For over five decades, David Gilmour has been considered one of the one of the best guitarists of his generation. Through his unique style and sound, Gilmour has dazzled audiences since his days in Pink Floyd, and continued to set benchmarks after embarking on an equally adventurous solo career. By creating some of the greatest guitar solos ever recorded, Gilmour has made many of rock’s most iconic songs truly unforgettable. Here, then, are the best David Gilmour solos – each one leaving an indelible mark on music history.
20: Pink Floyd: Louder Than Words (from ‘The Endless River’, 2014)
Nothing short of masterful, David Gilmour’s guitar solo on the song Louder Than Words, from Pink Floyd’s 2014 album, The Endless River, served as a reminder of his legendary reputation. Seamlessly weaving together bluesy riffs and shredding licks while maintaining a delicate atmosphere throughout, Gilmour also deploys effects pedals to create ambient noises which add extra potency to lyrics that pay tribute not just to his late bandmate, the keyboardist Richard Wright, but also to Pink Floyd’s sonic mission statement. It’s a bittersweet performance that ranks highly among the best David Gilmour guitar solos: a fitting epitaph to an unparalleled career in rock history.
19: David Gilmour: Murder (from ‘About Face’, 1984)
Released on his second solo album, 1984’s About Face, Murder sticks fast in the memory thanks to Gilmour’s visceral and blood-curdling guitar solo. From gentle arpeggios to full-blown shredding riffs, Gilmour’s fretwork never fails to leave listeners spellbound with its sheer power and emotion. The soundscape created by his guitar on Murder is one of gumshoe-grade deduction: it builds slowly into a crescendo of electric energy before finally settling back down into a melodic groove. As one of the best David Gilmour solo songs, Murder deserved to make a killing.
18: Pink Floyd: Fat Old Sun (from ‘Atom Heart Mother’, 1970)
The early Pink Floyd classic Fat Old Sun, from the group’s 1970 album, Atom Heart Mother, has been a fan favourite for decades. Performing an epic guitar solo on his Gibson Les Paul Gold Top, Gilmour delivers a masterful display of skill and technique that highlights his virtuoso talents as a musician. Blending various musical elements together with ease, Gilmour’s solo on Fat Old Sun was a pre-Dark Side Of The Moon showcase of his ability to use vibrato and alternate picking to create an emotional yet powerful air of mystery.
17: David Gilmour: In Any Tongue (from ‘Rattle That Lock’, 2015)
Among a catalogue of mesmerising guitar solos that require careful listening to appreciate their beautiful complexity, Gilmour’s performance on In Any Tongue makes for a stunning listen. Originally released on his 2015 solo album, Rattle That Lock, this solo is full of nuances and intricacies, offering a combination of melodic ingenuity and harmonic adventurousness that combine to make for a truly unique musical experience among the best David Gilmour guitar solos. As ever, his mastery of tone control, vibrato speed and bending techniques all come together seamlessly to create an atmosphere of raw emotion.
16: Pink Floyd: Coming Back To Life (from ‘The Division Bell’, 1994)
Using delay and sustain effects to give the song an ethereal quality that draws listeners into its soundscape, Gilmour’s unique gifts as a musician are on full display in the six-minute Coming Back To Life. Appearing on Pink Floyd’s 1994 album, The Division Bell, Gilmour’s solo makes use of various techniques, including alternate picking and vibrato, and even dabbling in variations of tempo. As a result, every note on Coming Back To Life feels special and intentional – there are no wasted notes. Set against an ambient atmosphere that transports listeners to another realm, this is a truly vivifying example of the best David Gilmour guitar solos.
15: David Gilmour: Raise My Rent (from ‘David Gilmour’, 1978)
Appearing on David Gilmour’s self-titled solo debut album, released in 1978, when he was at the peak of his Pink Floyd-era powers, the instrumental track Raise My Rent sees the guitarist turn in a solo that transitions from delicate arpeggios to smooth-sounding blues-rock licks, giving the song a uniquely dynamic feel that oozes with vulnerability and expression. With Gilmour’s signature sound striking the perfect balance between technical mastery and emotional resonance, Raise My Rent is a landlord-baiting display of skill, feeling and soul, its lengthy guitar solo shining throughout even the most complex musical passages.
