#1
Hey fellas,

I just tried writing my own solo for the first time, made a few cool licks in the Key of E, and practiced them slowly for about a week so they all sounded pretty decent, then, strung them all together... Needless to say, it sounded like an ogre having sex with a dog while getting hit by a train. Does anyone have any tips on how to string together licks/ ideas for a solid solo?

I know that someone is bound to say: "Make sure you know the chords!" Frankly, I haven't put my 'solo' over chords yet, because I want to hear it all put together before I put it over chords. It's also worth noting that I don't know theory at all, and can't afford a teacher, as college is coming up too fast, and I'm trying to save.

And I know someone will say: "Learn theory," believe me, I've been trying for probably about a year now, and I've used too many sources to count. I start off strong, then hit a wall after about a week or even a month of studying a specific source, and whatever I do, I simply cannot get down what the source is teaching. Thanks in advance!
#2
Don't think of licks as what make up a solo.

A melody makes up a solo.

Think of a lick as an interesting way to get from one note to another - that you wanted to get to anyway.

What are some solos that you really like?
#3
Quote by Biebsy
Hey fellas,

I just tried writing my own solo for the first time, made a few cool licks in the Key of E, and practiced them slowly for about a week so they all sounded pretty decent, then, strung them all together... Needless to say, it sounded like an ogre having sex with a dog while getting hit by a train. Does anyone have any tips on how to string together licks/ ideas for a solid solo?
Well, I would say your issue was that you constructed a bunch of different licks and then combined them all. See, the key to a solo is making sure everything connects.

An excellent way to do that is to think of a solo as a melody, as HotSpur suggests. A lot of great guitar players will start off with a simple melody and then use licks as embellishments to this melody. For example, consider this instrumental piece by Steve Vai:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiTXGswyAls

Notice how it starts out with a very strong melody line. Then, he gets fancy with things for a bit (but you can still hear the basic melody, really). And finally, he returns to the melody before the finale.


Another good way to form a basis for solos is to create a short motif, which is a short note phrase that you use to branch off of. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motif_(music)) So, say a short, simple lick. Then, branch out from that idea.

Both of these approaches have the advantage of everything being connected, because you have a "base" that is your theme.


And I know someone will say: "Learn theory," believe me, I've been trying for probably about a year now, and I've used too many sources to count. I start off strong, then hit a wall after about a week or even a month of studying a specific source, and whatever I do, I simply cannot get down what the source is teaching. Thanks in advance!

I wouldn't worry a ton about this. One year is not enough to study all theory out there. But may I suggest something simple?
www.musictheory.net has lessons. The advantage of this site is that it starts off with the basics and then ends with intermediate stuff.
#4
In regards to learning theory, if you're doing without your guitar and just trying to read and understand, I find it doesn't always go as well. I had tons of trouble learning theory at first until I took small steps, which at each I applied directly to the guitar to hear what I was reading.
#5
Quote by HotspurJr
Don't think of licks as what make up a solo.

A melody makes up a solo.

Think of a lick as an interesting way to get from one note to another - that you wanted to get to anyway.

What are some solos that you really like?

There ya go.
A lick is thrown in when you need a fill.

A solo is a statement. A thought to be expressed. A riff is a line that needs no thought to execute.
#6
First you need a backing track that you play the solo over. Listen to the backing track first. You can't play similar stuff over all backing tracks because they have a different feeling. Some backing tracks need slow playing, some need fast. Some need long sustained notes with vibrato and bends. You can't just play random stuff and hope for it to fit the music. Think melodically. Try to hear something in your head. You need to know your backing track to play over it.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#7
"Make sure you know the chords!" Frankly, I haven't put my 'solo' over chords yet, because I want to hear it all put together before I put it over chords.

ROFL
You know that putting the same melody in different harmonic context will completely change the sound?
#8
Quote by HotspurJr
Don't think of licks as what make up a solo.

A melody makes up a solo.

Think of a lick as an interesting way to get from one note to another - that you wanted to get to anyway.

What are some solos that you really like?

Let's see... I like Domination by Pantera, Ride The Lightning by 'Tallica,Eruption of course, a few a7x songs (don't make fun of me), but those are the only ones that pop right off the top of my head.
#9
Quote by MaggaraMarine
First you need a backing track that you play the solo over. Listen to the backing track first. You can't play similar stuff over all backing tracks because they have a different feeling. Some backing tracks need slow playing, some need fast. Some need long sustained notes with vibrato and bends. You can't just play random stuff and hope for it to fit the music. Think melodically. Try to hear something in your head. You need to know your backing track to play over it.

