How To Instantly Turn An Average Lead Guitar Solo Into A Great One Using Backslides

by Tom Hess

The Secret To Adding Fire &
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
The Secret To Adding Fire And Emotion To Your Guitar Playing e-Book

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I'm about to reveal to you one of my all-time favorite lead guitar solo techniques to add fire and emotion to any lead guitar solo.

The lead guitar technique is called:


What are backslides?

A backslide is a guitar solo phrasing trick that consists of 3 steps:

1. You play a note in your guitar solo

2. You slide away from that note (up or down), to add guitar phrasing to it.

3. You slide back to the note you started from and continue playing your guitar solo.

And no, backslides are NOT the same guitar solo phrasing element as "descending slides". A descending slide happens when you slide to any note from a higher pitch.

Descending slides don't have 3 parts like backslides do.

The Secret To Adding Fire &
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
The Secret To Adding Fire And Emotion To Your Guitar Playing e-Book

By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Tom Hess Music Corporation who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.

Backslides are easier to demonstrate (and play) than they are to explain… here is a lead guitar solo lesson video showing you how to do backslides with many examples:

Want to know other guitar phrasing techniques that are just as simple as backslides that can add fire to your guitar solos?

Check these out:

Lead Guitar Phrasing Technique #1: Pinch Harmonics

Pinch harmonics are fun to use in any guitar solo and they are an example of guitar phrasing technique you can combine with backslides. This makes your lead guitar playing sound better right away.

Watch this video where I show you how to pinch harmonics the easy way to make any guitar solo scream with emotion:

How do you combine pinch harmonics with backslides when you play a guitar solo?

Simple: play a note you will do backslides from and articulate it with a pinch harmonic first. Then do backslides from it. You can also do backslides first and end them with a pinch harmonic. 

Question: "Tom Hess, does it matter how many frets I slide up to when doing backslides in my guitar solo?" 

Answer: Not at all. That is the beauty of backslides as a guitar phrasing element. When you use backslides in a guitar solo, you can slide up as many frets as you want. Nobody's ear is so good that they'll notice how many frets you are slide up to. Backslides are always a guitar phrasing ornament of a single note - they are not 3 different notes.

And they are to be done fast. Keep this in mind when you work on your guitar phrasing. 

Lead Guitar Phrasing Technique #2: Delayed Resolution

Music is about 2 things: tension and resolution.

When you delay resolution of a lead guitar lick, you build more tension. And this forces your listeners to pay attention to your guitar solo.

Here is a simple example of using delayed resolution with backslides in your lead guitar solo playing:

Play any guitar solo note you want to ornament with backslides. (For example: fret 7 on the G string.)

Quickly slide away from it (as you do when playing regular backslides). Then slide back to a note 1 fret below your original note (For example: fret 6 on the G string) and slowly bend up to the 7th fret.

That’s an example of building tension in your guitar solo.

And you combine 2 guitar solo phrasing techniques in your lead guitar playing: backslides and string bends. 

It can be as simple as that.

They key to delaying the resolution (as a guitar phrasing idea) is to slow down the string bends. This adds a ton of musical tension to your guitar solo and makes your guitar phrasing sound more dramatic.

Bonus lead guitar tip for your next guitar solo:

Simply delay the release of the bend. Slow it down and don’t give your listeners the satisfaction of hearing the bent note come down all the way. (More on this below.) This is one of my favorite guitar phrasing tricks ever.

Check out this video to see and hear delayed resolution in action.

Lead Guitar Phrasing Technique #3: Delayed Vibrato

Most guitarists do vibrato instantly in their lead guitar playing. Meaning: they play a note in a guitar solo and instantly add vibrato to it.

What’s wrong with this? Nothing – except if you do it all the time, your guitar phrasing (and the rest of your lead guitar playing) starts to sound boring.

You can add variety to your vibrato by delaying it sightly. Here is how:

Step 1: Play any note in your guitar solo .

