Lists of the best guitar solos are great for inspiration.
But sometimes, it also helps to check out the worst guitar solos.
Have you ever felt down about your own poor playing?
Try watching some professional musicians completely blow it.
That will make you feel better!
At least it works for me.
Keep reading for my choices for the absolute worst solos I’ve seen played on the guitar. By professionals. Obviously, I’ve pulled off far worse solos than those, back when I was first learning to play.
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Worst Guitar Solos Of All Time
There are a lot of bad solos out there, though most of them are just simple or boring. The following 5 solos take “bad” to the next level. They make you cringe and feel embarrassed for the guitarist playing them.
Nevermind by Limp Bizkit, Fred Durst
The vast majority of rock guitar solos that can be categorized as the “worst of all time” are merely failures due to intoxication, exhaustion, or poor focus. But here we have a unique one.
Nevermind is a fairly great song and I love Limp Bizkit to death, but Fred simply never bothered to make a solo for it. It feels as if a first-time player is struggling to find the strings, let alone notes, for a song they heard for the first time on the radio a few minutes ago.
The random riff in the middle of it made me think that Mr. Durst was checking his tune mid-solo. I’m speechless at how incoherent and bad this solo sounds, coming from such a huge name in the music industry.
In his defense, I must say that the entire tune is a solid soft rock ballad until it transforms into a chaotic flurry of mis-fretted notes. Fortunately, this song never made it on any Limp Bizkit albums, but it’s so difficult to forget if you religiously followed the band as I did.
Uneasy by Jon Batiste, Lil’ Wayne
Even though he’s globally renowned as an upper-class hip-hop artist, Lil’ Wayne has played guitar both live and in various studio recordings (both of his own and while guesting on other people’s albums).
Since he was never hailed as a guitar hero nor as a dedicated guitarist to begin with, I feel we should drop the bar a level while diving into the solo in Uneasy.
The title of this tune actually depicts the exact feeling I had when I first heard Lil’ Wayne’s jam. It’s as if he was trying to push the notes into the next bar to make it in time. I can’t even comment on his first-time-player thumb-style escapades, which he famously deployed in nearly every live footage of him and a guitar.
The reason I believe Lil’ Wayne’s solo in Uneasy deserves a spot among the worst guitar solos of all time is that the song is so smoothly produced that it’s almost impossible to sound bad, yet he somehow succeeded. The only saving grace is that he at least found the right notes.
Peter Pan by Kelsea Ballerini, Nick Jonas
I couldn’t find who recorded the original solo of Kelsea Ballerini’s Peter Pan. Still, Nick Jonas’s attempt at covering it at the ACM Awards made an avalanche of headlines for all the right reasons.
The original version is a blend of smooth, romantic licks and fairly technical sweeps, not something for which we remember the Jonas Brothers. Nick did this solo justice in the first couple of bars, although his tone was as bland as sandpaper.
The legendary fail occurred right when the sweeping part was about to begin. When I first watched it, I felt that Nick had an epiphany and realized he couldn’t do it, almost freezing in the aftermath. Panicked, he hit a few notes, as if searching for the root that began the sequence.
Unlike Fred and Lil’ Wayne, his professionalism saved the day, since he managed to pluck a few ghost notes in an attempt to hide the obvious mistakes.
Hung Up/A New Level by Pantera, Madonna
The title of this “song” is, sadly, not a typo, as much as I wished it was. Some 15 years ago during the Buenos Aires leg of Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet tour, some of her producers thought it would be interesting to add one of the most brutal Pantera songs on top of one of her trendiest tunes.
To call it interesting is a major understatement. I’d never dream of hearing Madonna pull off such slick riffs with such ferocity in her eyes, only to overplay and ultimately ruin Dime’s legendary work.
The late great Dimebag was a peerless guitarist with a unique style. Even the most battle-hardened pros would shy away from covering his intricate solos. The best way to describe Madonna’s take on the A New Level solo is a weird mix of (literal) shredding and twerking.
Knowing that it would be impossible to pull off Dime’s super-technical slides, she hung the guitar on her back and began grinding over the strings. I’d give her 10 out of 10 stars for the shock factor, if this wasn’t the full extent of the gig.
She kept doing the same thing until the very end of the “solo”, which basically resulted in a series of screeching noises. Pop fans do tend to think metal sounds like this, so at least I get what she was thinking about.
Leather So Soft by Lil’ Wayne
There are only so many guitarists who keep redefining the norms today that I had to include yet another iconic performance of Lil Wayne on this list.
This time around, my motive is largely inspired by how enthralled the fans looked after hearing what most guitar players worth their salt would consider a dumpster fire doused with sewer water.
Tuning by ear in the middle of the set while people are screaming left, right, and center tells me Mr. Lil either has the hearing of a dolphin or an armadillo. Either way, he only had to tune two strings to play a piece as complex and elaborate as this.
What surprised me the most is that this solo is essentially a pair of single notes plucked by thumb, with an occasional pull to make the root sharp.
It is not a hard guitar solo to play at all. No 3rds, 5ths, 7ths, or any chords for that matter – only two notes, and a rare occurrence of a third.
You’d think this was a warm-up exercise to grease up your fretting hand, yet Lil Wayne spent more time tuning than playing it.
Imagine having programmed background beats to keep your time and only having to play a pair of single notes on the same string, yet still falling out of tempo. If this solo doesn’t take the crown on this list, I don’t know which one does.
Terrible Guitar Solos: Final Thoughts
The worst guitar solos of all time are not just simple or boring, but cringe-worthy and embarrassing to listen to.
From Fred Durst’s incoherent and chaotic solo in Nevermind to Lil’ Wayne’s awkward and out-of-time performance in Leather So Soft, these solos have left a lasting impression for all the wrong reasons.
Even renowned artists like Nick Jonas and Madonna have had their share of infamous guitar solos, further emphasizing that technical skill and musicality are crucial in delivering a memorable solo.
While these solos may have missed the mark, they serve as a reminder of the importance of craftsmanship and dedication in creating impactful and meaningful music.
More importantly, they make us feel better about our lack of guitar skills, especially when you can just string a few notes together and sound better than any solo on this list.
O try your hand at some of these simple guitar solos. They all sound impressive, but are easy to learn and play.