Lol, I tried and it only sounds worse.
#10
A solo doesn't "have" to have chords underlying it or even have to flow "melodically" from one note to another, take hendrix's woodstock solo for example, but you might consider some sort of "theme" or structure so it doesn't come off sounding all random and uninspired... forget theory if that's not ya thing right now (look at hendrix, victor wooten, eddie van halen etc) not knowing theory never stopped them!

I liked your post man!!
#11
Quote by Biebsy
Hey fellas,

I just tried writing my own solo for the first time, made a few cool licks in the Key of E, and practiced them slowly for about a week so they all sounded pretty decent, then, strung them all together... Needless to say, it sounded like an ogre having sex with a dog while getting hit by a train. Does anyone have any tips on how to string together licks/ ideas for a solid solo?

I know that someone is bound to say: "Make sure you know the chords!" Frankly, I haven't put my 'solo' over chords yet, because I want to hear it all put together before I put it over chords. It's also worth noting that I don't know theory at all, and can't afford a teacher, as college is coming up too fast, and I'm trying to save.

And I know someone will say: "Learn theory," believe me, I've been trying for probably about a year now, and I've used too many sources to count. I start off strong, then hit a wall after about a week or even a month of studying a specific source, and whatever I do, I simply cannot get down what the source is teaching. Thanks in advance!



The biggest mistake I see people make is that they're unwilling to be a beginner. They jump right into building the top of their skyscraper, but have neglected to build the foundation, so the whole thing tumbles to the ground. Often over and over again.

Learn some songs, learn some solos, use your ears, use your brains. And I bet you could afford lessons if you really wanted to. Most people can, but end up spending it on gadgets and xbox games instead.
#12
Quote by tonibet72
A solo doesn't "have" to have chords underlying it or even have to flow "melodically" from one note to another, take hendrix's woodstock solo for example, but you might consider some sort of "theme" or structure so it doesn't come off sounding all random and uninspired... forget theory if that's not ya thing right now (look at hendrix, victor wooten, eddie van halen etc) not knowing theory never stopped them!

I liked your post man!!

Are you talking about Hendrix's famous "Star Spangled Banner" solo? Because the basic melody is obviously "Star Spangled Banner".
#13
Quote by tonibet72
A solo doesn't "have" to have chords underlying it or even have to flow "melodically" from one note to another, take hendrix's woodstock solo for example, but you might consider some sort of "theme" or structure so it doesn't come off sounding all random and uninspired... forget theory if that's not ya thing right now (look at hendrix, victor wooten, eddie van halen etc) not knowing theory never stopped them!

I liked your post man!!

Hendrix and Halen both knew theory.
#14
^ not fashion theory...

Quote by MaggaraMarine
First you need a backing track that you play the solo over. Listen to the backing track first. You can't play similar stuff over all backing tracks because they have a different feeling. Some backing tracks need slow playing, some need fast. Some need long sustained notes with vibrato and bends. You can't just play random stuff and hope for it to fit the music. Think melodically. Try to hear something in your head. You need to know your backing track to play over it.


+1

To me, anyway, the backing track nearly suggests the solo. Maybe I'm just playing hackneyed clichéd stuff, but still.

Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Are you talking about Hendrix's famous "Star Spangled Banner" solo? Because the basic melody is obviously "Star Spangled Banner".


LOL
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#15
Quote by GuitarMunky
The biggest mistake I see people make is that they're unwilling to be a beginner. They jump right into building the top of their skyscraper, but have neglected to build the foundation, so the whole thing tumbles to the ground. Often over and over again.

Learn some songs, learn some solos, use your ears, use your brains. And I bet you could afford lessons if you really wanted to. Most people can, but end up spending it on gadgets and xbox games instead.


I totally understand that, and I know quite a few songs, and a good amount of solos, but lack of experience may be the cause. Another thing is lack of contact w/ other musicians. Could possibly lack of brain/ear use... Who knows? As far as lessons, most teachers ask for about 20-40$ and hour... Thats about how much I put into savings for college with about a 100$ pay-check, the rest of the 100$ does either (yes I admit it) self-pleasures, or other necessary things like feeding myself, or getting something that the family might need like Milk. Also, If I hired a teacher my folks would get mad, ESPECIALLY since the college I'm looking at is pretty steep.

However, I will take into consideration the Head/Ears part. I probably don't know enough solos as well. I like to think I can shred, however most of the cool shredders use pentatonics and such. I've been using the major scale which I believe Petrucci and only a few others use (don't quote me on that...) I suppose a lot of it comes down to laziness...
#16
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
An excellent way to do that is to think of a solo as a melody, as HotSpur suggests. A lot of great guitar players will start off with a simple melody and then use licks as embellishments to this melody. For example, consider this instrumental piece by Steve Vai:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiTXGswyAls

Notice how it starts out with a very strong melody line. Then, he gets fancy with things for a bit (but you can still hear the basic melody, really). And finally, he returns to the melody before the finale.


