I'm working on a track right now with an extended outro solo (32-40 bars), and I'm having trouble maintaining musical momentum. I've done a number of shorter solos (8-16 bars) that I'm very happy with, but with more bars to fill I find myself falling into just noodling and as a result the whole thing loses its punch. Any tips on how better to structure a longer solo so that maintains its impact and makes a concise musical statement?
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A bit of noodling can be fine if it injects a sudden gust of speed ... Try playing with effects (auto wah, filters ...), use areas of playing and of your instrument that you usually don't
Be aware of your chord structure and follow it, a long solo is boring if it doesn't fit nicely in the harmony
The thing with longer solos is that you can't just go full speed straight through. You need to have a melody and a stronger sense of direction. Since you have more time, you have more opportunity to build themes and expand on melodic ideas while still being able to play more rapid, technical stuff if you want.

Look at this solo:
There is a lot of technical stuff going on, but there is also a lot of melody and progression in there. There are repeated measures that lead into melodic variations, which is something that makes a longer solo valuable, since you can expand on a melodic line and incorporate more ideas and variations within the solo.

This solo has a lot of similar ideas:
There is a lot of technical stuff going on, but there is also melodic direction. The solo contains some common themes and uses variations and rapid technical passages to link them together in such a way that there is a definite sense of progression and melody.

In longer solos, you need to be able to maintain focus and show that your attention is focused rather than simply going for broke and playing as fast as humanly possible. Try to use melody to really build a longer solo into something interesting with a good sense of direction.
Try to create a melody with the solo and then build on it. Some of the best solo's out there are the ones that are hummable, and almost vocal sounding. The ones that stick in your head.

You could start by creating a simple melodic line and gradually building up on it, making it bigger, stronger and more powerful. Check out the end solo in Floods by Pantera to hear what I mean.

Also, dont be afraid to repeat things from earlier in the song. It can actually help the song to sound more strong and connected.

If the song has vocals, use some stuff from the vocal melody in your solo.

Thinking about dynamics, playing louder, quieter, harder, softer etc at different points in the solo.

Dont be afraid to sustain a long or rest for a long period of time. This can actually help add great anticipation to a solo and gives the listener a chance to process what they are hearing.

Use simple, repetitive licks. Jimmy Page does this a lot.

Save the highest notes till the end. You want your solo to keep moving. If you go to the top straight away you can only go backwards.

You could try building a melodic line in one octave, building on it, and then repeating it an octave higher.

I hope some of these ideas help.
having a certain theme thrown in once or twice can help keep it fresh.
think of the guitar as your voice
when you talk you just dont keep yapping nonstop
you have to pause and breathe and all that fun stuff
have some breathing room
think of David Gilmour type of solos where he just really milks a note for a long amount of time, if you pull it off well itll sound great
Either a) break it up into parts that blend together, or b) have harmonic movement, where the rhythm section switches the backing halfway.

Believe it or not, a really good place to look for well-done, longer solos would be Metallica's first 4 albums. For example, B is represented very well in Whiplash (off Kill Em All). The first half of the solo is over the bridge section, I believe like 16 bars of that. Then the song goes into the first half of a verse riff where Jame's doesn't sing, and as soon as the solo's over the singing part of the verse starts. It's a clever use of time and keeps the song flowing well while still allowing Kirk to wank and have his spotlight.

The best thing overall is to imagine context, as well. Don't put a shred solo over a ballad, and don't do a blues solo over grindcore - just use your ear and common sense. In addition, listen to the music as a fan and think "What would I like to hear right here?" and fill that role as well as you can. This is important for both composition and improvisation, so represent yourself - and your band - as well as you possibly can when these soloing opportunities arise.
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Last edited by Hail at Nov 4, 2011,
Not reached this stage myself so I can't give great tips but take a listen to gary moore - empty rooms (stockholm 1987) for so ideas
Listen to the outro solo on Dream Theaters "The Best of Times". For longer solos, you just have to make it fit, but also have a melody that you can fall back on.
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Sing the solo you're playing (with the exception of fast runs that are impossible to sing.) It helps with keeping melodic ideas flowing.
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