14: Pink Floyd: On The Turning Away (from ‘A Momentary Lapse Of Reason’, 1987)
Capturing a sense of raw fragility while at the same time conveying an impressive level of fluidity that only David Gilmour can bring to the table, his guitar solo on Pink Floyd’s On The Turning Away is a thing of beauty. Originally released on the band’s 1987 album, A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, this five-minute protest song verges on power balladry and sees Gilmour bend notes like a painter working on a colourful sonic canvas. All in all, his ability to masterfully convey emotion through his playing is what makes On the Turning Away such a special example of the best David Gilmour guitar solos.
13: Paul McCartney: No More Lonely Nights (from ‘Give My Regards To Broad Street’, 1984)
David Gilmour’s contribution to Paul McCartney’s 1984 hit No More Lonely Nights saw the worlds of The Beatles and Pink Floyd collide. McCartney’s melodic ballad clearly brought the best out of Gilmour, who blessed the track with a magical guitar solo, deploying his signature bluesy style, along with the technical prowess fans had come to expect from the best David Gilmour guitar solos. Despite becoming a UK No.2 hit in its day, No More Lonely Nights is a much-overlooked song that remains one of Paul McCartney’s hidden gems, so it’s high time it was rediscovered and reappraised by music fans.
12: Pink Floyd: Marooned (from ‘The Division Bell’, 1994)
Marooned is beloved by Pink Floyd fans for containing one of the best David Gilmour guitar solos. Born out of years of hard-won experience, Gilmour’s soaring melodies and intricate runs highlight his unique mastery of his instrument. Containing an incredible guitar solo that was met with great acclaim at the time of the album’s release, Marooned continues to hold a special place in the hearts of Pink Floyd fans for scoring the band the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
11: Kate Bush: Wuthering Heights (from ‘The Kick Inside’, 1978)
David Gilmour’s guitar solo for Kate Bush’s debut single, Wuthering Heights, is one of those musical moments that will never be forgotten. Melding perfectly with the song’s spellbinding melody, Gilmour’s performance is hauntingly evocative, as he uses his guitar to underscore the song’s emotion and intensity. Sending a chill down listeners’ spines like a bitter wind on the Moors, Gilmour’s solo conjures otherworldly tones that perfectly complement Bush’s lyrics, inspired as they were by Emily Brontë’s gothic romance novel.
10: David Gilmour: On An Island (from ‘On An Island’, 2006)
From its dreamy sound to its intricate melodies and passionate intensity, it’s no surprise that the tile track to Gilmour’s 2006 solo album, On An Island, contains a fan favourite among the best David Gilmour guitar solos. An ethereal experience filled with melodic phrasing and breathtakingly beautiful nuances, it’s a song full of emotion that is enhanced by Gilmour’s masterful guitar work. Taking listeners on a journey through a virtuoso display of technical skill and creative brilliance, Gilmour’s solo paints a vivid picture using the strings of not just one but two of his guitars – a Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Stratocaster. His use of vibrato and tremolo add to the complexity and impact of On An Island, making it a gorgeous piece of music.
9: Pink Floyd: Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2 (from ‘The Wall’, 1979)
The most successful single from Pink Floyd’s 1979 album, The Wall, Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2 – a scathing critique of the British school system – saw Gilmour wield his Gibson Les Paul Gold Top like a cane-carrying headmaster during the dark days of corporal punishment. Schooling listeners with a punishing guitar solo, Gilmour delivers a masterclass in depth and vibrancy, his use of F90 soapbar pickups rewriting the rulebook in real time. Adding an extra layer of complexity to blues-based riffing with impeccable vibrato bends, Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2 stands out among the best David Gilmour guitar solos, his performance adding to the lyrics’ message to help the song become a pop culture sensation.
8: Pink Floyd: Pigs (Three Different Ones) (from ‘Animals’, 1977)
Full of oinking guitar riffs that roll around like a hog in swill, Gilmour’s solo on the caustic Pink Floyd rocker Pigs (Three Different Ones) is one of his best and most memorable pieces, owing to its intense energy, passion and technical prowess. An undeniable work of stellar musicianship, the performance segues from tail-curlingly brilliant blues licks into a sizzling soundscape full of distorted melodies, heavy vibrato and powerful bends. What makes Pigs (Three Different Ones) rank among the best David Gilmour guitar solos is how dynamic it all sounds; no two moments are alike, making it an exciting sonic journey from start to finish.
