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Writing Guitar Solos

Writing guitar solos can be a daunting task, in this lesson I will try to simplify the process of guitar soloing.

In a lot of ways writing music is no different to writing stories, you set the theme, build up tension, portray emotion, all whilst keeping the reader/listener interested, engaged and hopefully moved by the end!

Firstly you need to set the theme, how do you want your solo to sound? Is it going to be upbeat, bluesy, or sombre? You create different emotions with the scale you use, so basic knowledge of scales is a necessity for soloing unless you have an ear like Jeff Beck.

The scale you use is in essence your alphabet, which can now be used to create interesting words (These are your Guitar Licks).  Once you have created some interesting guitar licks to keep the listener intrigued, they can then be combined to make sentences (Guitar Riffs).

You now have some cool guitar licks and riffs to put into your solo, which need to be combined. This leads to what a lot of guitarists forget about at this point, Punctuation! You don’t need to be constantly playing for a solo to be effective; space is needed to breathe. This also goes for speed. A guitar solo doesn’t have to be fast, if the solo is played at full pelt throughout, this takes away the interest and emotion. To create emotion in your playing you need to vary the tempo (speed), volume, pitch (play up and down the neck), to really try and move the listener.

Once you have put all this in to practice you will be creating interesting and effective solos in no time. One final point, for me the greatest instrument is the voice, and when you hear singing with emotion it is really something special. With the guitar you are trying to replicate that sound and emotion in your solos. This can be a difficult skill to grasp; listening to how different guitarists create solos is a great place to start.

Good Luck. Ste.

Summary:

  • Scale – Is your alphabet to set the theme
  • Licks – Words
  • Riffs – Sentences
  • Solo – Whole story, creating emotion with the licks, riffs and overall structure!

You can get more lessons from Ste here: kickstart-guitar.com

This instrumental piece titled Lenny is a song SRV wrote for his wife. This piece is a prime example of the points highlighted in this article, at times you can barely hear SRV’s guitar, creating emotion and tension all whilst building up to a peak at the end. The theory behind the song is fairly basic using pentatonic and blues scales in E (tuned down half a step to Eb). However creating that emotion and feeling is what makes the song into a masterpiece.

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