How To Play Better Guitar Solos Than You Ever Imagined Possible Part 2: Improving Your Guitar Solos Lick By Lick
By Tom Hess
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
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Playing mediocre guitar solos that sound nothing like you want them to sound.
What’s the number #1 reason you may feel unhappy with your guitar solos?
It is: limited options.
Here is what I mean:
Average guitarists have only 2 options to make their solos better:
Option 1: Add new notes to the solo.
Option 2: Play different notes (or different licks).
Good guitarists also have a 3rd option:
Option 3: Break down an existing guitar solo and refine the phrasing of each lick - one note at a time. (This means improving how you play the notes.)
When you improve your phrasing, your solo will always sound better. Every time.
GREAT guitarists use options 1-3 and also have Option 4:
Option 4: Silence. Yep. Sometimes silence is the most creative thing you can “play” in a guitar solo.
Watch this video to see one example:
Ready to use these options to improve your guitar playing?
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
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(The solo can either be your own or someone else's.)
If you don’t know any guitar solos or licks, use these short licks in the key of C major/A minor:
Here are a few short licks for you in the key of C major/A minor:
The easiest way to make any lick sound better is by using string bend variations.
I know what you are thinking:
“String bends??? This is such a simple technique, I already know how to bend strings!”
Yes, string bends are simple and you probably already know how to bend strings. But how many ways to bend strings do you know?
If your answer is: “less than 10”, there is a big a opportunity to improve your guitar playing very quickly.
Watch this video to learn many new ways to bend strings most guitarists don’t know:
Now let’s improve your guitar solos using string bends. There are many ways to do it (that are really fun). Below are 3 of my favorite string bending variations. They sound great & are easy to play:
Guitar Solo Improvement Technique #1: Using Bends To Shape Your Guitar Licks
Step 1: Choose one guitar lick in your solo.
Step 2: Look for opportunities to connect some of the notes in that lick with a bend.
Note: Make sure that the bend keeps the note in tune.
Step 3 (optional): Add vibrato to the string bend.
Want to hear how steps 2 and 3 sound together? Check out the example below (you hear 2 variations of “Lick 2”):
Example – Hear It
The first variation has vibrato on the 3rd note (on top of the bend) and the second variation doesn't.
Step 4: Repeat steps 2-3 on different notes in the lick to create more variations.
Step 5: Repeat steps 2-3 with other licks in your guitar solo.
Guitar Solo Improvement Technique #2: Using Bends At Different Speeds
Here is how most guitarists bend strings:
They pick a note and immediately bend up to the target pitch.
It sounds like this: Hear It (listen for the bend on the 3rd note)
So what’s wrong with this approach?
However: you can add more variety to your solos by changing the speed of your string bends.
Here is one way to do it:
Step 1: Select one lick from your guitar solo. Choose two notes within that lick (that are 1-2 frets apart on the fretboard).
Step 2: Begin your bend slowly until it is halfway to its target note.
Step 3: Speed up the bend to quickly reach the target pitch.
Step 4 (optional): Apply heavy vibrato to the note you are on. Here is an example: Hear It
Step 5: Move on to the next lick in your solo and repeat this process.
Watch this video to see more examples of how to vary the speed of your string bends and make your playing sound more emotional:
Guitar Solo Improvement Technique #3: Using Pre-Bends
What does it mean to pre-bend a note?
Pre-bending means you only hear the release of the bend.
It’s done like this:
Bend any note (without picking it). Then pick the string and release the bend.
Here is an example: Hear It
How can you use this?
Select any note within your guitar lick and ornament it with a pre-bend. Experiment and find which note(s) of the lick sound best with a pre-bend. Example: Hear It
(Listen for the slow pre-bend on the first note of the lick.)
Go through the rest of your solo & create dozens of cool variations for each phrase.
Now, decide which variations you like best and record a new version of your solo using these variations.
Compare the original solo with the new version & ask yourself which one you like better.
You now saw how simple it is to make any guitar solo sound better. The next step is to master all other areas of your lead playing and become the guitarist you always wished you could be. Download this free guitar solo eGuide and start playing guitar solos you feel proud to call your own.
About 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 how to become a great guitarist fast by taking electric guitar lessons online.