Hey y'all.

I've been playing guitar for a while and I'm pretty decent at playing I guess. I have no trouble at all playing complicated riffs or fast metal songs. BUT. When it comes to solo's my fingers just turn to mush.

I am self taught, learning mostly by looking at youtube videos and such. I've never really done any exercises, and I wouldn't even know where to start with them. People I've asked before tell me to play scales up and down, but there is just so many times I can play a scale up and down before I start to become bored, and not really seeing much progress with them by simply doing them as they are. Dunno, maybe I'm doing something wrong? I have been playing quite a bit to backingtracks lately, and while that is fun, I find myself doing the same thing over and over, playing some lick a few times and then doing variations of them, without really getting any more accurate or faster (which is some of my goals.)

Anyway, I managed to fiddle my way through the Comfortably Numb outro solo and upload that to youtube ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNkbvnEP6Vc ) And I should point out that this is NOT note-for-note, more of a improv with some stuff from that solo thrown on there for good measure.

So I was wondering if you guys could take a look at the solo and point out any flaws that you see and then perhaps suggest what I should do to work on that. And if this isn't the correct forum for this thread I apologize and hope that some friendly mod move it to where it should be!

Hey, man. Not a bad job at all on the solo.
From what I saw in the video, it looks like a few things are going on that you could improve upon. It looks to me like you're bending with your fingers and not your wrists. When bending notes or doing vibrato, keep your finger somewhat stiff and rotate your wrist similar to how you would open a doorknob. This will reduce tension, which seems to be a problem you have that I'll get to in a second.

Also, alternate pick. You're alt picking some things, but not strictly. Grab that trusty metronome and work on your alternate picking. up down up down. go SLOW. This is common advice here for a reason. It works. Set your metronome to something silly like 40BPM and play quarter notes. One note per click. Work on your alternate picking and pay really, really close attention to what your right hand is doing. Minimize your motion as best you can while reducing your tension as best you can.

Which brings me back to tension. It looks like you're gripping your neck quite hard, which is costing you fluidity, speed and range of motion. Relax your left hand as much as possible when you play. Try this: Fire up that metronome again and go back to alternate picking. This time, for simplicity sake, just pick the same few notes over and over in quarter notes at 40 BPS. Focus on your left hand and play chromatics. One fret per beat, up and back down. Most importantly, check your fret hand tension here. Play with as LITTLE pressure as possible to sound the note out. Mess around with this a little. Take the pressure down all the way until you don't hear the note. Then play it just a touch harder. You ultimately want to exert just as much pressure as necessary to hear the note and not a touch more. You don't want a touch more tension than that.

Keep working, it takes time to get there, but it's a fun ride to be on, and well worth it. Good luck.
Last edited by RyanMW2010 at Dec 3, 2014,
Learn proper vibrato. Keep the pitch moving consistently, dont shake it around violently. Try to keep it as even as possible. Listen to some vocalists and try to imitate their vibrato, you are trying to make the guitar sing after all. Vibrato is a subtle art..

This is a vocal lesson, but the same applies for guitar when he's discussing using it sparingly to create a certain effect.

Articulation in general is important to making solo instruments sing. Steve Vai shares his thoughts on articulation throughout this video, as well as showing you some cool quirky techniques that you almost never hear.

I also recommend you learn how scales are used, not just how to play them. Also recognize that scales aren't patterns of notes, they are collections of intervals. Learn how chords are derived from scales, learn how chord progressions work. etc.

Knowing whats happening beneath your solos will help you to choose notes.

I also suggest trying to learn some more difficult songs or passages. start slow, get fast, use a metronome.
If you have GuitarPro pick out a solo you like and learn it bar by bar. Or get a slow downer like Transcribe and transcribe the solo yourself. Make sure it's a solo you really like.

Get the bends right and the timing. Play it over and over and get it up to speed.

Play it hundreds of times. In addition to this, jam over a track every day for awhile.

Eventually the licks you are learning in the solo will come out in your improvising and you will make your own changes as you go.

If you have short passages that are difficult work on them extra. Play them extra times.

Learn that solo cold so you can play it without thinking. This could/will take many months but that is what it takes.
Last edited by Virgman at Dec 4, 2014,
I'd say if you want to take it to the next level creatively then maybe learn the chords that you're playing over and try to play over the changes to make it more melodic.Learn the chord tones for each of the chords you are playing over and also a scale which works over each chord and try and create some melodies over that backing track,This can be really fun.At certain times when you do slip back into that minor pentatonic it will sound much more awesome because you are using it less.It sounds really cool to just rip out a pentatonic run like you were using that vid in between some nice melodic sounds.