How To Play A Guitar Solo
Welcome to video nine in the Lead Guitar Quick-Start Series. In this lesson, I’m going to give you some tips for building your own guitar solos. These tips will help you create solos that sound like more than just playing up and down basic scales. We’re going to cover concepts such as phrasing, repeating themes, leaving space, building your solos dynamically, and playing over simple chord changes.
If you’re joining this series for the first time, I definitely recommend going back to the first lesson and working through all the videos in the Lead Guitar Quick-Start Series because a lot of the foundational skills we’re using are covered throughout those lessons.
The first concept I want to talk about is phrasing, because it’s good to structure your solo like you’re having a conversation with someone. If I’m talking to someone, I don’t run all my sentences together in a monotonous tone because that wouldn’t make much sense and wouldn’t be very interesting. That would be the same as playing a guitar solo that just runs up and down a scale.
When you’re talking to someone, you leave pauses, have inflections in your voice, and have rest times where you wait for a moment. Sometimes you want your guitar solos to be the same way. Your solo can be more interesting if you pause here and there and build inflections in your playing.
The next idea I want to talk to you about is having a repeating theme in your solo. You won’t always have a repeating theme in your solo, but it’s nice to have a recurring theme in your solo. The theme will help tie everything in your solo together, giving it a cohesive feel. Repeating a theme will also help you with your phrasing because it leaves natural pauses in your solo. In the next lesson you’ll see a great example because there’s an obvious repeating theme in the solo I’ve written for you.
Something that’s hard for guitarists is to leave space between notes, because we’re used to practicing scales and we naturally want to play through them quickly. Be sure to sometimes leave some space in your solos to keep your audience engaged and keep them dialed in to your music. In the solo you’ll be learning, you’ll play the recurring theme, leave a space, and then play the theme again.
Building your solos dynamically is another way to make your solos interesting and keep your listeners engaged. That could mean you start your solo quietly, slowly build it up, and then by the end, it’s natural to end off with a faster lick or a higher volume.
This won’t be the case with every solo you play, but keeping dynamics in mind is a great tool to pull out, especially if you’re playing a song that is emotional or you want to end off with a crescendo. If you think about it like an action movie, there are still down times during the movie so that the action really stands out.
The next tip I have for you is to start playing over chord changes, meaning you should be changing the notes you play in your solo to fit with the chords that are happening in your song. In the next lesson, the two chords we have in the jam track for your solo are G major and E minor, so we’ll adjust our notes according to those chords. When the G major chord is playing, we’ll use G major and G major pentatonic scales. When the E minor is playing, we’ll switch to an E minor pentatonic scale to match. That’s going to be an easy example to begin with, so it’s perfect for starting to think about notes you’re going to play rather than just playing up and down one scale.
Those are a few general, useful tips for building your solo that will come in handy throughout the next lesson, and the rest of your guitar-playing career. Of course, you won’t use these tips in every solo you play, but they’re really helpful for making your solos sound more musical, and not like you’re just practicing scales.
In the next lesson, like I’ve already mentioned, we’re going to learn your first guitar solo that I’ve written out for you. If you have any questions about the concepts I’ve taught you today, leave me a comment below. See you in the next lesson!