3 Tips That Help You Play Expressive Guitar Solos With Ease

by Tom Hess

Wish you could play expressive guitar solos every time you picked up your instrument?

Good news:

There are many ways to get better at this (and you don't need to have shred-level guitar speed) to do it!

Note: It is a common mistake to think that playing guitar solos with more speed, additional notes or technical playing makes them better. These elements are great, but only make up some of the pie.

That said, what helps you play expressive guitar solos very easily?


Develop your ability to “give yourself more time” in between the notes of your guitar solos.

What do I mean?

Simply allow for a little silence to fill space in between notes in your guitar solos or licks. This builds up a lot of musical tension that makes people feel strong anticipation for every note you play.

Here are some more simple tips to help you play expressive guitar solos that rock:

Play Expressive Guitar Solos Tip #1. Focus On “How” You Play Notes

Remember: playing expressive guitar solos isn't just about memorizing licks to throw in, adding as many notes as possible or showing off your technical skills.

These approaches generally center around which notes you use, but have nothing to do with how the notes are being expressed.

Your ability to express yourself with great soloing comes from practicing guitar phrasing. Guitar phrasing is what makes guitar solos sound like music instead of random exercises.

Here is a simple way to practice phrasing:

Think of a small 3-4 note guitar lick and play it over a backing track.

Try to think of 20 different ways you can repeat the lick using vibrato, legato, bending or other techniques and without changing the original pitch of the notes for 1 minute.

This helps you start developing more expressive guitar solos very fast and works as a great warm up.

Play Expressive Guitar Solos Tip #2. Fill Your Guitar Solos With Emotion

Playing right notes above the right chords isn't enough to help you play expressive guitar solos.

This is just the bare minimum.

You make your guitar solos sound expressive by learning the emotions that specific notes create when they are played over specific chords.

Here is an example:

The root note of the E5 power chord is (E). This note feels resolved/relaxed when played above the chord.

E5 contains the notes E and B.

Now, play a minor 9th (F#) over E5 and observe the tense feeling this creates.

What emotion does this feel like to you?

Think about how this feels to you then add more notes from the E minor scale and repeat this process. Understand that this same concept works regardless of key – just focus on the scale degree and how it feels.

Play Expressive Guitar Solos Tip #3. Master Vibrato

Vibrato guitar technique is the most important tool in you toolbox for expressive guitar solos.

Here are some ways to master it and use it better in your guitar playing:

  1. Make sure your vibrato is always in-tune by always bending the string up to the pitch you want to match (the target), then releasing it back down to the original pitch. Don't release it anywhere in between.
  2. Use vibrato that is 1 whole step wide (with fast application) to add incredible tension and expression to the final note in any given guitar phrase.
  3. Practice vibrato using metronome to make it tight and in-time with any song you play to. Try this: Bend the string up on the first beat and release it down on the next beat. Simply repeat this pattern and your vibrato will become easier to control very quickly.

Apply these simple tips to play expressive guitar solos in no time.

Want to learn how to play an amazing guitar solo anytime you want by using only one note? Learn how to do it right now by watching this one note guitar solo video.

Tom HessAbout 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 an amazing shred guitarist with electric guitar internet lessons.

© 2002-2023 Tom Hess Music Corporation