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Writing Great Guitar Solos

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#1 bstiles

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 10:18 PM

Hey everybody! I'm a newer member on GZ, but I wanted to ask yall a question I've been getting a lot, and see what your thoughts on it were, especially newer players:


What is the hardest part about coming up with/writing a great guitar solo? It can be for an album or even just improv solo.


Thanks for any opinions :)


#2 Nealio



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Posted 10 June 2015 - 02:10 AM

Lots of things. Mostly the fact that my fingers just won't do what I want them to :lol:


Although a huge problem for me is getting stuck in a pentatonic shape. I wouldn't mind it too much, but I always end up playing the same leads over more than 1 song and it starts to get boring. It's amazing how diverse the pentatonic scale can be. Listen to the solo at the end of "Alive" by Pearl Jam. It's an E Minor / G Major pentatonic scale, and 90% of it is played in the same position. The solo itself goes on for a couple of minutes, but yet no 2 parts of it sound the same.

#3 sixgunsound

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 04:16 PM

I love when a guitar talks. I don't mean like Peter Frampton. Okay, I sort of do mean like Peter Frampton. He has to speak and play concurrently and the notes he chooses to play along with the notes he sings makes (as long as he's using that signal-mabob, his brand is Framptone) it sound good. But think Jimmy Page. Think about how Plant sings and Jimmy plays the same phrase after. Call. Response. 


There's something very primal in that sort of playing. Simply running scales works, but eventually you sound like the dude I was defending in the shred thread from a couple months ago. Mozart or someone. 


#4 dadfad



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Posted 15 June 2015 - 05:59 AM

Once you become fairly knowledgeable about several scales (where they work, the "feel" each gives give and of course where they're located on the neck) I think the best way to determine your lead-solo is to, in effect, vocalize them. Using your voice to kind of sing the notes you want to hear over the rhythm, and then play them on your guitar. It isn't as difficult as it might seem. You can mix scales, for example Hendrix often mixed the minor-pent (blues scale) with the major-pent, pivoting from one into another from common notes they shared. As you become more and more familiar with them, it'll become a sort of instantaneous thing. As you sing them (or hear them in your head) your fingers will move toward them. (You can hear Hendrix singing notes as he played them on several of his recordings, which makes me think he relied on this technique.)


The best solos (I/m/o) are those that are improvised. When you hear a great solo on a recording it was probably being improvised on the spot as he played, not from pre-written sheet-music or tab. But that recorded version became the definitive "etched in stone" solo. Probably no two takes he played were exactly alike at the recording-studio, but the producer (or artist) just chose the take he liked best for the recording.


So try to vocalize your solo over the rhythm. Your mind (and voice) knows what will sound good. And then locate them on your neck and remember when you play them it doesn't have to be exactly note-for-note as long as you're keeping the feeling and essence of what you've envisioned for your solo.

Un-plugged is not the same as never-was-plugged-in-to-begin-with.

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When the roll is called up yonder he'll be there...

#5 Dave C

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Posted 15 June 2015 - 09:52 AM



Although a huge problem for me is getting stuck in a pentatonic shape.

Oh yeh.

#6 Kyle_Imlah

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Posted 21 June 2015 - 11:11 PM

Imagination and Interpreting music. I find most blues songs quite easy to solo on jazz is a different story... knowing all the arpeggios and scales is pretty hard. Good Luck!

#7 Grandpa FrankyZ

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 04:33 AM

I just make shit up, everytime i solo in a song it's different, depends on my mood, buy i ain't no great shakes at soloing, thats why i play rhythm. I do have my moments though ;)

#8 Dave C

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 11:27 AM

I just make shit up, 

Good man.

#9 liyres

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 02:25 AM

a huge problem for me is getting stuck in a pentatonic shape




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