Eruption (instrumental)

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Instrumental by Van Halen
from the album Van Halen
Released1978 (1978)
LabelWarner Bros.
Producer(s)Ted Templeman

"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 and in concert. The song was later included as the B-side to the group's second single, "Runnin' with the Devil".

Composition and recording[edit]

"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][better source needed] Although one-handed tapping (hammer-ons and pull-offs) was standard guitar technique, "Eruption" introduced two-handed tapping to the mainstream popular rock audience, and it was a popular soloing option throughout the 1980s.

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] Chuck Klosterman of named it the best Van Halen song, noting "if you love Van Halen, this is what you love, and you can listen to it a thousand times without diminishing returns."[9]



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[10]
Rolling Stone United States 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks 2008 6[11]


  1. ^ a b c Dodds, Kevin (October 11, 2011). Edward Van Halen: A Definitive Biography. iUniverse Publishing. p. 39. ISBN 978-1462054800.
  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".[dead link]
  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. ^ Klosterman, Chuck (October 6, 2020). "All 131 Van Halen Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best A look back at the band's formidable legacy". Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  10. ^ "Q Magazine - 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever!". rocklistmusic. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time". Stereogum. Retrieved 3 March 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]