Another good way to form a basis for solos is to create a short motif, which is a short note phrase that you use to branch off of. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motif_(music)) So, say a short, simple lick. Then, branch out from that idea.

Both of these approaches have the advantage of everything being connected, because you have a "base" that is your theme.


I wouldn't worry a ton about this. One year is not enough to study all theory out there. But may I suggest something simple?
www.musictheory.net has lessons. The advantage of this site is that it starts off with the basics and then ends with intermediate stuff.


Thanks, I checked out hte Vai solo, and I see what you mean. Maybe I'll try it out myself.
#17
Quote by macashmack
Hendrix and Halen both knew theory.
Most players know some theory, putting together a C Major triad could constitute that, perhaps "reading music" might have been a better terminology... but point taken.
#18
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Are you talking about Hendrix's famous "Star Spangled Banner" solo? Because the basic melody is obviously "Star Spangled Banner".
...yeah his solo at Woodstock, ...but this part:
#19
Quote by tonibet72
Most players know some theory, putting together a C Major triad could constitute that, perhaps "reading music" might have been a better terminology... but point taken.

Don't worry bro, I still think what you said was helpfull!
#20
Quote by Biebsy
Thanks, I checked out hte Vai solo, and I see what you mean. Maybe I'll try it out myself.

You're welcome. It'll take a bit to get it down, but go slow. And you'll get good at it.

Quote by tonibet72
...yeah his solo at Woodstock, ...but this part:

He's just making him weird sounds with his whammy bar there. The main theme is still a well-known melody, which he goes back to. Hell, half the noises he's creating are supposed to imitate the idea of "bombs bursting in air" and such.

In Van Halen's case, he studied violin before he even picked up a guitar. Part of the piece "Eruption" (the part right before the tapping) is actually based on a Kreutzer piece. The tapping part follows classical structure and ends with a cadence. The finale is mostly just weird noises created with an effects pedal.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Apr 9, 2014,
#21
i thought he did piano. maybe he did violin too (not that it matters).

some of the other bits of eruption are ripped, too, think. cactus i think is the bit at the start. maybe more too. i think it's on the wikipedia page.

still awesome, though.

Quote by tonibet72
...yeah his solo at Woodstock, ...but this part:


drugs
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#22
Quote by Dave_Mc
i thought he did piano. maybe he did violin too (not that it matters).

Yeah, he did both.

some of the other bits of eruption are ripped, too, think. cactus i think is the bit at the start. maybe more too. i think it's on the wikipedia page.

Mhmm!

still awesome, though.

Very much so!


drugs

Acid does interesting things.
#23
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#24
Quote by Dave_Mc
i thought he did piano. maybe he did violin too (not that it matters).

some of the other bits of eruption are ripped, too, think. cactus i think is the bit at the start. maybe more too. i think it's on the wikipedia page.

still awesome, though.


drugs

+1 for Drugs.
#25
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
He's just making him weird sounds with his whammy bar there. The main theme is still a well-known melody, which he goes back to. Hell, half the noises he's creating are supposed to imitate the idea of "bombs bursting in air" and such.
Yeah certainly Sam. and if that's how you feel, cool!
Certainly nothing wrong with that (ie: your Point Of View that is)
I guess that's what makes us all different huh?
Point Of View
#26
I see they already ripped on toni about about hendrix and halen, so I kinda hate to say it, but wooten knows his theory as well. I've read his book and although he does say that a lot of people spend too much time thinking about notes and not enough on the other elements of music, he still makes it obvious that he knows theory and uses it.

And it's pretty obvious Hendrix was trying to sound like rockets and bombs. He plays the notes for "the rocket's red glare", goes crazy, then plays "the bombs bursting in air" and goes crazy again. That's not a perspective difference, that's just what he was doing.
#27
Quote by tonibet72
Yeah certainly Sam. and if that's how you feel, cool!
Certainly nothing wrong with that (ie: your Point Of View that is)
I guess that's what makes us all different huh?
Point Of View

#28
Quote by The4thHorsemen
I see they already ripped on toni about about hendrix and halen, so I kinda hate to say it, but wooten knows his theory as well....


hmm...? weird?

I have Victor here at basically the 29th minute of DVD 1. saying (verbatim):

"...i'm gonna be straight forward with you... I know... very little music theory... umm... ... ...but I do know enough that if... if i'm in G... minor... I know that I can play a G..."