Step 2: Let the note ring (with no vibrato) for 1-2 seconds.

Step 3: Add vibrato to the note.

Watch this video to see and hear how to do delayed vibrato:

This is similar to how (rock) singers often do vibrato.

As an aside, you can improve your guitar solos by studying great singers. What you do is: transcribe their vocal melodies on your guitar…

… and focus on matching the nuances of their phrasing (of which delayed vibrato is one).

How To Play Amazing Guitar Solos

Now, I know you are thinking:

What does all this have to do with backslides? 

The answer is: you can combine backslides with delayed vibrato to add more drama to all your guitar phrasing. This makes your guitar solos sound way more expressive.

Lead Guitar Phrasing Technique #4: Use Dramatic String Bends In Your Guitar Solos

You can add a ton of drama to your string bends by exaggerating the release of each bend.

This can happen before, during or after using backslides in a guitar solo.

Here is how:

- Use more pre-bends as part of your guitar phrasing arsenal. This means: bends the string first (without picking it). Then play the note when the string is bent and only sound the release.

This almost makes the note sound like it’s crying.

- Slow down the release of the string bend. The release cannot be too slow – it can only be too fast.

Watch this video to see what I mean:

Bonus tip: rest your thumb on the lower (in pitch) strings when you do string bends. This keeps the lower strings from ringing out and keeps your playing clean.

Also, you can minimize string noise even more when you use your index finger (of the fretting hand) to mute the higher in pitch strings.

Don't barre the strings or use any pressure. Just rest the finger lightly on the strings to keep them from vibrating.

It looks like this:

Muting guitar string with thumb finger

The idea is to combine these guitar phrasing ornaments (with backslides) to build your lead guitar arsenal of expressive guitar phrasing techniques.

As you use them in one guitar solo after another, you start to build your unforgettable lead guitar soloing style that sounds  like you.

Lead Guitar Phrasing Technique #5: Rubato

Rubato is one of my all-time favorite guitar phrasing techniques.

It makes every lead guitar solo you play as unique to you as your fingerprints.

Here is why:

There are only 12 notes in a chromatic scale and a relatively small number of rhythmic divisions of a beat.

And all 12 notes and all rhythmic divisions of the beat have been used in countless songs and guitar solos.

That means: it's impossible to create a unique lead guitar style by relying on note choices alone. And it's very hard to be creative in your guitar phrasing if all you do is play strict divisions of the beat in your lead guitar licks.

Enter: rubato.

Rubato lets you “create” new and unpredictable guitar phrasing using rhythm. This adds a lot more variety to every lead guitar lick or solo you play.

Learn how to play amazing lead guitar licks using rubato by watching this guitar solo video:

Question: “Tom Hess, are you saying we should all try to be as original as possible?”

Answer: No, not at all. I'm only saying that if you want to put more uniqueness into your solos, rubato will help (a lot).

And no, I’m not saying standard divisions of the beat are bad or that you should avoid them.

Only that rubato adds a heck of a lot more musical options you’d never have otherwise.

Now that you know how to add more fire & emotion to your guitar licks, I want to help you transform the rest of your guitar playing (for free). To do that, I give you:

4 Pillars Of Guitar Mastery That Let Almost Anyone Play Lead Guitar As Well As They Want

This isn’t a magic pill.

But I’ve used these 4 pillars with hundreds of students who now play lead guitar at very advanced levels.

And many of them practice guitar less than 1 hour per day - doing very specific things that make their fast progress possible.

You can start using these 4 pillars in your practicing today, if you want. And it’s free.

Check out:

Want to get the same results in your playing to make every guitar solo a great one? I can help you with this in my Breakthrough Guitar Lessons online. Click the green "Start Now" button below to learn more.

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.

Love the sound of backslides? This is just the beginning. Become the lead guitar player you’ve always wanted to be with the most proven rock guitar lessons online.

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