7: Pink Floyd: Money (from ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’, 1973)
An incredible combination of bluesy licks and intricate fretwork, David Gilmour’s face-melting performance on Pink Floyd’s 1973 song Money is truly remarkable in every sense of the word, and is adored among fans and musicians alike. Breaking into a stunning vibrato like he’s soundtracking a heist on Fort Knocks, the guitarist’s solo on Money is chock-full with richness and shines like a fistful of doubloons, easily ranking among the best David Gilmour guitar solos of all time.
6: Pink Floyd: Dogs (from ‘Animals’, 1977)
Taking up the bulk of the running time on Pink Floyd’s 1977 album, Animals, the 17-minute progressive-rock epic Dogs saw Gilmour serve up a yowling performance that snarls and foams at the mouth. His playing throughout the entire song is outstanding, but it’s his solo that really steals the show as he switches between intense bluesy riffs and fast-paced licks with ease. All done with the masterful precision and skill that define the very best David Gilmour guitar solos, Dogs will captivate any listener who takes a deep dive into this classic tune.
5: Pink Floyd: Echoes (from ‘Meddle’, 1971)
Greeting listeners with what sounded like the sonar pings of a nuclear sub, Pink Floyd’s Echoes sees Gilmour explore uncharted depths of guitar soloing in a 23-minute progressive-rock behemoth. Rising like a kraken from the deep, this song, from 1971’s Meddle, pushed Gilmour into new sonic territory, with a prog-funk break seven minutes in prompting him to summon a solo as adventurous as a hitching a ride on the back of a whale. If you want a demonstration of why Echoes elevated Gilmour into the guitar-god pantheon, look no further than Pink Floyd’s 1972 film, Live At Pompeii – even Mars, the Roman god of war, would be impressed.
4: Pink Floyd: High Hopes (from ‘The Division Bell’, 1994)
Appearing on The Division Bell, High Hopes includes one of Gilmour’s most memorable performances. His signature style of playing is evident throughout the 13-minute track, building to an emotional climax with delicately poised riffs that positively ache with nostalgia as Gilmour channels memories of his childhood. His use of minor chords adds a melancholic undertone that gives the piece a hypnotic feel, with church bells creating a mournful effect that compels listeners to bow their heads in quiet reflection.
3: Pink Floyd: Shine On You Crazy Diamond (from ‘Wish You Were Here’, 1975)
Gilmour’s virtuoso guitar playing is on full display throughout Pink Floyd’s 1975 two-part suite Shine On You Crazy Diamond, as he runs through a series of blissfully shrill runs which, combined, rank among the very best David Gilmour guitar solos. Crafting each phrase with meticulous execution while still retaining a sense of soulful improvisation, Gilmour’s blues-based underpinnings splinter off into many directions here, almost spilling into jazz-funk on the song’s musical breakdown. With a bright yet full-bodied tone that gives plenty of attack without sacrificing melodic warmth, there can be little doubt this solo is his magnum opus.
2: Pink Floyd: Time (from ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’, 1973)
Kicking off with metronomic ticking, Time’s explosion of clock noises was a sonic marvel in itself, but nothing quite prepares the listener for Gilmour’s extraordinary solo. An absolute masterclass in guitar playing, Gilmour’s beautiful tapestry of sound builds in tension before bringing things to an epic climax at the end. In addition to his extraordinary technical proficiency, Gilmour also manages to evoke the song’s conceptual themes of facing up to ageing, almost as if he’s making a bid for immortality in the very act of playing. Standing tall among the best David Gilmour guitar solos, his performance on Time is an everlasting triumph.
1: Pink Floyd: Comfortably Numb (from ‘The Wall’, 1979)
Claiming the crown among the best David Gilmour guitar solos, Comfortably Numb is arguably the guitarist’s finest moment in the studio. Appearing on The Wall, this rousing rock ballad coaxes out of Gilmour riffs which scrape the sky to soul-stirring effect. Throughout his playing, Gilmour shows off his signature tone and unique phrasing, building to a crescendo with a series of bends, then concluding with an explosive finale, before fading away gracefully at the end. There can be no arguments that this is one for the history books. Only the uncomfortably numb would disagree.
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