How To Create Rock Guitar Solo And Improvisation Ideas Quickly & Easily
by Tom Hess
One of the most common problems that guitar students have with their rock guitar improvising is ‘the inability to come up with more guitar solo licks or guitar solo ideas’.
Why do so many guitar players struggle with this?
1. Many incorrectly think that great guitar solos need to consist of ‘many’ guitar licks or distinct solo ideas to sound good (this is a myth).
2. The vast majority of guitarists have very poorly developed general guitar phrasing skills that prevents them from ever sounding really AWESOME when they play guitar. This happens because they focus way too much on ‘what to play’ instead of ‘how to play’.
A long term solution to this rock guitar soloing and improvisation problem requires an in depth focus and training on both of the areas above (this is something I teach my online rock guitar students to do). You can immediately see a lot of good improvements in your ability to create guitar solo ideas simply by learning how to get more from every guitar solo lick you already know. This concept will make your improvisations sound better even without learning any ‘new’ guitar licks. I’ll show you a very simple process that can be used to develop this skill.
Here is what you need to do:
1. Find a backing track in any key that is comfortable for you to solo over.
2. Think of any guitar lick that you already know (choose a short and easy lick to play - the lick should be well within your technical ability on guitar).
3. Let the backing track start playing and begin your solo by playing the lick from step 2.
4. After playing the lick once over the track, do NOT try to think of any ‘new’ licks to play. Instead play the same lick from step 2 AGAIN, but this time create a variation on it in any of the following ways:
- Change the rhythm of the notes (while keeping the original pitches the same).
- Change the pitches of the phrase but keep the original rhythm.
- Change only the ending of the lick while keeping all other notes of it the same (this is especially good to do when the chords change in the backing track).
- Change the way you ornament the notes of the lick (by using vibrato, string bends, slides and/or other guitar phrasing ornaments).
Continue coming up with variations of the original lick by going through at least 10 possibilities of how to play it without having to come up with a completely new guitar solo idea. Of course in a real guitar solo you will not always be playing the same lick in 10 similar ways, but here I want you to go through the process of doing so intentionally, so that you explore more possibilities of improvisation ideas available to you.
5. Select a new phrase (this time you should choose a different guitar solo lick than the one in step 2) and continue the process from step 3.
6. Continue the above steps for the duration of your guitar practice time.
The above process is completely different from how most guitar players approach their rock guitar improvisations. Creating variations from a single guitar solo lick (by following the steps above) is much easier to do than trying to cram lots of new and disconnected guitar licks together while doing spontaneous improvising. In addition, this method of developing a single guitar solo idea will generally sound much better overall since you will have more chances to ornament the notes of each lick using a variety of guitar phrasing elements.
Right now you may be thinking that the approach I described sounds too simple to actually work effectively. The good news is that it IS both simple AND highly effective. I have used it to help hundreds of guitar players to start seeing dramatic improvements in their rock guitar improvisations. To see a demonstration of this approach to creating guitar solo ideas in action (and to witness for yourself the immediate and dramatic results it can produce in your guitar soloing), watch this rock guitar improvisation video.
Get better at playing rock guitar solos with online rock guitar lessons.