I've been playing for 3, 4 years? i don't know. i know a decent share of music theory and i'm a decent player. i've never actually sat down and tried to figure out a solo to a song before. what else can i do besides slow it down? i don't really want to slow it down. i understand there is no 'answer' to this but what's a smart way to approach this? should i try to figure out if it's in a certain mode?
find the scale, chances are the modes will change... maybe anyways.
"Lord beer me strength."
learn the solo/lead part in fragments, measures at a time and get it down as perfectly as you can, then put them all together. Trying to learn the entire thing in one go will be much harder.
I figure everything out by ear, because I happen to like a lot of underground musician's that play in local pubs here in Amsterdam, so there are simply no tabs for their music so I can only figure out by ear.

I suggest by making a list;
(There can be NO songs you already know how to play of course)

1st; Make a list (as long as you like) of all ur favourite guitar songs (or even non guitar songs)

2nd; Order them from easiest to hardest (a gun's n' roses song is obviously easier then a song by Steve Vai)

3rd; Start with the main themes/melodies. Forget the solo's for now, cause the melodies will also help u understand notes over chords and how the things all work together in harmony.

4th; when u figured a song out, find the corresponding tab to check (make sure it's a good tab; 4 x 5-stars = good, 5 x 1,5 stars = bad)

5th; for chords, I'd use an chord ear trainer or something, because alot of times things are added in studio's and there are overdubs, which can be hard to separate if inexperienced, and are possibly impossible to play in it's entirety on 1 instrument.

Hope this helps

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If you can find a video on youtube that shows at least the general area on the neck for parts of the lead it makes it alot easier to get the right strings for the notes.
Quite honestly, picking something out by ear comes a lot through your command of the instrument for which the music was written for. I don't know about the kind of lead parts you're referring to and what I'm about to say does not necessarily apply to something like jazz but for most music and most fast 'shred' runs from the likes of guitarists such as Malmsteen, Gilbert Petrucci or even Vai are based on strict motifs. This doesn't really apply to THE solo in a song but in most of their instrumental compositions there always is a rhythmic or melodic group that is sequenced diatonically, more or less. Especially in the very fast runs it's just a repeating group of notes that is taken up or down a scale. What I'm saying is if you know what key you're in, and if you're pretty sure there isn't any chromaticism involved all you need to figure out is one of these certain patterns and suddenly a whole run is unlocked. Of course learning more about the guitarist you're trying to learn a solo off helps; getting familiar with their signature licks and their technical limitations and fortes. Of course for the slower passages you just need to use your ear. Most of it is free of any form and thus doesn't have the same structure a faster passage would have. And if you actually are having trouble with the slower passages my advice would be to simply keep at it and for every note you manage to figure out learn the intervalic relationship to the note before you managed to figure out and that way you soon begin to build a vocabulary of intervals you are familiar with and soon picking out a slow solo would become a breeze.

Hope that helps.
start with easy, diatonic music.
learn intervals.
slowly practice one measure (usually four beats, but it can be 6, 8, 12, whatever) untill you can play it perfectally (and sing it from memory) then move on.
Try to memorize it bit by bit and slow it down in your head instead of doing it with software or something.
Learn it without the recording--after you've memorized it aurally (the measure or whatever small unit your using), then play it at speed with the recording and make sure its perfect. then notate (yes in manuscript paper--on a staff with real notes), then continue. When your done with the melody transcribe the bass part, then figure out the harmony from listening/theory. (Im still working on getting ok at the last bit).
Good transcription skills take time, but can be learned.
thank you. these are great suggestions. and i usually try to figure out simple things by ear like i'm a little teapot and twinkle twinkle little star etc. and i notate it on staff paper.

but yeah, i've been trying to find out some easy lead guitar parts in some of zappa's albums.
Quote by rudiecantfail92
thank you. these are great suggestions. and i usually try to figure out simple things by ear like i'm a little teapot and twinkle twinkle little star etc. and i notate it on staff paper.

but yeah, i've been trying to find out some easy lead guitar parts in some of zappa's albums.

I doubt that's going to happen, I don't think such a thing exists

start trying to figure out something easier, first solo I ever tabbed by ear was All Right Now by Free
Actually called Mark!

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Sing some scales and learn to sing
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[U]        |/     .-.              [/U]
[U]       /|_     `-’       |      [/U]
[U]      //| \      |       |      [/U]
[U]     | \|_ |     |     .-|      [/U]
      *-|-*    (_)     `-’
We have it easy these days. Using pc can slow things down and maintain pitch, it's great, makes it dead easy.
When I was a kid used a reel to reel and had to figure it out from lower pitched playback. Or wore record grooves out picking stylus up and down.
Advice?, just get on with it. My approach: Find harmony/chords first, sketch the melody second, fill in rhythm last. I've found Guitar Pro a great tool for checking your score via the playback, especially for rhythmic accuracy.
Ah, I use my mp3 player for this. My mp3 player can slow things down pretty slow. To make it easier play it once and try to find the scale then, play it again from the beginning and try to follow it. My reply's a bit late isn't it.
Of course, if someone is blessed with much musical experience, like about 10 years or so, then being able to determine pitches comes naturally to you. This is not a skill that is achieved overnight. However, if you want to accelerate the rate of learning, then I suggest taking music theory class. It will work wonders.
yeah i'm playing on taking IB music theory next year.
i can't wait. thanks for the help guys. it's been helping