...and he doesn't say it like he's just joking either... (apart from the G can be played in G minor slur)

weird? ...(perhaps he has picked it up some since then?).
#29
Hmm, I read The Music Lesson not too long ago and remember him spelling out chords and and talking about how a C and B played together could be either seen as really dissonant (minor 2nd) or really pretty (major 7th) depending on the octave. He did go on about how there aren't any wrong notes how you should pay more attention to what it sounds like than anything, but he gave the impression that he at least knew the basics. idk...

While I'm talking about it, I highly recommend that book. It does get kinda spiritual and weird towards the end, but it's really cool and I got a lot out of that book.


edit: sorry, just realized I'm kinda derailing the thread.
#30
All the sources I've seen have supported the notion that Hendrix did not know music theory.

Regardless.

Biebsy. If you have a lick you like keep playing it. Play it and play it and find the next note, the next etc. You will try some wrong ideas, some good ideas, and if you're really lucky maybe even an amazing idea.

Rather than trying to force a bunch of licks you like together. Work on each one and try to nurture it into something good over time.

Think of the lick like a seed. You can't glue a bunch of them together and call it a plant. It needs daily watering and a just enough care to grow.

You might only see dirt for a few weeks, and nothing to show your work is paying off. But with the right care and attention slowly something will reveal itself. It will only be a little bit at the start and you may not even know yet what kind of plant it is, but if you continue to treat it right it may grow into something really beautiful.
Si
#31
Quote by The4thHorsemen
Hmm, I read The Music Lesson not too long ago and remember him spelling out chords and and talking about how a C and B played together could be either seen as really dissonant (minor 2nd) or really pretty (major 7th) depending on the octave. He did go on about how there aren't any wrong notes how you should pay more attention to what it sounds like than anything, but he gave the impression that he at least knew the basics. idk...

While I'm talking about it, I highly recommend that book. It does get kinda spiritual and weird towards the end, but it's really cool and I got a lot out of that book.


edit: sorry, just realized I'm kinda derailing the thread.

Yeah, I think Wooten doesn't think theoretically - he just plays. But yeah, he does know the basics well. He just said he doesn't know a lot of theory. You don't need lots of theory knowledge to play well and write your own stuff.

And Hendrix didn't know theory. He did know the note names but I wouldn't say that's knowing theory.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#32
Quote by GuitarMunky
The biggest mistake I see people make is that they're unwilling to be a beginner. They jump right into building the top of their skyscraper, but have neglected to build the foundation, so the whole thing tumbles to the ground. Often over and over again.

Learn some songs, learn some solos, use your ears, use your brains. And I bet you could afford lessons if you really wanted to. Most people can, but end up spending it on gadgets and xbox games instead.


+1000 Monkey, you're spot on, but for the vast majority of people, this is going to be discarded, because its not what anyone wants to hear. It's too bad because it's realistic and sound.

You have to start somewhere. You get better at doing it by trying, and listening and making changes, and the more you do this, the better you'll become over time. It's not a plug in formulae, any more than knowing the dictionary makes you a good novel writer. The first thing to fix, is your understanding.

Best,

Sean
#33
Quote by 20Tigers

Think of the lick like a seed. You can't glue a bunch of them together and call it a plant. It needs daily watering and a just enough care to grow.

You might only see dirt for a few weeks, and nothing to show your work is paying off. But with the right care and attention slowly something will reveal itself. It will only be a little bit at the start and you may not even know yet what kind of plant it is, but if you continue to treat it right it may grow into something really beautiful.


you haven't done any gardening in northern ireland, have you?
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#34
Quote by Sean0913
for the vast majority of people, this is going to be discarded, because its not what anyone wants to hear.


Oh I know that.

Sometimes the things you don't want to hear are the very things you need to hear.
I'm willing to bring those things up regardless of the reception. Maybe someone will learn something...... maybe.

thanks though!
#35
Thanks a ton everybody, appreciate the replies, and even the hendrix/halen/wooten/whomever else arguments.
#36
For the TS, solos are more like melodies. Think of the main solo in Sweet Child of Mine. It follows the chords with some minor things in between to fill out the space. Once it gets into the "shredding" party of the solo, Slash still has a theme going on with it.

When you write a solo, you should have a basic melody or theme that you want to follow. Add in passing tones and licks to fill out the space when needed. Like anything else, writing composed solos take practice. Good luck, buddy!


Out of the discussion of Hendrix, VH, and Wooten, I believe Wooten actually knows a bit about theory. Even though the former two know the basics of it, Victor Wooten has a pretty firm grasp on it.

Quote by Dave_Mc
i thought he did piano. maybe he did violin too (not that it matters).


He did both, and has also recorded practically all of the keys on every VH album, most notably on 5150.

IIRC, I believe Hendrix played violin along with other instruments before picking up guitar.
Skip the username, call me Billy
#37
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?