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Playing Your First Solo

Welcome to video ten in the Lead Guitar Quick-Start Series. In this lesson, I’m going to teach you your first guitar solo, which incorporates everything I’ve gone over in this series so far. I’ve kept the solo pretty simple, using the scales you’re already learned.

If you’re jumping into the Lead Guitar Quick-Start Series with this video, I recommend heading back to the first lesson and starting from the beginning. In the earlier videos, we covered all the techniques and skills used in this solo.

For your solo, we’ll be using the major scale, the major pentatonic scale, and the minor pentatonic scale, but we’ll be moving the minor pentatonic scale shape from a G minor pentatonic up the fretboard to an E minor pentatonic scale shape. You may want to spend some time practicing the scale in this new position before continuing.

I’ve got a new jam track for you to play this solo with, and it’s 24 bars long. The first 16 bars are over a G major chord, then two bars of E minor, two bars of G major, two bars of E minor, and you’ll finish off bar 23 and 24 on a G major. Listen to this jam track a few times to get a feel for the music. The 24 bars are repeated four times so it’s easy to practice the solo over and over.

I’ll break this solo down one phrase at a time, so you can learn step by step. The first lick starts with a major scale, so place your third finger on the fourth fret of the G string and bend that note. Come back to the second fret, and then place your fourth finger on the fifth fret of the D string. Use the roll technique to move your pinky up to the A string, hold it for six beats, and then rest. That’s the first lick of your solo, and it’s the repeating theme that I mentioned in the last lesson.

The next phrase starts with the same bend again on the G string, and moves to the fifth fret. Move to the third fret of the B string with your second finger, hit the same note again for six beats, and rest. This second lick, paired with the first lick, makes up the first sentence of the solo.

The second sentence starts with the repeating theme, so play the first lick of the solo again. After that, the next phrase starts out the same, but will end with a quick pentatonic run. Bend the fourth fret of the G string again, but from there, hit the second fret of the D string with your first finger, then the fourth fret with your third finger. Move to the B string, grabbing the third fret with your second finger, the fifth fret with your pinky, and end with the G root note on the third fret of the high E string with your second finger. That wraps up this phrase and the second sentence of the solo.

Remember that when you’re holding a note for a few beats you should add some vibrato to give the note more expression. Feel free to pause wherever you like to practice sections of the solo together before moving on.

Up to this point in the jam track, we’ve been playing to a G major chord, and that’s why we’ve been playing G major scales. The next two measures switch to an E minor chord, so we’ll switch to an E minor pentatonic scale that way our solo fits the music we’re playing to. Remember though that we’re moving this scale shape up the fretboard to the 12th fret of the low E string.

This next lick is an E minor pentatonic scale, and we’re going to play through this scale. Pick the first note of the scale, hammer-on to the 15th fret, pick the 13th fret of the A string, hammer-on to the 15th fret, pick the 13th fret of the D string, and hammer-on to the 15th fret. Finish off this lick by picking the 12th fret of the G string and the E root note on the 14th note of the D string. That’s measure 17 and 18, the first whole phrase of this sentence.

Now we have two measures of a G chord to play over, so we’re going to come down on the 12th fret of the G string, which is the G root note. You’ll play this note for a full bar, and again for another full bar, which is measures 19 and 20.

Measures 21 and 22 are back on the E minor chord, so we’ll start playing with our E minor pentatonic scale again. We’re going to repeat the first E minor lick we played, but go an octave higher by starting on the 14th fret this time. Walk up the pentatonic scale, and when you get to the highest note, come back to the root note on the 14th fret of the high E string.

Measures 23 and 24 are played over the G major chord again, so we’ll go back to a G major scale, starting an octave higher on the 15th fret. Put your pinky on the 17th fret of the high E string, bend it up a whole step, and then play the G root note on the 15th fret with your middle finger. That’s going to finish the last sentence, and wrap up your solo.

Once you’ve learned this solo, pull up the jam track so you can play your solo over music. After that, you can experiment using different scales along with the jam track to make up your own solos. Just be sure to match up your scale with the key that’s being played on the jam track.

Don’t forget to use all the tips from the last video, like phrasing, creating dynamic solos, emphasizing the root note, and everything else you’ve learned. Check out my solo at the end of the video to get some ideas of what you’ll be able to do with consistent practice.

In the next lesson we will go over some other major pentatonic scale shapes.