Why So Many Guitar Solos Sound The Same And How To Avoid That
by Tom Hess
Have you ever tried to write a guitar solo and think, “my solo is ok, but it sounds like so many other guitar solos I’ve heard before”? Why does this happen? Is it because you intentionally copied the same licks and phrases from your favorite guitar players? … Maybe, but probably not. Or is it because you are so influenced by other guitarists that you subconsciously play in a similar style so that your solos just sound too close to their style? This is closer to the truth, but probably not the true answer for most guitar players... so what is it?
The real reason why so many guitar solos tend to sound very similar to each other is due to the choices guitar players often make when creating them. For most guitar players, the process of creating guitar solos is the same.
One of these common guitar solo writing processes that guitar players use is listening to the rhythm section of the song and improvising licks and phrases until something starts to sound good. This is often how the initial ideas are created and then refined into a finished solo.
There’s nothing wrong with that approach to creating guitar solos, but the resulting solos may tend to sound similar to other solos since so many other guitar players create their guitar solos in the exact same way.
Let’s take Yngwie Malmsteen as an example. A lot of his guitar solos have a similar sound to them because the process he uses to create them is often the same. To be clear, this is not a criticism of Yngwie, it’s merely an observation. I personally love the sound of his guitar solos and cannot wait to buy the next album to hear more of the same solos that will be all over it, so I’m the last person to complain that his solos may sound very similar to guitar solos he’s written in the past. Clearly it doesn’t bother him that his solos have similar sounds to them over the years, so because he is fine with that, there is no problem in his case. However, if it bothers you that your guitar solos tend to sound very similar to other guitar solos, then you clearly do have a problem.
So what is the solution?
There are many solutions to this problem, here is one of my favorites (and extremely effective).
Step 1: Choose a vocal melody from your favorite singer.
Step 2: Learn how to play the melody ‘exactly’ as the singer sings it (not just the notes, but every little nuance of phrasing, vibrato, etc.)
Step 3: Determine what you think are the ‘most important’ structural notes in the melody, and write them down (in tab, or music notation).
Step 4: Remove the less important pitches.
Step 5: Compose a new guitar solo by keeping the most important vocal pitches intact and filling the spaces between them with guitar licks and phrases that are based around the vocal pitches.
Watch this free How To Create Guitar Solos video… Oh, by the way, I brought Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire’s singer) all the way from Italy to Chicago to sing the vocal melody for this 2-hour guitar solo master class (here is a short excerpt of it).
Once you have created many guitar solos in this way, it will become easy and natural for you to play in this new way any time you choose. The result is that your solos will sound less like your previous solos or the solos of your favorite guitar players. Your solos will also sound more naturally melodic as if they are almost ‘singing’.
Learn how to write guitar solos with great melody.
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