How To Play Better Guitar Solos Than You Ever Imagined Possible Part 2: Improving 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 guitar solos better:
Option 1: Add new notes to the guitar solo.
Option 2: Play different notes (or different licks).
Good guitarists also have a 3rd option:
Option 3: Break down guitar solos and refine the phrasing of each lick in them - one note at a time. (This means improving how you play the notes.)
When you improve your phrasing, your guitar solos 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 guitar solos.
Watch this video to see one example:
Ready to use these options to improve your guitar playing?
Choose a guitar solo you want improve and apply the techniques below to the licks in that guitar solo.
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
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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 guitar solos sound better is by using creative guitar bends.
I know what you are thinking:
“Guitar bends??? I already know about guitar bends!”
Yes, guitar 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”, watch this video to learn new guitar bends guitarists don’t know:
Now let’s improve your guitar solos using creative guitar bends.
There are many ways to do it (that are really fun). Below are 3 of my favorite variations of guitar bends. They sound great & are easy to play:
Play Better Guitar Solos Technique #1: Using Guitar Bends To Shape Your Licks
Step 1: Choose one guitar lick in any of your memorized guitar solos.
Step 2: Look for opportunities to connect some of the notes in that lick with guitar bends.
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.
Play Better Guitar Solos Technique #2: Using Guitar Bends At Different Speeds
Here is how most guitarists bend strings during guitar solos:
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 guitar solos by changing the speed of your guitar 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 guitar solo and repeat this process.
Watch this video to see how to vary the speed of your guitar bends during guitar solos to make your playing more emotional:
Play Better Guitar Solos Technique #3: Using Pre-Bends
What does it mean to pre-bend a note?
Pre-bending means you only hear the release of your guitar bends.
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 guitar solo & create dozens of cool variations for each phrase.
Now, decide which variations you like best and record a new version of your guitar solo using these variations.
Compare the original guitar solo with the new version & ask yourself which one you like better.
You now saw how simple it is to make your guitar solos sound better.
The next step is to master all other areas of your lead playing and play guitar solos like you always wanted. 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 play guitar solos expressively with electric guitar lessons online.