So I've been playing for about 10 years now so I'm not a beginner, but I'm having a BIG problem writing solos. I'm betting more than anything it's a confidence problem but I'd like some feedback as well. I am no where near the level I'd like to be and even further from where I feel I should be for playing this long. I can play more blues-ish solos but not shredding. My band is modern metal, similar to Trivium, Machine Head... so shredding and that stuff is sort of a must. I can play stuff like most MetallicA solos, some Iron Maiden, and the more melodic Trivium stuff but when it comes to fast runs, arpeggios, and just crazy shit I can't even come close to keeping up. So for that reason I'd see why writing is more difficult (for my band at least).

Now my problem is first that my skills aren't exactly where I need them but more importantly I just can't seem to write the shit. I can sit around and diddle stuff and just do basic riffs but none of it would come close to qualify as a solo IMO. There's no singing or speaking through my playing, nothing technical at all, and IMO nothing really interesting at all. Just simply shit, more like what a bass solo would be like, but on guitar (not to say that bass solos are those negative things). I was in a band once before as lead guitarist and I tried writing solos and even though it was insanely hard to present them I still was able to. They sucked and had no feeling to them, and note I'm not just playing scales, I can't even do that. Now it's not that I have no heart or soul, I just can't seem to figure out how to connect it to my guitar, need some special adapter or something.

I'll say for my skill level it's most likely because I have a problem just sitting there and practicing runs, scales, arpeggios... I want to play songs instead. Also I have the problem writing rhythm riffs which is related. I'm not sure if I'm just afraid of being embarrassed or what but I just can't figure it out, some HUGE wall to get over. Now also I have the problem of singing, to myself. Somewhere in my life something happened that made me self conscience. I've been wanting to do backing vocals for my band but I can't even hear myself sing. Everyone says just sing in the shower or in the car... but that's the problem. I'm too embarrassed to even hear myself sing, let alone someone else.

So can anyone give me tips? Anyone else had this problem and overcome it? I'd really love to express myself in solos and whatnot but I can't seem to figure it out on my own.

Thanks in advance
My suggestion would be to study a lot of Jazz theory. Jazz features most of the guitar techniques that Metal uses, such as one and two tapping, Flat picking, tremolo picking, Sweep-picking, Alternate picking, Tremolo picking, Hybrid picking, Flat picking, Cross picking, Down picking, Apoyando, Coil tapping, Natural, Tap, Pinch & Artificial harmonics, Tirando, Dive bombing, Golpe, Hybrid picking, Legato, Picados, Rasgueado, String skipping, Tambour. However, the reason I would suggest it also is because while it may lack the aggressive tone that Metal has, it can teach you how to play a guitar solo while still playing just chords.

It can give you the feel of expressing yourself and yet be in the context enough to sound like you are not even soloing, which is more important for you. Since most Jazz insists on really abstract chords that require your entire fretting hand to stretch and then bounce these chords up and down the neck at the speed that others tap, it will give you so much fretting abilities.

So again, I would suggest picking up some Jazz theory books or studying other Jazz enthusiast guitarists of any form of Jazz. When you do, you will realize how to solo without seeming to be indulgent, something that will build your confidence.

My final suggestion would be to write a great number of your solos on an acoustic guitar. No matter which way you slice it, unless you can play the acoustic, you can eventually feel that sense of being an inadequate guitarist.

Either way, best of luck and hope you get through this.
Last edited by AllJudasPriest at Oct 29, 2011,
That makes a lot of sense. I've been a big classical fan rooting from Randy Rhoads but I'm very open to other styles to further my skills. Recently I've really gotten into Marty Friedman and it's amazing to hear the things he could do and how well he knew the instrument. There's the lesson he did for guitar world in like 91 or something (it looks like) and he just explains so much but he's more teaching how to advance rather than starting. The one thing I've been trying to do he recommended. He said to take a song you know and write a solo over it and make it feel/sound like it should have been there. He did Hotel California improvising and it was one of the coolest solo's I've ever heard, that's what I'd really love to be able to do.

Thanks for the help, I'll check out some jazz books.
BTW just noticed you're in Dunedin, hows the weather right now? I've been trying to move to tampa forever now and this time of year makes me want to drop everything and just move. I'm in MI and the weather is starting to freeze every night, I swear if I see snow I'll flip.
^ Do you have GuitarPro?

It is about 71 degrees right now.
Last edited by AllJudasPriest at Oct 29, 2011,
guitar pro, power tab, and tux guitar. God I wish I was down there, it's about 40-50 here, during the day, even colder at night.
just play random notes in a scale, and possibly switch scales halfway, dont use more than 2 different scales

electro-acoustic guitar player
(looking for band in or near rayleigh - essex - UK)
To expand on why I asked about GuitarPro and the statement about playing/writing on an acoustic:

Once you've developed a feel for an electric guitar, which you said you had, you might end up being fascinated with some of your dazzling skills, which there is nothing wrong with, you should be glad you can do what you do. But if a person were to say, "Yeah that sounds good, but try playing without that wah pedal, effect pedal board or simply some overdrive," would you want to be able to respond by playing something like this?

Could you, at a moments notice, transition to the acoustic and play, without a single ounce of help, something as quality and engaging as you did on the electric? Or does the task seem pretty daunting?

The mark of a great guitarist is how well they can play stuff meant for the electric on an acoustic. As a result, if your composing riffs or leads, it is best to do it on an acoustic. The reason why is because on an acoustic it is just you and your talent with no help and no hiding behind effects. So if you have guitarpro, you might want to check out some of the acoustic guitar files that have been uploaded. I have some of said files if you'd like to get an better understanding of what I mean.
I've been playing for 2-3 years now, so my advice might not seem like much but use backing tracks and just get lost in them, don't think just feel. I've got a spider 4 line 6 15 watt amp that lets me plug my mp4 into it allowing me to play along to it, I just put them on my mp4 and jam out. My favorite one to jam to is eric clapton's old love, if you're into the blues this is one of the best songs to get lost in, I went 10 minutes straight today not running out of ideas, just get lost in the music friend, don't over think it.
thanks, yeah that acoustic thing makes sense. Never though about it that way.
I find that I write much better, more interesting stuff on my acoustic. When I pick up my electric I'm more liable to just play my favorite songs or aimlessly shred around.
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