Guitar Solos: Is Only 4 Notes Really Enough?

There is a simple question that seems to separate guitarists depending on the genre of music they are playing, and that is: How many notes are enough to play a guitar solo?

If you were to ask someone who plays the blues, they might be of the "less is more" opinion. If you were to ask someone who likes to shred on the guitar, they might side with the view point of Yngwie who didn't think less was more, but rather "More is more!".

When it comes playing to music, the amount notes one chooses to play is entirely up to the one who its playing. So I am not here to try and say who is right and who is wrong in this debate.

If you ask me, I think neither side is wrong. It's important to be intentional about your note choices, as blues players are. But it's also good not to put limits on your technical playing, as the shredders are mindful of.

What I am going to share with you today is an exercise you can use to begin choosing your notes more wisely. How are we going to do that? By limiting the amount of notes are are able to play over a given chord. This doesn't mean reducing the speed at which you will play them. In fact, you can still very much "shred" using only a handful of notes.

Who is this video for? Well I believe blues players can use this challenge to take their limited note use to the next level. The shredders can learn how to get the most out of the notes that they choose. While everyone else can learn to develop their skills, no matter what level of playing they are currently at.

Check out my 4-note challenge here:

This is only the beginning of what you can do with just 4 notes (I wanted to keep the video brief). I encourage you to take what I talked about and put your own spin on it!

Tommaso Zillio is a professional prog rock/metal guitarist and composer based in Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Tommaso is currently working on an instrumental CD, and an instructional series on fretboard visualization and exotic scales. He is your go-to guy for any and all music theory-related questions.

Tommaso Zillio