How To Play Amazing Guitar Solos - Part 1
by Tom Hess
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
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Playing faster or more difficult guitar licks does not make your solos sound better - improving your phrasing does.
Phrasing is the art of playing notes as expressively as possible. When you have great phrasing, everything you play sounds amazing every time.
Watch this video to learn easy ways to improve your guitar phrasing and make your guitar solos sound better:
Here is how to practice phrasing and play awesome guitar solos that express what you hear in your head:
Guitar Soloing Tip #1: Study Techniques Of Great Singers
Your guitar playing improves fast when you study vocal techniques of great singers and use these techniques in your guitar playing.
Singers cannot sing as many notes as guitar players can play. This means they have to make every single note sound as expressive as possible.
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
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When you do the same in your guitar playing, your licks begin to sound better even if you don't play anything fast or difficult.
Watch this video to see how to use vocal techniques in your guitar playing:
Guitar Soloing Tip #2: Grab Attention With The Very First Note Of Your Guitar Solo
The quickest way to grab your listener’s attention is to make the very first note of your solo sound awesome.
For a great example, check out this song by King Diamond - a very underrated metal singer. (Listen from 34:39):
To apply this to your guitar solos, practice playing one note and make it sound as expressive as you can. This exercise exposes weaknesses in your guitar phrasing and helps you overcome them, so you can play killer guitar solos.
To make your note sound as awesome as possible, use different ways to apply vibrato, string bends, slides, string rakes, pinch harmonics, double stops and any combinations of these techniques.
Want to easily master all the phrasing techniques that make your guitar playing sound awesome? Download this free eGuide about playing emotional guitar licks and solos to learn how.
Guitar Soloing Tip #3: Learn To Create Super-Tight Lead Guitar Harmonies
Another simple way to improve your guitar solos is to use harmonies (this means to play 2 or more melodies at the same time).
Here is how to create a harmony:
Step 1. Play a simple melody like this:
2. Play the same melody higher or lower in pitch, while staying in the same key. Example:
Adding a harmony underneath (or above) the main guitar solo melody adds a new layer of emotion to your music.
To play totally tight guitar harmonies, it’s important to match the phrasing of all the melodies in the harmony. This is especially important for vibrato. Apply vibrato in all parts of the harmony at the exact same time and in the same way (wide, narrow, fast, slow, instant, delayed, etc.).
Listen to the recording of the harmony and notice how vibrato in both melodies is perfectly in sync. The harmony sounds like one guitar part, even though 2 guitar tracks were recorded .
Now, listen to this sloppy version of the harmony. (Note: make sure to listen in headphones!) Notice how the vibrato is NOT consistent (it is played one way in the left speaker and another way in the right speaker).
To hear great examples of vocal harmonies, listen to the King Diamond record linked in the Facebook post (listen from 7:46 - 8:08 and at 13:14). Notice how vibrato is in perfect sync between all parts of the harmony.
Guitar Soloing Tip #4: Create Truly Memorable Guitar Solo Phrases Instead Of Just Playing Fast
The easiest way to create memorable guitar licks is to play each note as expressively as possible.
This is what all good singers do. Singers cannot sing as many notes on one breath as guitar players can play… and they cannot sing very fast. This means singers have to put as much emotion as possible into each note to sound their best.
Listen to the album in the Facebook post, at 17:39 – 17:52 and 35:36 – 35:50 to hear great examples of this.
Great, expressive phrasing always sounds great (no matter if played fast or slow). Guitar solos with poor phrasing always sound bad (no matter if played fast or slow).
Follow this simple process to make your guitar solos more emotional:
Choose 3-5 short phrases (3-6 notes long) from any of your favorite singers. If you don’t know what singers to choose, use the King Diamond album from the Facebook post mentioned earlier in this article.
Transcribe the pitches. Use your ear as much as possible (and use your guitar to help out, if necessary).
Do your best to imitate the singer’s phrasing nuances on each note. Focus specifically on vibrato, rhythm and ornamentation of the notes. Try to imitate them as perfectly as possible using your guitar. Squeeze every drop of emotion from each note.
Create several variations of the phrases you transcribed. Use different notes and different phrasing techniques to come up with your own highly expressive guitar licks.
Guitar Soloing Tip #5: Fill Your Guitar Solos With Gripping Tension Using Relentless & Repeating Rhythm
Average guitarists think about what notes to play in their guitar solos. Good guitarists also think about the phrasing of the notes (how the notes are played). GREAT guitar players also pay close attention to the rhythm of the notes in their solos.
One easy way to learn how to use rhythm creatively, is to listen to great singers. In the King Diamond video I posted about on Facebook, listen at 23:44 to hear a slow, repeating rhythm in his vocal line. This rhythm was chosen on purpose, to build tension leading into the climax of the phrase.
Do this exercise to add more rhythmic interest to your guitar licks:
Improvise a short guitar lick (no more than 6 notes). Do not play anything fast or difficult.
Create 10-20 variations on this lick by only varying the rhythm. Keep all the pitches the same!
- Create more new guitar licks (short and simple ones) and repeat step 2 with each one.
You now know a lot more about playing great guitar solos than most guitarists. The next step to mastering lead guitar playing is to learn how to squeeze maximum expression from every note you play on guitar. Download this free lead guitar playing eGuide and learn how to make your guitar solos drip with fire and emotion.
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.
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