When you create guitar solos, do you feel like you are just repeating the same ideas you have already played over and over? Does it seem that you are copying the same solos from others guitarists that you listen to? This is the unfortunate reality for most guitar players. Many musicians get into certain habits that cause them to create guitar solos that all feel and sound the same. So, what are these habits, and how can you learn to come up with more creative guitar solos?
The reason why many guitarists continually make guitar solos that sound the same, is because they consistently use the same method for creating their solos.
The majority of guitar players approach solos in the following way: they will listen to the chords or riffs they are supposed to play over, and then improvise some melodies until something feels right. This process continues until the guitar solo is complete. Does this sound familiar to you?
Unfortunately, using the same guitar soloing approach as everyone else can only lead to one result: a guitar solo that has a very similar sound to nearly every other guitar solo out there. Although a lot of good music can (and has been) created in this way, it is important to also be aware of the limitations of this guitar soloing method.
To illustrate a point let's use a very well known guitar player: Yngwie Malmsteen. Yngwie is known worldwide as one of the best solo guitar players. Most of the time his guitar soloing has the same consistent sound due to the same consistent method he uses to compose his solos. However, Yngwie has been playing guitar at a high level for many years and is obviously satisfied with the way he plays, so the fact that his solos are similar is not an issue for him and his millions of fans (such as myself). With that said, if you are not satisfied with how your guitar solos sound, then you obviously do have an issue that must be fixed.
So what is a good way to solve this issue? In this article I will focus on one of the more innovative guitar soloing methods that I have found to work with great success.
Take a listen to all of the singers that you enjoy listening to and choose one. You will now compose a guitar solo based on the way the singer sings his/her melodies. There exist many ways to go about doing this, and I'm going to give you one of them here. I will also provide you with a free video to watch (below) that will give a live guitar solo demonstration. This approach consists of five steps:
Step One: Select a great vocal melody from any song by your favorite singer.
Step Two: Focus on playing that vocal line (on guitar) in the same way that the singer sings it. Be very precise here, and pay attention to detail in your guitar playing (in other words, don't simply "play the notes" - focus on mimicking the subtle details of phrasing and nuance in how the notes are sung).
Step Three: Once you can play the melody in a very articulate manner, pick out the notes that seem to be the strongest points of the melody. Write these notes down in some form.
Step Four: Cut out all of the rest of the pitches and focus only on the most important notes identified in Step Three above.
Step Five: Write a guitar solo by having the notes you picked stay as they are. Then, make new guitar runs and phrasing based on the notes to fit in between them.
To see how these five steps can be applied in your guitar practicing, watch this free video on how to write great guitar solos.
Oh, and I should also mention that I flew in Fabio Lione (Singer for Rhapsody Of Fire) from Europe just so he could provide incredible vocals in my master class for guitar solos. You can see a short sample of this in the above video.
The more you practice the method described in this article, the better you will get at playing melodic guitar solos whenever you want. You will see great improvement as your guitar solos stop sounding like all the other solos you've already heard, and start to take on their own distinct sound.
Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches, trains and mentors musicians from around the world.