Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking: that this is going to be one of those articles where I tell you my way of doing things and it has to be done my way. Fortunately that's incorrect, because like so many of you out there, I can't stand those articles. No, no, instead, I'll pretty much give you the basic solo techniques you'll need to make your guitar solo really shine. So, whether you're a beginner or a guru, take a few minutes and check out this article: who knows, you just might learn a thing or two.
Alright, there's really no real way to start out a solo, for that involves creativity and is really up to the writer. So, instead, I'll just give a run-through of the basic techniques you can use in your solo that will give it some flare.
I know this sounds really basic, but just think about it for a minute. Bends can work wonders for your solo. It can give it a bluesy sound, you can hold them out for effect, you can even descend a bend instead of ascending it. I don't mean you should just monotonously bend; you should spontaneously bend! What I mean is, you can get really creative with bends sometimes. Take a look at David Gilmour. He is a prime example of a guitar player who uses bends to his advantage. A good solo to check out would be "Time". All I'm saying is, working in bends here and there in your solo can sound great where plain picking just sounds decent. Which brings me to the next technique:
For those beginners reading the article, tremolo picking just means picking really fast. This can give an extremely fast-paced impression, and can really do good for your solo, especially the climax. As usual, I have an example, and it's "Holy Wars... the Punishment Due" by Megadeth. Dave Mustaine's solo at the end is full of ridiculously fast tremolo picking (well, admittedly, I myself can't quite pull it off but I'm sure there are a few here who can easily take it). Tremolo picking works great for those fast-paced songs you're writing. Okay, what's next?
Hammer-Ons And Pull-Offs
Tremolo picking has its pros and cons. Where tremolo picking fails, hammer-ons and pull-offs can come in handy. Once again, beginners, a hammer-on is where you go from a lower note to a higher note using another finger, and a pull-off is going from a lower to a higher note by pulling your finger off the higher note and having your other finger on the lower note. Got that? Good. Now, where is this technique good and tremolo picking bad? Well, for instance, say you've got a bit of a slower piece of music. Tremolo picking could work for a neat effect, but more often than not you're going to want to use those hammer-ons and pull-offs to your advantage. There are literally hundreds of examples of this; just listen to any solo by your favorite band. I'm sure there's a lot of hammering-on and pulling-off going on. It's a very common technique. And, speaking of common techniques:
Yeah, sliding. Pretty simple. All you do is go from one note to the other by sliding your finger either up or down the fretboard to it. Easy stuff. And it's amazing how well it can work out for you. Jimi Hendrix uses this technique in a few of his songs; for instance, let's take one of his most famous pieces, "Purple Haze". The main riff starts off with a B on the D string (9th fret, beginners), only he slides up to it, giving it a much more entertaining feel. Well, that's how I feel anyway. But wait, there's more! Say you want to switch scales or modes in the middle of your solo, due to a key change or something like that; yes, yes, you can slide to the next mode! The beauty is, this can sound really good! I said it before and I'll say it again: yeah, sliding. Anything else?
I'm afraid this topic is way too big to cover completely, so I suggest reading some other articles on here about it. But, to put it simply enough so at least you beginners have an idea: harmonizing is using one different set of notes on top or bottom of another set of notes to create what is called "harmony". This can be done in all sorts of intervals, some popular ones being the minor third, major third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth (the power chord, beginners), and the octave. Of course, there are plenty more, and to those of you who are awaiting my Harmonizing Pt. 2 article, don't worry, it's on its way. Hey, you know what I'm just remembering?
Phew, almost forgot it. That was a close one. Arpeggiating is probably one of the coolest-sounding techniques you can possibly use. And it's easy, too. Arpeggiating is just taking the notes of a chord (probably specified by what key your song is in) and playing them individually. You have in front of you one chord yet hundreds of combinations of notes you could play to make your arpeggio sound unique. And yes, it has been used in some pretty popular songs. Let me name a really, really famous one: "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" by Van Halen. See? And you thought I couldn't name one...
Well, there you go, beginners (and experts alike). I hope now you know what might go good with your solo; I'm sure this gives you a pretty broad range of techniques. Plus, combine those with different scales and modes and you've got yourself one great solo. I apologize if I left anything out (which I'm sure I did); but just keep in mind this was kind of geared more towards the beginners.
What are you doing still reading this? Go and write your solo!