Eruption (instrumental)

"Eruption" is an instrumental rock[1] guitar solo performed by Eddie Van Halen. It is widely considered one of the greatest guitar solos of all time, having popularized tapping.[3][4] It segues into "You Really Got Me" on the album Van Halen, and the two songs are usually played together by radio stations. The song was also released as the b-side to the "Runnin' with the Devil" single.

Song by Van Halen
from the album Van Halen
ReleasedFebruary 10, 1978
GenreInstrumental rock,[1] hard rock[2]
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen
Producer(s)Ted Templeman

"Eruption" starts with a short accompanied intro with Alex Van Halen on drums and Michael Anthony on bass. The highlight of the solo is the use of two-handed tapping. "Eruption" was played on the Frankenstrat, with a MXR Phase 90, an Echoplex, a Univox echo unit and a 1968 Marshall 1959 Super Lead tube amp. The Sunset Sound studio reverb room was also used to add reverb. The Frankenstrat was tuned down a half-step. "Eruption" begins in the key of A flat and ends on an E flat note that is a twelfth fret, 6th string harmonic processed through a Univox EC-80 echo unit.


The "Eruption" introduction is based on the "Let Me Swim" introduction by Cactus.[5] After the intro, an E-flat major quotation of the "Etude No. 2" by Rodolphe Kreutzer is heard. The end section begins with a series of rapid two-handed tapping triads that have a classical like structure and eventually finishes with a repeated classical cadence followed by sound effects generated by a Univox EC-80 echo unit.[1]

The piece that would later be named "Eruption" had existed as part of Van Halen's stage act at least as far back as 1975, when it featured no tapping.[6] "Eruption" popularized the tapping trend of the '80s. Although one-handed tapping (hammer-ons and pull-offs) had been previously done by many guitarists, "Eruption" introduced two-handed tapping to the mainstream popular rock audience. Previously, Baroque-like tapping had been recorded by Steve Hackett of Genesis in 1971/1972.

Initially, "Eruption" was not considered as a track for the Van Halen album as it was just a guitar solo Eddie performed live in the clubs. But Ted Templeman overheard it in the studio as Eddie was rehearsing it for a club date at the Whisky a Go Go and decided to include it on the album. Eddie recalled, "I didn't even play it right. There's a mistake at the top end of it. To this day, whenever I hear it, I always think, 'Man, I could've played it better.'"[7]

"Spanish Fly", an acoustic guitar solo on Van Halen II, can be viewed as a nylon-string version of "Eruption", expanding on similar techniques. Similarly, it was suggested by Templeman for inclusion on the album after he heard Eddie Van Halen playing a classical guitar. In March 2005, Q magazine placed "Eruption" at number 29 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. "Eruption" has been named the 2nd greatest guitar solo by Guitar World magazine[8].



Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Guitar World United States 100 Greatest Guitar Solos 2009 2[8]
Q United Kingdom 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks 2005 29[9]
Rolling Stone United States 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks 2008 6[10]


  1. ^ a b c Dodds, Kevin (October 11, 2011). Edward Van Halen: A Definitive Biography. iUniverse Publishing. p. 39. ISBN 1462054803.
  2. ^ Larson, Thomas E. (2014). History of Rock and Roll. Kendall Hunt. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-4652-3886-3.
  3. ^ "Poll Results: Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption" Tops Readers' List of the …". 18 December 2013. Archived from the original on 18 December 2013.
  4. ^ "50 greatest guitar solos of all time - NME". 11 November 2017. Archived from the original on 11 November 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. ^ "Carmine Appice: 'Eddie Van Halen Seems To Be Out Of His Tree Right No…". 11 November 2017. Archived from the original on 11 November 2017.
  6. ^ "YouTube".
  7. ^ "Top '80s Songs from American Hard Rock Band Van Halen". 11 November 2017. Archived from the original on 11 November 2017.
  8. ^ a b "50 Greatest Guitar Solos".
  9. ^ "Q Magazine - 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever!". rocklistmusic. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time". Stereogum. Retrieved 3 March 2019.

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