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.
But an often underrated area of the guitar is the acoustic guitar solo, the very nature of an acoustic guitar with its higher action and increased difficulty when performing bends means it pulls the player away from speed and into thinking more about note choice.
We wanted to showcase how good acoustic guitar solos can be and have gathered up 50 of our favorites which you can learn yourself with the provided tablature and video lesson.
- 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 Bards 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 Johns 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
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 going in 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 down picking 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 The 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 chords 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 down pick the entire thing should you wish.
Don’t Speak by No Doubt
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While I’m sure many know Gwen Stefani for her thriving career as a solo pop artist. But for those present during the 90s, 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 and 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 to play 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 match that of the original song.
Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
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While this is technically played using an electric guitar on a clean tone, its fingerpicked style combined with the fact 9/10 times you see this song 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, the solo is actually one of the easier parts. Just using some 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 as he plays it in 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 that routinely makes its way into their live performances. There is also a dedicated ‘only acoustic’ version released as part of the 2001 album titled ‘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 are not 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 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 mid-way 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 is something that with a little practice even a beginner should be able to master. The main challenge with this 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 he wrote the song while struggling with indecision about whether he should go back to school or continue along his musical journey with Lindsey Buckingham. Fortunately, he 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, unfortunately unlike more ‘chordy’ songs, 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 ‘MTV 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. Despite the tumultuous relationship between brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, when they were together they made world class music 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, a lot 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 is a song that sounds like it has a very complex arrangement and chord structure like there was tremendous emphasis put on the instruments, which 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 668 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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Unlike what we usually associate with Bob’s style and sound, this song contained very little of that signature reggae influence. This was largely due to his recent cancer diagnosis which adds this tremendous weight behind 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 being given a Golden Globe nomination for his compositions in 2008.
The solo for this song 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 in 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 on the 2006 Winter Olympics and then again two years later on the popular movie ‘Never Back Down’.
At first, this might be seen as a slightly out of context solo. But in fact, it does suit the vibe of the song exceptionally well. Not only that, it’s quite a technical solo too and you will 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 other Foo Fighters albums which put a lot of emphasis on being more alternative rock/grunge, this album is particularly well known for blending acoustic tracks in between the rock ones. 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’s 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, firstly as part of the 1991 movie soundtrack ‘Rush’, and then again later on as an unplugged 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 of which you can pick and choose what to play. There’s a fairly simple fingerpicked chord progression which outlines the main rhythm of the song. But then in addition to that, there are numerous small lead lines and of course, the main solo of the song layered over the top.
The Bards 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 has 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 grimey 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 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 on 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 at the same time there are some cool slides and chordal motifs worked in together.
Uncle Johns 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 charting 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 and 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 a nod, or homage, to the stereotypical ‘old west’ cowboy heroes. He’s also mentioned 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 is 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 when it’s on the lower strings it’ll feel much more comfortable.
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 guitar. It was quite popular and received a fair bit of radio play considering the genre they are involved with.
Obviously, the opening of the song is played on a 12 string guitar, but not to worry if you don’t have one to 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. With the acoustic solo simply requiring 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 for the song picking mostly single note melodies which is 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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Originally written by Fleetwood Mac, The Smashing Pumpkins covered this song in 1994 as part of their ‘Pisces Iscariot’ album. Even though it was just a b-side track, it did do very well commercially, making it into the top three of the Modern Rock Charts, and was used as part of the soundtrack to the popular TV show ‘Alias’.
The first thing to notice about the song is its exceptionally rich tone, it’s been recorded very well. Although the notes that you play are slow and measured, making sure they are 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 that the song is discussing a person’s journey from being innocent to being experienced. 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 thumb nail 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. Of which the main melody of the song is used numerous times throughout the movie as its signature motif. The song 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 is 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 themselves, 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, and while not quite at the same level of popularity as Kiss, the song 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 2017digital 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 movie ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ released in 2000. Which 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 which is 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 is 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 is outlining a chord progression using linear arpeggios, they are at a nice and slow 62bpm so shouldn’t pose too much technical trouble. Then 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’s 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 is a prolific teacher in the bluegrass space. She was even the first woman ever to be awarded the International Bluegrass Music Associations 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 in which it’s played at. 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, but also for 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 2001 album ‘Room for Squares’, his best selling album, which has sold over 5 million copies to date and even earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
This will at first seem like an incredibly difficult song to play, but thanks to some helpful tips John has released on his tiktok account we can see that there is a stable ‘thumping’ pattern John 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’. Originally released on their hit album ‘The Poison’, but later on the album was re-released as a deluxe edition which also contained this acoustic rendition as a bonus track.
By and large, it follows the original song quite closely with the guitar arrangement. As the original was written as somewhat of a ‘metal-ballad’ it translate exceptionally well to the acoustic guitar.
Classical Gas by Tommy Emmanuel
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Originally written by Mason Williams, however, it’s the 1996 version legendary acoustic player Tommy Emmanuel recorded with the Australian Philharmonic Orchestra for his 1996 album also titled ‘Classical Gas. This brought a huge amount of attention for 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 firstly 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.
The song is 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, they 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, but then 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 open acoustic solos of all time and certainly something that anyone who has worked in a guitar store has grown sick of hearing due to its overuse. 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 to this 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 parody a lot of musical tropes. This song was the second single from their self-titled album which 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 to!
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.