hey guys ive been racking my brain trying to figure out the modulation in the guitar solo for Californication by the Chili Peppers.

I've figured out that the tonal center changes from Am to F#m, which seems like an odd key change.

As far as i can see, Frusciante has modulated to the relative minor of the parallel major.
Does this sound right?
Can anyone help me understand why this sudden change of tonic doesn't sound out of place?

I'd have to listen to the song again to confirm the key change, but otherwise you can change between any key you want smoothly if you play it with conviction and ideally employ chord voices that lead to and a melody that sounds natural with the change.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
It just goes from Am to A major, man.

:EDIT: You already figured it out, I missed that part of your post. Amaj/F#min
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Last edited by Svennz at Nov 7, 2013,
You can make pretty much any modulation sound right if you use the right notes leading up to it - you generally start to use accidentals from the second key one or two bars before the change. The easiest changes are to parallel (as in Californication) or Dominant keys (G to D)
Modulating in thirds is really common and it can be done pretty easily (just jumping straight to the next key). It of course doesn't fit all songs/parts and you need to use your ears. Some songs just need a modulation - they wouldn't work any other way.

An example of another similar kind of modulation (but it's just a third up instead of a third down): Iron Maiden - Aces High. It actually has a lot of modulations - the intro is in F#m and it modulates to Am. And when the verse starts, there's a modulation to Em and then back to Am. Pre-chorus is again in Em, same with chorus. But there's a modulation to Gm in chorus. After the chorus it modulates to Am (guitar solo) and then to Bm (another guitar solo) and back to Am. Every key change is just a straight jump to the next key. But as you can hear, it still sounds pretty smooth. Though why it may sound so good here is because the chorus progression is Em-C-D and the D chord also functions as the dominant for Gm.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Nov 7, 2013,