Ok, this is my first article, so "constructive criticism" is welcome, naturally. The idea for writing this has been on my mind for a while. I was playing at my school's talent show, and this 8th grade kid was walking around asking the guitarists if they could "solo". That's lame, right? For one thing, who cares? We're all at our different levels, and you shouldn't be judged by that. But the ridiculous thing is that you don't just automatically "solo" at some point of your progress (sorry if that dissapoints some of you). You have to work up to it, like everything else. You didn't start riding a two-wheeler bike.
I, for one, had a big wheel. Then came the bike with training wheels. I'd get better, then I had the training wheels taken off. Point being, picture so-called "soloing" - or, the ability to play advanced and technical leads- to be like your progression of riding a bike. The big-wheel is your standard riff (Heartbreaker by Led Zeppelin, Back In Black by AC/DC).
The two wheeler would be your usual ripping solo. This article will give you some training wheels to get from playing Boulevard Of Broken Dreams to Iron Maiden solos. I've tried to include a somewhat wide range of music here, so bear with me. Sorry for the bike analogy... Anyways, now to start. Majority of the tabs for these songs can be found on this site, I believe.
I'll rate (the best I can) the difficulty a beginner might have with these leads.
Without further ado:
01. Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love -- Van Halen **
This song has a great main riff, and a great (and quite simple! ) solo, which repeats twice. On the recording, there are two guitars playing different things during fragments of the solo. I suggest putting on some headphones and listening to the guitar coming out of the left ear, as it is the lead. Pretty simple, with some cool parts, and sounds really good. One of EVH's simplest works.
02. Don't Speak -- No Doubt ***
There is a great little lead in this during the song's bridge. For a beginner, it is pretty technical, but it has a great flamenco sound to it. It clearly utilizes scales, and is good practice for a starter. It uses scales and some chords for it's sound. Don't let the band or genre discourage you; this is a good lead and could possibly impress some people. Give it a try.
03. Black Dog -- Led Zeppelin ***
This isn't so much a solo, but the main riff of the song. It doesn't use the pinkey, but it's still pretty technical, and sounds great too. Demonstrates how scales can be used to make riffs. Take it slow when learning, you'll get the hang pretty quick.
04. To The Moon And Back -- Savage Garden ***
This is very similar sounding to Don't Speak. Has some particular tricky parts, and can look really cool if played up to speed, or even faster than normal. Sounds great.
05. Walking A Country Mile -- ??? *** (and a half)
Not sure who's song this is. I learned it from a beginner guitar book a long time ago. It can teach beginners how to use hammer-ons and bends, and sounds really great too. It is, obviously, a country song, but if you don't like country, well, learn it anyway! Just play it in front of your friends for laughs or something. This can be quite valuable for developing your two-string bends, which are also heavily-emphasized in blues.
06. Johnny B. Goode -- Chuck Berry ***
A classic. Covers most of the simple techniques. Ask any guitar teacher if they can play this and they'll say "yes", guaranteed. The solo Marty McFly plays in Back to the future? Oh yes... (Also, if you play this, I think (not totally sure) that it ends on the same note as Black Dog starts, so you can go right into Black Dog from it)
07. Bloodstains -- Agent Orange ***
Classic surf-punk song. I think it was in one of the "Tony Hawk Pro Skater" games, so naturally a lot of people have heard it. This song features a great surf solo, impresses anybody who will listen. While it doesn't have the pick-liquifying speed of a Dick Dale song, it's still a little fast for beginners. Just give it a try. Another Agent Orange option is Everything Turns Grey. I would highly suggest getting this lead down.
08. Hit Me With Your Best Shot -- Pat Benetar ****
I played this song at a school talent show, but I played my own version of the solo. The recorded version does have a pretty spiffy solo in it though. There is a repeated hammer-on pull-off riff in the song that moves up the fretboard and sounds pretty cool. Also features bends and a few pinch harmonics. Great practice.
09. You Shook Me All Night Long -- AC-(thunderbolt)-DC ****
Everybody loves this song. If you don't know it, you should. This solo is getting a bit more technical, but practice and you'll get it with ease. A bit bluesy sounding (but only a bit), with lots of bends. Practice makes perfect...
10. Runnin' with the Devil -- Van Halen ****
One of Van Halen's more advanced simpler solos, strange as that sounds. This one'll definetely impress the untrained ear (maybe get you some girls?!). Played pretty quickly, a bend or two in there.
11. True Nature -- Jane's Addiction ****
This one sounds very tricky when you listen to it, but it isn't actually that difficult to play. As you'll find, a lot of solos are like that. Anyways, this is one of Jane's newer songs (which aren't as good as the old in my opinion), and it sounds great, sure to impress. Heavy emphasis on the pull-off in the beginning, and huge bending toward the end. A simpler Dave Navarro lead, my favorite guitarist of the nineties.
12. Stairway To Heaven -- Led Zeppelin *****
Sorry to mention the really obvious one, but before you roll your eyes, know that lots of people got into guitar from this song alone. This can be very tricky to play, but it isn't really that bad. You obviously aren't gonna get Page's tone, but this is one of the most classic solos of all time (if not the most), and it's a hell of an ego booster if you can rip your way through it. Just take it slow and learn it note for note, and I guarantee that you'll feel great when you can play it. This was the first real (think two wheeler) solo that I ever played through. If not this song, then pick another difficult solo and work your way up to it as a goal. When you learn it, you'll feel great and know you reached a certain level.
Anyways, that was just to name a few intermediate options for people. As always, practice makes pefect, and don't show off unless you got it totally wired. Learn your scales and don't let anyone talk down to you. You'll get better, you can only go up, right? The most important thing while playing things like this is to just have fun. That way, you can't go wrong...