How To Play Guitar Solos Expressively In No Time

by Tom Hess

Does it seem like some guitarists just have “It” when it comes to playing guitar solos expressively and creatively? Why does this seem to be the case?

One big reason:

Some guitar players practice guitar phrasing and start playing very expressively while others never do and end up frustrated for a long time.

So what is guitar phrasing and why is it so important for expressive guitar solos?


Guitar phrasing is HOW you play notes on guitar.

Solos that do not have decent phrasing often sound more like exercises, licks strung together or just repeated memorized licks.

This doesn’t sound very expressive at all…

Use this simple approach to get started playing more unique and expressive ideas on guitar:

Make it your goal to make your guitar licks as voice-like as possible (like the melodies of a singer).

Make your guitar licks memorable, expressive and more melodic.

Here is a simple way to do it in a short period of time:

  1. Think of 3-5 songs you like with great, expressive vocal lines.
  2. Transcribe several vocal lines from these songs onto guitar, expressing every subtlety as best as you can.
  3. Now, create 5 variations of each vocal line you transcribed using expressive techniques like vibrato, bending or legato.

Do this for just 15 minutes daily and in 1 week or less your guitar solos take on a more melodic and expressive tone.

Now that you know how to make your guitar solos sound more expressive and melodic, use these additional tips to get even better:

How To Create Lead Guitar Licks

Guitar Solos Tip #1 –Focus Less On Memorizing Tons Of Guitar Scales

Many guitar players learn tons of scales or fretboard patterns in an attempt to become more creative.

Problem is, creativity doesn’t come from knowing a lot of scales – this is only potential for creativity. This just gives you more potential options.  However, this assumes you have some basic phrasing skills.

Instead, focus on playing creatively with the scales or skills you’ve already mastered at first. Build from this foundation and avoid overwhelming yourself with too much information.

Guitar Solos Tip #2 – Don't Always Come Back To The Same Licks

Memorizing a ton of cool licks isn't going to make your creative while soloing either.

Instead, doing this causes you to rely on memorized patterns rather than truly thinking creatively in the moment during your guitar solos.

Focus on learning how different notes of a scale feel over the chords within the key. This helps you start to hear notes before you play them - a staple for expressive guitar solo licks.

Guitar Solos Tip #3 – Integrate Your Guitar Skills Together

You don't have to master a skill to the highest degree before moving onto improving your other skills.

For instance, a lot of guitar players can play advanced techniques with speed but practiced integrating them together with phrasing. This causes them to play boring, exercise-like guitar solos that don't sound musical.

The solution to this common problem is to spend less time practicing your skills in isolation from each other and more time integrating your skills together.

Apply the concepts you learned here to create musical tension in guitar solos.

Tom HessAbout Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.

Learn even more powerful ways to become a better lead guitarist by taking electric guitar internet lessons.

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