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 a guitar solo performed by Eddie Van Halen and the second track from Van Halen's self-titled 1978 debut album. It is widely considered one of the greatest guitar solos of all time, having popularized tapping.[3][4] It segues into a cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me", 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 an 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 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 …". December 18, 2013. Archived from the original on December 18, 2013.
  4. ^ "50 greatest guitar solos of all time - NME". NME. November 11, 2017. Archived from the original on November 11, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  5. ^ "Carmine Appice: 'Eddie Van Halen Seems To Be Out Of His Tree Right No…". November 11, 2017. Archived from the original on November 11, 2017.
  6. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Archived from the original on September 16, 2007.[dead link]
  7. ^ "Top '80s Songs from American Hard Rock Band Van Halen". November 11, 2017. Archived from the original on November 11, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "50 Greatest Guitar Solos". February 25, 2021.
  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 March 3, 2019.
  11. ^ "Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time". Stereogum. May 30, 2008. Retrieved March 3, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

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