Jack White's Top 10 Solos

By Sergio Ariza

Jack White is clearly not the fastest, nor the most melodic guitarist in the world, but he is certainly the most identifiable guitarist of the 21st century. He is a man with a sound of his own who can be considered one of the last 'guitar heroes' of rock who, in addition, has the blessing of his idols, people like Jimmy Page and Iggy Pop. From Guitars Exchange we want to highlight some of his best solos, solos that, in his own words, are "attacks" in which each note he plays is a like a punch, although they could also be described as the sound equivalent of an electric shock of thousands of volts; something like being struck by lightning. 

The White Stripes - Death Letter (Live Blackpool)

Jack White's life changed when he discovered the great Son House, one of the Delta's blues fathers, and became a lifelong blues freak. The White Stripes’ first album was dedicated to him but it would be in the second, De Stijl, where he would pay his most heartfelt tribute with this brutal cover of his Death Letter, a song that serves as a perfect example of his first style, in which he breathes fresh air into the genre, combining classicism with punk rebellion. For this he uses his main guitar for the slide parts, a 50s Kay Archtop, and takes all the juice out of it, squeezing it with such energy and rawness that it seems incredible that it is still in one piece at the end of this incredible live version in Blackpool in 2004.


The White Stripes - Ball and Biscuit

Until the last album of the White Stripes, Jack only used three guitars with the band, the aforementioned Archtop, a Japanese red Crestwood Astral II tuned in an open E, which he used on a couple of songs at the beginning of his career, and his Airline "JB Hutto" Res-O-Glass red, that is most linked to him. Not surprisingly, this was the guitar he used in Ball And Biscuit's three solos, which are the most perfect definition of his style and his best moment as a guitarist. Elephant's eighth song begins as a more or less usual blues number up to one minute and 48 seconds when White slits his throat with the Airline performing one of the most incendiary solos of the last 20 years. This is a feedback storm in which he doesn't play but attacks his strings with the intensity of a predator, playing with the 'calm/tempest' formula of the Pixies or Nirvana but using it in the blues. But the epitome may be in the third, and last, solo, around the five-minute mark, where he doesn't play notes but more like punches a jaw, getting the ultimate KO.


The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army

It's impossible to talk about Jack White and not talk about his most famous song, Seven Nation Army. It's almost like a cliché but it's understandable if we think that, in a century in which rock has gone from being the main current to 'underground', this riff could be heard in any stadium in the world, being as iconic as its famous relatives of the twentieth century, like Smoke On The Water, Satisfaction or Whole Lotta Love. But on that riff White also builds a solo slide as simple and effective as the song itself. Although on the iconic video he appears with the Airline he recorded it, as with almost all his slide parts, with the Kay and the effects of one of his favorite pedals, the Digitech Whammy WH-4.


The White Stripes - Black Math

Another of the songs that appeared on Elephant, White's great masterpiece. Black Math perfectly combines his punk impulses in a hard rock context. Here he uses again the 64 red Airline, a guitar made by the company Valco, the same that also made the National and Supro, until it had to close in 1968. The solo is a new demonstration of the arsenal of tricks and effects that White pulls out of his sleeve as easily as a magician pulls rabbits out of his hat.


The White Stripes - Icky Thump

Icky Thump
was the sixth and last studio album by the White Stripes, a return to the more direct rock, to the punk blues of their beginnings but with a much more classic pose and using more instruments. After experiments with the piano, acoustics and marimbas of Get Behind Me Satan and power pop flirtations with the Raconteurs, Icky Thump's riff showed that White was back to hard rock. The solo of this song is one of the oddest and most groundbreaking of his career, a collection of bewildering and strange sounds in which he plays one of his favorite pedals: the Electro-Harmonix Poly Octave Generator, with a totally brilliant result.


The White Stripes - 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues

The beginning of this song could lead to misunderstandings, with its acoustic calm, possibly with his Gibson L-1 of 1915, and its disturbing tranquility. A calm that will be hit on three occasions by three electric aggressions, three bursts of enormous intensity and brevity that serve as a perfect example of those electric discharges of which we spoke at the beginning. 


The White Stripes - You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)

Icky Thump's
third single is one of the best songs of White's career but many forget that, in addition to being absolutely catchy, it contains one of the most significant solos of his career at the end of it. Despite the fact that in the video he is playing his Gretsch Falcon Rancher, those strange high-pitched sounds that explode like little bombs may come from his beloved Airline, if we follow his live versions.


The White Stripes - Catch Hell Blues

Another demonstration of his incredible style with the slide. Catch Hell Blues is, basically, a vehicle for the exhibition of his powerful 'licks' and his aggressive solos with the slide. The Kay suffers another vicious attack by its owner.


The Raconteurs - Blue Veins (Live at Montreux 2008)

Blue Veins
closed the first album by the Raconteurs, White's parallel project, called Broken Boy Soldier. If with this album White gave free rein to his more 'power pop' side, its closure was an everlasting blues that came to life in its extensive live versions, in which the guitarist had the absolute freedom to improvise with his Gretsch Anniversary Jr, a guitar strongly modified by the lutier Randy Parsons that would be used heavily during his time in the Raconteurs. Listening to this 2008 live version, one can see the parallels between White and the more 'bluesy' Page.


Jack White - Lazaretto

was White's second solo album, released in 2014, after the remarkable Blunderbuss of 2012. The title song contained one of his most innovative and complex solos to date. For his recording he used his 'Triple Jet' Copper Guitar, a copper guitar that Parsons built for him with three pickups and an MXR Micro Amp inside.