If you are like most guitar players, you want to be able to play interesting and creative guitar solos. However, you probably find that when you go to create a new guitar solo, you experience difficulty while trying to think of new ideas. Before you know it, you begin using a bunch of old material, and end up with a guitar solo that sounds just like every other solo you have ever heard. What is the reason for this?
The answer lies in the fact that guitar players often end up choosing the same process for creating their guitar solos and improvisations.
The majority of guitar players approach solos as follows (see if this sounds familiar to what you do): you listen to the chords or riffs that you are supposed to play over, and then improvise some melodies until something feels right. This process continues until the guitar solo is done.
Although this approach is a legitimate way to approach soloing on guitar, you need to realize that every time you use it, you are relying on the same guitar soloing process as most other guitarists. As a result, the guitar solos you create will have the same (or very similar) sound to other musicians you know.
To illustrate a point let's use a very well known guitar player: Yngwie Malmsteen. Yngwie is known worldwide as one of the best solo guitar players. Most of the time his guitar soloing has the same consistent sound due to the method he uses to make his solos. Now, Yngwie has been playing guitar at a high level for many years and is obviously satisfied with the way he plays, so the fact that his solos are similar is not an issue (for him and for many of his fans like myself). With that said, if you are not satisfied with how your guitar solos sound, then you obviously do have an issue that must be resolved.
Now, let's talk about solutions for you to use to improve your lead guitar playing. There are countless ways to go about soloing. I want to share with you one of the most powerful approaches (which I use in my own guitar solos) that is quite different from the conventional way of soloing on guitar described above.
You will need to think about who your favorite singer is and select one of his/her vocal melodies (from a song that you like) for this exercise. Then, challenge yourself to compose your guitar solos based on the way the singer sings his/her melodies. There exist many ways to go about doing this, and I'm going to give you one of them here. I've also provided you with a video to watch that gives a guitar soloing demonstration of this approach at work. This method consists of 5 steps:
Step #1: Pick one of the vocal lines that your chosen singer sings in a song.
Step #2: Focus on playing that vocal line (on guitar) in the same way that the singer sings it. Go much deeper than simply 'playing the notes' of the melody and mimic the actual 'phrasing' of HOW the notes are played. Be very precise here, and pay attention to detail in your guitar playing.
Step #3: Figure out the strongest notes which make up the vocal line, and remember these notes. Take out a pencil and write these notes on a piece of paper. You can also use tab, or (if you are comfotable with it) staff paper.
Step #4: Cut out all of the 'non essential' pitches, leaving only the most important notes of the melody.
Step #5: Now that you have created a foundation for your new guitar solo, you can start to get creative. Keep the main pitches that you've selected, and fill the space in between them with new guitar licks centered around those pitches.
Watch the video below to see and hear how this all works. Oh, by the way, I brought Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire's singer) all the way from Italy to Chicago to sing the vocal melody for this 2-hour guitar solo master class (here is a short excerpt of it).
The more you practice the method described in this article, the better you will get at playing melodic guitar solos whenever you want. You will see great improvement as your guitar solos stop sounding like all the other solos you've already heard, and start to take on their own distinct sound.