but it’s certainly a fan favorite and a lot of fun to cover. It was certified gold with over 500,000 copies sold.
The majority of the song outlines a chord progression using linear arpeggios, they are at a nice and slow 62bpm so shouldn’t pose too much technical trouble. When it comes to the solo, it can be played with a pick and just uses single-note melodies that usually stay on 1 string for quite a long time, making it very comfortable to play.
White Freightliner Blues by Molly Tuttle
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Originally performed by Townes Van Zandt on the album The Nashville Sessions, the song has been covered by a great number of artists including the great Molly Tuttle. Molly is well known for her high-level guitar techniques and as such, she’s a prolific teacher in the bluegrass space. She was even the first woman ever to be awarded the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitar Player of the Year award in both 2017 and 2018.
This really showcases how good Molly’s technique is, as she’s able to play fast, alternate-picked pentatonic/blues runs while singing. The song is very demanding from a technical perspective for both the accuracy it requires and the speed at which it’s played. Not for the faint of heart!
Neon by John Mayer
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Another player who is known for his technical ability and musical virtuosity, as well as his great songwriting sensibilities. His ability to play complicated guitar parts while singing at the same time is second to none. Neon is from his best-selling 2001 album Room for Squares, which has sold over 5 million copies to date and even earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
This drop C tune will at first seem like an incredibly difficult song to play, but thanks to some helpful tips John released on his TikTok account, we can see that there is a stable ‘thumping’ pattern he plays with his thumb throughout. So once you have that down, the rest should fall into place much easier.
Pride and Joy (Acoustic) by Stevie Ray Vaughan
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This is essentially a 12-bar blues song in the key of E, but Stevie Ray Vaughan gave it his signature lead flair. Originally the song was released in 1982 as part of his Texas Flood album. However, it was later recorded again as part of the MTV Unplugged series. Both versions of the single were very popular and are considered some of his best-known songs.
Although he is using a 12-string guitar on the MTV Unplugged version, it’s very easy to transfer this to a regular 6-string guitar and it can be played exactly the same way. It’s also in 12-string standard tuning which equates to standard E tuning on a typical 6-string guitar.
Tears Don’t Fall (acoustic) by Bullet for My Valentine
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At first glance, this may seem an unexpected entry, but the Welsh heavy metal band Bullet for My Valentine released a fantastic acoustic rendition of their popular single Tears Don’t Fall. It was originally released on their hit albumThe Poison. The album was later re-released as a deluxe edition which contained this acoustic rendition as a bonus track.
By and large, the guitar arrangement follows the original song quite closely. As the original was written as somewhat of a ‘metal ballad,’ it translates exceptionally well to the acoustic guitar.
Classical Gas by Tommy Emmanuel
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This was originally written by Mason Williams, but we’re focusing on the 1996 version legendary acoustic player Tommy Emmanuel recorded with the Australian Philharmonic Orchestra for his 1996 album Classical Gas. This brought a huge amount of attention to the song because of both Tommy’s creative embellishments and incredible technical proficiency in executing the piece.
Needless to say, this song will put your finger-picking skills to the test, it’s quite a bit faster with a lot more subtle inflections than the original. It makes for a very interesting piece but certainly demands a lot from you as a player. Best of luck!
Last Thing on My Mind by Tony Rice
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This song was first recorded by Tom Paxton in 1964 as part of his album Ramblin’ Boy. It is known as one of his best compositions and as such, has been covered by a tremendous number of artists. The first popular one came from Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, but it would later be covered by Tony Rice who added his own flair to the song, which fans fell in love with.
It’s played at a fair pace and requires a good amount of finger-picking dexterity to execute properly. It helps a lot if you use a thumb-pick with this song to let those bass notes pop out.
Fade to Black by Metallica
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After their initial run as a pure thrash metal band, by the mid-’80s Metallica had started to explore other areas of music and even played with the acoustic guitar. Fade to Black is essentially a power ballad from their Ride the Lightning album and was their first song to dabble with an opening acoustic guitar solo. It has a somber mood which was influenced by the fact they recently had a lot of equipment stolen by someone who broke into their truck.
The introductory acoustic solo begins just using a simple 3-string arpeggio. After the electric guitar solo has finished, it ramps up into a more involved fingerpicking solo which requires playing both a melody and bassline at the same time.
Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
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You knew it was coming. One of the most iconic opening acoustic solos of all time and certainly something that anyone who’s worked in a guitar store has grown sick of hearing. It’s a legendary piece that many consider to be one of the greatest songs of all time and was one of the most requested songs on radio stations following its release.
The acoustic part is played at a relatively slow pace. Time should be taken to let the notes breathe and let the phrasing come through. It has a very emotive chord progression in Am that you’ll be outlining mostly with single notes with the occasional bit of harmony thrown in.
Wonderboy by Tenacious D
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Lightening up the mood a bit next with comedy legends, movie stars, and stellar musicians Tenacious D. They are well known for putting their comedic spin on things to poke fun at musical tropes. This song was the second single from their self-titled album and tells the fictional tale of a superhero called Wonderboy who teams up with his arch-rival Young Nasty Man to form the band Tenacious D.
This song somewhat parodies the power metal ballad, presenting it in this fantasy/swords and sorcery content. So we have a very interesting juxtaposition where the solo is essentially a power metal solo, but played on an acoustic guitar and lute making it purposely out of content. A great deal of fun to play with!
Over the Hills and Far Away by Led Zeppelin
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Finishing things off with another iconic track from the English rock legends Led Zeppelin. This is from their 1973 album Houses of the Holy. While we know this as a typical driving and hard rock Led Zeppelin song, it does open with a fantastic acoustic solo.
The solo itself uses a really fluid movement combined with lots of hammer-ons and pull-offs to present this unique cascading arpeggio sound. These then end on some strummed chords which outline the progression G, D x3 before finally ending on a Cadd9.
Final Thoughts on the Best Acoustic Guitar Solos
With this list of the 50 best acoustic guitar solos, you have a treasure trove of songs to practice and master.
From fingerstyle pieces like Tears in Heaven and Classical Gas to more upbeat tracks like Hotel California and Over the Hills and Far Away, this collection offers something for guitar players of all skill levels.
But the real takeaway here is the opportunity for growth – by starting with the easier solos and working your way up to the harder ones, you can challenge yourself and improve your playing.
So pick a solo, start practicing, and see how far you can go!