I would really love to know the opinion of the board on this one. I play a lot of covers for the joy of playing along with the radio and learning. I also write a bit, and am expanding that over the next year. I wanted to ask if you prefer to play the original solo every time - both on covers and your own songs, or if you prefer improv or some combination.
Proud to Be Tall
My guitarist (I slappa the bass mohn) doesn't bother learning most solos unless they are distinct/ truly epic.
When I am playing along to the radio, or the CD player, I tend to play along with the solo of the artist. But, when I play with the band, I try not to leave the key that the solo is in, in other words, I will improv a bit, just to throw in a bit of originality, but there are some points in the solo, that I feel must fall back into the lines of actually keeping it close to the original artists solo... for instance, when playing the solo to Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo chile(Slight return) the first 2 or even 3 measures of Jimi's solo, I will keep original as Jimi played it, but then I will venture into an improv of the blues scale, minding the proper key. and when the song breaksdown, to the quieter part, to start that last verse, i will play it as jimi played it, but then will improv an entire solo of my own, dependent upon how I feel at that particular time. Jimi's live solo's were ALWAYS pure improv, to try to create a memorable experience for that audience so that way there will always be an "Oh-my-god-you-should've-been-there! moment"
Original mainly but with improved parts
There are solos that are very melodic and just sound bad if you don't do the real thing, but some fast parts on solos can be modified to your taste and sound even better
I do a combination on Welcome Home by Coheed and Cambria.

The 2 guitarists usually switch but since I'm the lone guitarist I play it all but with a few parts in the middle being improv. The very first part and the last part of the solo I keep the same.
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I do what I can

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Me too... me too...
That is a good question. My answer is; I play a combination of all three. I like to play the exact solo when I'm unfamiliar with the song/beat or if the phrasing/tonality of the solo really captures the song. Sometimes when there are parts of the solo that are confusing, or just don't sound legit when I play them (usually obscure phrasing) then I will replace that part with something similar or something within the scale of the song. For example, when playing Molly Hatchet's Flirtin' With Disaster, there is a part where the guitarist hits an A note on the G string at fret 2 with triplet rhythms. It just doesn't sound professional when I play it so I replace it with some G major Pentatonic licks. Why? because 99% of people won't know the difference. I was discussing this with another guitarist the other day and we both agreed that some songs require you to play the same leads as the original, otherwise you are just playing something else. Sweet Home Alabama comes to mind. In most the country I play, I usually just improvise...mainly because a lot of the choruses are done by lap steel and fiddle. There is nothing wrong with copying a solo note for note, phrase by phrase. When I was playing SRV's Tightrope...this method helped me to eventually improvise over it. It has a funk style rhythm and doesn't have the usual blues progression,...both of which kind of threw me off. But after copying his solo note for note, it helped me get the feel for the rhythm and phrasing of the song. Just remember,...most people won't know if you played a solo 100% original, 100% improvised, or a combination of the two. Being able to improvise is the funnest and always comes off more natural...however some nights you may not be "feeling it" and that is when it helps to know a solo.
MARTY FRIEDMAN--"It’s a lot easier to be technical than it is stylized; it really is... But I think it’s a lot more rare to have someone who’s really got their own sound because that’s something you can’t practice."
I keep to the same basic structure but throw my own licks in. Gary Moore does that a lot - listen his live recordings, the main "themes" of solos will be the same but the fast blues licks are all pretty much improvved.

EDIT: in reading others reponses i keep reading improved in the sense of "being made better"
The only 6 words that can make you a better guitarist:

Learn theory
Practice better
Practice more
Thanks for all the responses, sounds like a theme of learn the original, and be able to improve on it if necessary. Curious to hear more thoughts.
Proud to Be Tall
I almost always write and learn my own solos beforehand. If I don't have time or I'm having difficulty I usually mimic the original solo, but writing them all myself makes for a more consistent guitar style throughout the gig, I feel.
Hmm. In my band, we have four covers thus far. Two of which have solos (Californication and Say it Ain't So).

In Californication, the other guitarist plays the original solo, and I improvise over it. For that sort of thing, we find that the improvisation has to stay tasteful and basic, or else it really just detracts from the song.

In Say It Ain't So, I keep the first two bars, because those are fun and emotional. In the second bars I instead arpeggiate Cm, Ddim, Edim, Ddim, Cm, because I like the pseudo-classical sound.

Basically, it really depends on the song. In another cover, I added a solo to an outro. If the solo rocks and is important to the identity of a song, only edit if you're sure it won't detract. If you're in a straight-up cover band, not sure if you should change it at all. If the solo in a song isn't so important, go to town with it.

Edit: Saw that you wondered about original material as well. For original junk, I have a structure, and two or three definitive licks, but beyond that, it's improv. I try to approach soloing as simply another layer in a song. Is the guitar the focus? Yus. Should it fit just as well with the other instruments as the vocals have, though? Yus. It's really important to be tasteful with what you create.

Hope this helped in any way ><

Actually from Canada.
Last edited by TheIrishPatriot at May 19, 2010,