How To Easily Play Killer Guitar Solos Using Tension Created By Half Steps
Do your guitar solos lack the musical expression and feeling that you wish they had?
It's actually very easy to quickly make your guitar solos sound dramatic, expressive and intense just like the ones played by pro players.
So, what is the secret?
It's all in the half steps.
Emphasizing the half steps within the scale you are using makes your guitar solos come alive with musical expression. All you need to do is learn how to build and release tension with them.
Don't worry, it's very easy.
Start playing great guitar solos today by using these killer licks to build and release the natural tension in half steps:
Click on the video to begin watching it.
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Now you know how to use half steps to make your guitar solos sound much more expressive than before.
There is a lot more to playing killer solos though!
Use these tips to play guitar solos great every time you pick up your instrument:
How To Play Fast, High-Quality Lead Guitar Solos
1. Use neck pick up when you play notes that are higher up on the fretboard. This means flip the pickup selector up.
This makes your tone more smooth.
Use the bridge pick up for rhythm guitar/ playing in the lower pitch range, but it makes higher notes sound thin.
2. Keep your rhythmic timing tight (during guitar solos and all areas of your playing).
Guitarists often (unknowingly) play notes on the beat some of the time but ahead of the beat at other times. This can have the effect of ruinging your guitar solos.
Here is what to do:
Pay close attention to your timing when you play. Split your awareness between playing the notes correctly and anticipating when the next beat of the metronome occurs. Use recording software if you have it to see and hear your mistakes more clearly.
3. Don’t worry about chromatic exercises.
These common exercises quickly become mindless since they have very little musical application besides being finger exercises. You rarely have to play extended chromatic licks like this in actual music, so it doesn't make much sense to practice them often.
Instead, work on things that actually have good transferability to music and other aspects of your musical skills. An example would be developing your picking technique by practicing scales (this helps you learn two skills at once, but it is possible to combine many more skills into a single exercise).
4. Focus on clean muting technique.
To keep your guitar solos clean, use the index finger of the fretting hand to mute the strings immediately above the one you are playing. For example, if you are playing the low E string, have the index finger covering the A and D string to prevent them from creating sloppy noises.
How To Become A Much More Creative Guitarist
Being creative while playing guitar solos is not just for people who are naturally talented... anyone can become a creative player.
You just have to learn how to practice creativity and do so consistently.
The following are a few exercises to help you develop musical creativity so your guitar solos sound great:
Guitar Solo Creativity Exercise #1:
Step 1 - Choose a guitar solo lick you are already familiar with (or quickly think of one yourself).
Step 2 – Play through the lick until you are able to easily perform it without making many mistakes.
Step 3 – Keep playing this lick while changing HOW you play the notes by using things like bends, vibrato or legato to develop your phrasing. Make sure to only change how you play the notes, not the notes themselves. Do this for several minutes.
This exercise helps you think more creatively in the moment rather than hoping to randomly come across good sounding notes.
Guitar Solo Creativity Exercise #2:
Step 1 - Think of a rhythm comprised of no more than 5 notes (clap it with your hands or write it down if you need to).
Step 2 – Improvise a guitar solo lick using the note rhythms you chose. Use any notes you like, but keep playing the same rhythm for several repetitions.
This exercise focuses more on the notes you choose to help you create guitar solo phrases more easily.
Guitar Solo Creativity Exercise #3:
Step 1 – Think of or improvise a short guitar solo lick of 5 notes.
Step 2 – Play through this lick several times until you can play it easily.
Step 3 – Repeat this lick several times while changing the rhythm of the notes every time you repeat it. Do this for a couple of minutes straight.
This exercise challenges your ability to play with different note rhythms in the moment.
As you understand now, all of these exercises help you improve a single area of your guitar playing. When you invest time into practicing them, you are able to play a lot more creatively.
How To Move Across The Fretboard More Easily During Guitar Solos
Ever feel like your solos and you end up wandering around the fretboard hoping to find the right notes?
Try this out:
Visualize what scale shape you are going to move into before you even begin moving your fingers into position to play its notes.
Practice using scale shapes that begin in closeby positions at first.
For example, work on improvising a guitar solo lick using a 3 note per string E minor scale beginning on the 12th fret of the E string. Stay within one octave and improvise for a minute or two. Next, do the same, only by using the F# Dorian scale shape . This contains all the notes of E minor, but starts on fret 14.
After this, spend a few minutes mixing both patterns together.
