What is the longest guitar solo ever recorded? The longest guitar solo lasted just 5 minutes shy of 25 hours! This marvelous feat was executed by guitarist David Didonato who broke the Guinness World Record for the most extended guitar solo, which went on for 24 hours and 55 minutes.
Guitar solos are arguably the heart of every rock and roll track. A fantastic solo takes the spotlight from the vocalists and bridges listeners to a climactic finish – but you do not necessarily wait that long until the final chorus kicks in.
According to a study by the Audio Engineering Society, an average guitar solo lasts for 35 seconds (given that the song itself only lasts three to four minutes long). We know many think solos last longer than this, but it’s probably because of all the replays we’ve hit.
If you ask us, the debate over the greatest guitar solos of all time has been too oversaturated. Instead, let’s look into something we can objectively assess – the longest guitar solos of all time.
The Longest Guitar Solo: It’s Longer Than a Day!
Would you believe that the world’s longest guitar solo took more than a day?
Believe it or not, this extreme feat was achieved by David Didonato, a local music instructor and band member from Austin, Texas.
At the Austin club Red 7, the Modok guitarist played for 24 hours and 55 minutes. This session broke the Guinness World Record for the most extended guitar solo. The said record was previously held at 24 hours and 17 minutes – meaning Didonato had beat the record by 28 minutes!
Red 7 revealed that the monumental session was live-streamed globally (via UStream and Gawker.com) along with a roaster of a live audience for verification. And, of course, Didonato had to take a few breaks to breathe and freshen up!
However, with such a remarkable feat came an array of backlash.
“Oh… and not repeating one lick?” said the former Guns N Roses guitarist and living ax legend, Slash, in an interview with Tone Deaf. The icon, known for solos as well, questioned the validity and criteria of the record: “If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, is that still considered a guitar solo?”
Slash, then, proceeded to further joke by saying he expected the record to be longer – about a week, to be exact! Still, he congratulated DiDonato for the once-in-a-lifetime achievement.
Before being written down in music history, DiDonato played with several underground bands before working as a music instructor.
Here’s a clip of Didonato at hour 19 of the solo:
As mentioned earlier, the record broken by DiDonato was an almost equally astounding 24 hours and 17-minute session. If you ponder it, it’s astonishing how tightly packed the records are if ranked.
With what guitar legend Slash mentioned, you might be wondering: what about the longest guitar solos in popular music? If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered (try comparing this to the average guitar solo length of 35 seconds!).
Note: these solos are noted based on their studio versions. Live versions are typically more extended!
Dazed and Confused by Led Zeppelin. It was re-recorded for Led Zeppelin’s debut album, with new lyrics and vocal lines. It was a hallmark song and a performance mainstay for most of its history. It has a 1 minute and 30-second guitar solo.
Fade to Black by Metallica. Metallica’s first power ballad was released as the first promotional single off their second studio album. Guitar World readers voted the song as having the 24th greatest guitar solo of all time, spanning 1 minute and 55 seconds.
Hotel California by The Eagles. The title tune from the Eagles’ album is of the same name. The song is the band’s most well-known track, and its 2 minutes and 18-second guitar solo were deemed the greatest guitar coda of all time by Guitarist readers.
Green Grass and High Tides by The Outlaws. It’s the tenth (last) tune from Outlaws, its debut album. One of their most well-known songs, it has two extended guitar solos that stretch the song to over ten minutes. These solos last a total of 2 minutes and 21 seconds.
Blue Sky by The Allman Brothers. A song that appears on their third studio album. The song is more country-influenced than many others in the band’s discography. Overall, three guitarists alternated as leads during the song’s guitar solo, resulting in a 3 minute and 5-second coda (almost the length of a typical pop song).
I Heard It Through the Grapevine by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The tune has been covered by a medley of performers, including Creedence Clearwater Revival, who created an eleven-minute version for their album, Cosmo’s Factory – in addition to being issued multiple times by other Motown singers. This already lengthy rendition of the classic song contains a 4-minutes and 52-second guitar solo!
What’s the Point of a Guitar Solo?
A lyrical, instrumental segment or whole piece of music created for a classical guitar, electric guitar, or acoustic guitar is a guitar solo. They span from solo works for a single guitar to compositions using a few accompanying instruments as support.
For something to surpass the test of time, it must serve a specific purpose. What’s the deal with guitar solos anyways?
Guitar solos (also known as lead breaks) have a long history, dating back to the call and response labor songs performed by enslaved people in plantations. The “caller” would establish the song’s tone and rhythm by calling a musical phrase. The rest of the workers would react with a modification or repetition. Others may contribute their own interpretations, and so on. When guitars and other instruments were available, they could experiment and evolve.
It is now used for several reasons. In many songs, a solo serves as the grand finale. Still, it also serves as an emotional experience of the song’s concept. It also provides an opportunity for recognition to the guitarist.
This read has been long – but not as long as the guitars solos we’ve listed.
Indeed, lead breaks add an extra kick to any track when done right. They also put the often overseen guitarist up on a pedestal where they can be rightfully appreciated.
Still, behind the extended guitar solo is hours of composition and practice. So next time you listen to your favorite guitar solo, pay your hugest respect to the talented guitarist.
Joyce Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies at New Era University. She especially enjoyed her journalism class and was nominated for Photojournalist of the Year. Joyce Anne loves music; she is a self-taught piano player. When she's not writing (or baking or watching documentaries), she's probably playing songs on the piano, mostly by ear.