I'm trying to play a solo in C minor, but I can't quite get it right. Is it because I'm not playing over a backing riff? I've noticed a lot of my improv devolves into fast scales and arpeggios. Any advice?
It usually helps for me to play with a backing track. I'd suggest this site for a few prerecorded tracks to play over.
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Short n simple. Start in C finish in C. Maybe your song doesn't need a solo.
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I'm really feeling a solo, it's just that i can't get the sound I want from it. I'll try recording the rhythm guitar part, play over that some, and see what happens.
solos dont really sound good without a backing track. find a C minor backing track and solo over it, itll sound alot better. i know what you mean, i try doing a C lydian improv, but it sounds horrible unless I have two chords in the background to help the sound go with it
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You need the backing track. Without it it will almost certainly sound like Eb major, unless you're only using the harmonic minor.
If you're having trouble with a solo, try this:

Listen to what you'll be playing with once, without playing. If you don't already know it well enough that you could sing the root movement, repeat this step. Sing the root movement over to make sure

Sing the head or melody over what you're playing with.

Improvise with your voice over what you're playing with. Stay within the limits of your voice - don't just say "widdly widdly widdly" while quickly blurring up and down. Try for something that sounds good. Try to hear the melody as you solo. Try to hear the root movement as you solo. Try to hear both as you solo. Extra challenge - try doing this with the radio playing loud country music in a different key. Think up other ways to make it difficult. Remember that this is practice and nobody cares how terrible you might actually sound, although if you practice this way frequently, you might start to sound pretty good.

Repeat this step until you find a piece of the song's groove. You'll know when you've done that because you'll start to feel great and and like you want to just keep singing. Keep singing for a while. It's fun.

Once you've found a groove, go back to your instrument. You will notice an improvement. Repeat the process as often as you please to keep improving.

*A note on unaccompanied solos - they can sound awesome. But if you want them to sound awesome, you need to be comfortable playing the same changes with accompaniment.
Last edited by Nick_ at Oct 25, 2009,
To prevent your play from turning into wank, try and apply some contrast eg playing in the rhythm as opposed to out, and contrast the speed you play, you could play inside the scale or outside the scale. You should think when you solo so you dont go into auto pilot with just shredding mindlessly.