Use this concept to spread out over the entire fretboard over time. Try different approaches as you expand your fretboard visualization such as beginning on different strings, moving between modes of different parent scales or adding arpeggio patterns into your scales.
Here are some reviews from my students who took lessons and applied some of these same ideas from this page into their lead guitar playing:
“I just love guitar lessons with Tom, he literally takes the time to make a specific lesson plan and sends you lessons as you need it.”
My last lesson I took with a local guitar teacher before joining Tom, I was struggling with a sweep picking pattern, which was the 5 string root major, I was really struggling to get the rolling technique down. I took it to my guitar teacher and I was like “Help me with this, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” This is his exact phrase: “At high speeds, it doesn’t really matter if you can play it clean or not, no one can hear it anyway.” At that point, I was just like, “Ah man.” But thankfully, in that same message, he mentioned Tom’s name. Then the doors opened. That very night, I went home and looked at every single lesson Tom had, had my guitar in hand, every YouTube lesson on you know “correct motions”, “play this over chords”... just applied it instantly, and it was instant results within an hour... just from his free stuff. I was like, oh man, I’ve got to do lessons with this guy.
I remember when I first started out with lessons, I instantly jumped on the forum to greet myself, and it’s amazing how there’s like 30 responses. Just like, “Hi welcome.” and stuff... “Hi Dan, great musical tastes”. That made me feel really at home and welcomed into Tom’s forum and community. Every time I’ve had an issue when I was first starting out be it like theory or technique, there’s always been someone there who’s helped. Otherwise it could’ve been this potentially awkward process where I’d have to wait a whole week to get an answer from my teacher, who even then may not have answered it correctly and may have never solved it. Whereas there are guys on there who have been with Tom and have been through exactly what I’ve been through. They know exactly how to help, in what order, what information you need... it’s just a friendly atmosphere really.
Dan Mayhew, Stowmarket, UK
When I started learning from Tom, the main thing that made him different from other teachers was that he was showing me how to excel in all aspects of my guitar playing by applying the skills that I already knew together with the new material that I was learning from him.
He made me aware of both strengths and weaknesses in my playing that I did not even know I had. From there he gave me the knowledge, tools and guidance to literally transform my guitar playing by enabling me to overcome things that were preventing me from becoming a truly creative and self-expressive guitar player. These were the kinds of things that none of my previous guitar teachers and books I studied were able to do for me.
After Tom made me aware of all the things I was missing in my guitar playing and provided me with the strategy and tools for solving them, I began to make very fast progress in all areas of my guitar playing.
I can now write my own music and can create lead guitar solos that I am happy and fulfilled with. I also have the technical skills to confidently and easily play anything that I want to express. I have overcome all of the lead guitar challenges that I struggled with before, and increased my guitar speed to virtuoso levels. More importantly, I have the knowledge and understanding of how to continually improve my guitar playing and musical skills to higher and higher levels to continue expressing myself with my music. Overall, I have definitely transformed in a huge way as a musician and as a person through my lessons with Tom Hess. I am grateful to him for guiding me towards becoming the guitarist I always wanted to be!"
Mike Philippov, Indiana, USA
“I had problems with physical playing. I couldn’t hold the pick, I was struggling a lot, there was frustration for like years. I started out looking for a YouTube solution, maybe someone knows how to angle the pick or build up speed and accidentally ran into Tom.”
The video wasn’t about playing, he only had a conversation. I listened up to him. I saw that Tom made a lot of sense in his speech, and I got interested. I went to his site, started looking at what he offered, got very interested, filled out the form, got my first lesson, started building up myself and started getting more results than I was getting before when I was self taught. It was an amazing experience that opened up so many doors, and still there are so many doors to open.
The material is specifically done for your individual needs, to reach your goals. You can always put up new goals. You can have feedback on your playing, see your weak areas and strong areas. Tom cares a lot about his students. He always reviews and watches how I am progressing so we can review material, step by step. Not skipping the steps. He is paying attention to it, and that’s what I like about it. I last felt this kind of motivation when I was 13 and starting out with a band, now I’m feeling the same fire and passion. There are students who are more advanced, more knowledgeable and have more experience. Instead of feeling jealous, I feel much more motivated to push myself further.
Freddy Kuiva, Estonia
Now you know how to play better guitar solos... it's time to raise all your overall guitar skills to the next level. How? Find out by getting started with internet guitar lessons.