“Don’t Come Back Here Until You Learn To Make Your Guitar Solos Sing” – How To Play Expressive Lead Guitar Solos

by Tom Hess


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Those were the final words said to me as I left an audition for a band I wanted to join back in the early 1990s. I felt disappointed at the time because I didn’t get that gig, however, it was one of the best pieces of musical advice I was ever given. The problem was, back then I had no idea what it really meant or “how to learn to make my lead guitar solos sing”.

But soon after that, I began to study my favorite singers by simply paying very close attention to exactly how they were singing notes, their vocal phrasing, their vibrato and other nuances. Next, I began transcribing their vocal melodies to improve my lead guitar solos.


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Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
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Figuring out the right notes wasn’t difficult. However, trying to ‘perfectly’ re-create every little nuance of their phrasing/vibrato into my guitar solos was much more challenging.

In 1998, I heard the first Rhapsody Of Fire album and was completely blown away by the most amazing singer I had ever heard (Fabio Lione). I devoured the album (and over the years, more of the band’s vocal melodies and Fabio’s phrasing. I learned every single little nuance in those vocal parts.

The most important thing I learned for creating lead guitar solos of my own was this:

It’s not about what was being sung, it was about why singers were making the musical choices they made over the music that mattered most. For example, why do great singers use different types of vibrato, why they sometimes delay the vibrato before applying it to a note, how they choose which notes to use vibrato on and which ones not. This was something I had never thought about before, but once I did, my own lead guitar solos immediately improved.

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In early 2011, Rhapsody Of Fire asked me to join the band. My lead guitar phrasing skills were a key factor in why the band liked my style.

So, how do you play expressive lead guitar solos with this information?

As a guitar player, making your lead guitar solos ‘sing’ is an invaluable thing to learn because of its expressive power. Another huge benefit of this is that you begin to think like both a guitar player and a singer which results in a totally new and fresh approach to composing guitar solos that ‘sing’.

For example, take a vocal melody that you like from one of your favorite singers, then learn the nuances of the phrasing and vibrato. Then compose lead guitar solos with those types of vocal elements.

To see this in action, watch this “how to create guitar solos that sing video”. You will see and hear how I quickly composed lead guitar solos using these ideas.



Ready to improve your lead guitar playing fast? Learn more about writing guitar solos that sing.

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