In this article, we will be taking a look at 9 of the best Brian May guitar solos of all time. I’ve really been enjoying creating my list based content over the last few months. But recently, I wrote 2 lists based on the worst guitar solos of all time which you can read here.
Those lists have left me craving some good sounding guitar work. Specifically, I’m in the mood for some Brian May guitar.
This mood was brought on by a quote from Brian May that I read this morning. Here it is in full.
“I will never claim to be a great guitarist in the sense of a virtuoso. I just try to play from my heart. It’s about making that guitar sing.”
I found this quote very interesting. The lead guitar of Brian May has always spoken to me in a different way to a lot of the other guitar players that I love. You can tell that Brian May’s lead guitar playing comes from a very genuine place. He doesn’t just make the guitar sing in my opinion. He makes it whisper in my ear. Almost like he’s in the same room as me with his guitar and amp. To this day, Brian May is the only guitar player who has given me this feeling. This leads me to argue against part of the above quote. Brian, I’m sorry lad but you are a virtuoso in my eyes and undoubtedly, a great guitarist. Get your facts right.
The 9 guitar solos listed in this article very much strengthen my claim that Brian May is actually a great guitarist and a virtuoso. Let’s dive straight in and look at 9 of the best Brian My guitar solos of all time. The list is in no particular order, but it starts with the most obvious.
9 of the best Brian May guitar solos of all time #1 Bohemian Rhapsody
This list is in no particular order, but the Brian May guitar solo from Bohemian Rhapsody is indeed the most obvious. It’s so obvious that I’ve written about the solo recently in another article. Rather than just saying the same thing in a slightly different way, I’ll just show you what I wrote about it previously.
“This is a long track with lots of different parts so let’s establish where the guitar solo is that I’m discussing. I’m listening to the guitar solo that starts at around the 2-and-a-half-minute point in the song.
I’ve always had the opinion that Brain May’s lead guitar tone is right up there with the best and I love how his solos are mixed. Very raw sounding. Like he’s playing right there in the room with you.
The tone contributes a lot to how epic the solo sounds, but May’s masterful playing helps a little too. Here May blends melody with cool licks seamlessly. It feels very big and how it drops out for that next part is brilliant.”
I don’t think the above does this guitar solo justice necessarily. The word virtuoso has been thrown about in this article already but this guitar solo embodies what the word virtuoso means in my opinion. Absolutely masterful.
9 of the best Brian May guitar solos of all time #2 Stone Cold Crazy
Stone Cold Crazy is a very short track that contains a lot of lead guitar. The track feels like it needs to be contained in one of those white jacket things all the way through and the lead guitar does a stupendous job of matching that feeling, particularly the second solo.
This solo is not in line with what’s considered normal in society, but May is clearly in full control of the situation. The little chromatic part breaks the brain more than a lobotomy but I still feel safe, like I’m in a padded cell.
The feeling of unhinged danger executed with the control and restraint of a genius is how I’d best summarise this Brian May guitar solo.
9 of the best Brian May guitar solos of all time #3 Killer Queen
I believe I’m correct in thinking that the guitar solo from Killer Queen was named by Brian May as one of his personal favourites, and I can see why.
It may be one of May’s favourites but that’s not why I included it. I included this one because I think that it’s a great development of the song’s main melody. It stays close to what’s already established yet at the same time, it’s incredibly distinctive and injects the song with the ideal dose of variation.
It’s bouncy, playful and fun but still sounds like badass rock guitar thanks to the tremendous guitar tone. This is one of those guitar parts that couldn’t possibly be improved in any possible way. May nailed it here.
9 of the best Brian May guitar solos of all time #4 I Want to Break Free
The guitar solo from I Want to Break Free is in a way similar to the previous entry in that it stands on the shoulders of the music that’s already there and builds on it. May is a master of this in my opinion. I really can’t think of anybody who does this as well as he does.
Another reason why I selected this solo is the tone. This may feel like Groundhog Day at this point but the sound of this guitar solo is incredibly distinctive. I can’t imagine this song without the solo sounding like this. It certainly has a lot of identity. In fact, if you were to compile a list of guitar solos that have the most identity, this one would be right up there. Say, there’s an idea.
9 of the best Brian May guitar solos of all time #5 Somebody to Love
A pattern is emerging. Firstly, the solo here is in my opinion, the embodiment of what a lead guitar should sound like. It’s very raw. It doesn’t depend on anything other than the execution which is thankfully in the hands of a guitar god.
The content of the guitar solo is similar to the previous two entries in that it takes what’s there already in terms of melody and builds on it. This is another seamless blend of melody and masterful licks.
9 of the best Brian May guitar solos of all time #6 We Will Rock You
Next, we have something a little different with We Will Rock You. We all know the song so I don’t need to explain what goes on. If you don’t know the song, firstly, go and listen to it and secondly, you disgust me but the part at the end where the guitar comes in with that powerful and commanding distortion is a joy for any guitar lover.
The guitar from this track is like your girlfriend, very satisfying to me. This is also one of those pieces of guitar excellence that every guitar player should learn at some point. I feel a lesson coming on. By the way, I was only joking. I know you don’t have a girlfriend.
9 of the best Brian May guitar solos of all time #7 Chinese Torture
The first thing that came up in Spotify when I typed in “Chinese” was Chinese Democracy, the Guns N’ Roses album. No, I’m not after that mixed bag. No, I was looking clearly for the sub 2 minutes instrumental track Chinese Torture that sounds like I’m about to confront some kind of 8 bit boss.
This one is completely different to everything in the list up until this point and I suppose it isn’t a solo as such but I simply had to include it because I find It so fun. There’s some great licks in there that any guitar player would be proud of.
9 of the best Brian May guitar solos of all time #8 Bijou
There was no getting this showcase of excellence mixed up with anything else. The guitar focused intro of this song is really something else. The pedal note work at the very start captures the attention immediately and the emotion packed lead that follows is perhaps the most powerful guitar work we’ve had in the list so far.
We’re treated to the same level of brilliance at the end of the track too. May really makes the guitar sing in this one. It’s something to behold. Beautiful bar after beautiful bar take us to the end of the track and we feel every single note along the way. The performance here is truly stunning and an example to all on how to portray emotion through an instrument.
9 of the best Brian May guitar solos of all time #9 Brighton Rock
I’m running low on time so naturally, a 5 minute track is last on the list. Our first experience of lead guitar comes at around the two minute mark. We get some good old rock n roll style licks followed by a guitar focused rhythm section that lasts for a big portion of the track. Eventually, we get more cool licks but to be honest, I decided to include this one because of the rhythm side of things.
The guitar in this track is a great example of how a guitarist can capture the attention with the low strings just as much as the high ones. There’s lead stuff in there don’t get me wrong, but it’s all built around that strong commanding rhythm.
It would have been easy for May to smash out a bunch of licks that were similar to what we heard at the start of the guitar section but what we got instead was a much more interesting piece of music and after all, that’s the aim right?
Thanks for checking out this article on 9 of the best Brian May guitar solos of all time. If you enjoyed this list, these similar ones may prove interesting also.
Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.