#1
So I've been wondering, how does Slash make the long solos which are extremely fast. For example the ending solo of Anastasia (especially the live version) is extremely long and extremely fast.

I'm able to make solos which sound good, like stairway to heaven's solo. However I would like to make solos which are fast and just have that "Slashish sound". Solos by kirk hammet for instance aren't to my taste. Yeah there isn't any magical way of suddenly learning to make solos similar to Anastasia's.

But I've just been wondering, does Slash like grab his guitar and instantly start playing a solo and then he's like " Alright, this is gonna be the solo for song x". Or, does it actually take a lot of time to form the whole solo note by note and then practising the speed. So even if he manages to form a full solo, he'll still have to practise the speed.

I honestly have no clue how to make solos like that. Sure I might manage to make a neat 10 second start but then I'm just like "OK. What now?"

Are there any good ways of approaching Solos like this? When making them, should you be thinking theoretically or just go on by ear?
#3
Slash's solos live are usually exactly the same as the record, so yes, he's thought out the parts.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#4
There's no one right answer here, I don't think.

I'm sure that there will be a whole range of approaches used, from just going for it, to planning out a route through the solo (slow here, fast here, peak there ...), to carefully considering every note, blended with a healthy mix of vocabulary that's been absorbed / developed over time, coupled with responding to the backing.

For example, I was asked to add guitars to a prog metal track (4th track on my UG profile), and I just played it once with no forethought at all. It's flat-out, high speed for about 1m 20s. Whereas I carefully planned out the guitar harmonies, and riffing.

But I do think that once a solo has been recorded, then fans will often expect to hear note-for-note reproduction of it live (so many bands fall in that camp).

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 11, 2015,
#5
He could build his solos over multiple take, recording 4 bars or something at a time until he's pleased with the result. Add good editing and no-one could tell. Or he does that, learns the solo and plays it through completely in one take.

There's so many way to do it. He probably have a vast library of licks to choose from and a lot of experience of improvising on top of similar underlying structures when he records his solos, so unless you gain that experience too, it will be very hard to come up with something along those same lines.

Sometimes you have a producer who records several minutes of a guitarplayer soloing, and then edits together the best parts without input from the player.

Quote by AlanHB
Slash's solos live are usually exactly the same as the record, so yes, he's thought out the parts.


Or he improvised them completely on the spot while recording and learned them note for note afterwards...
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Last edited by HomerSGR at Jul 11, 2015,
#6
I'm sure he could write at that speed spontaneously. He sees his fretboard in patterns and he knows how it will all sound and he just plays what he wants to hear. He might write his stuff and repeat it, but he is not writing it note per note. Although for very long sequences, it is a lot more likely he has written parts, in order to avoid any monotony because things are going so fast, but I'm pretty confident that if you showed slash a piece of predictable music he had never heard before, he could freestyle you something really fast for an extended period of time. To be able to do that, takes a lot of practice. You need to be familiar with many shapes and their sounds, and you need to have good dexterity.
#7
Well for example here he plays the solo differently at the end https://youtu.be/bu_sMqZyOTg

I seriously hate these camera men. I want to see how he fingers the fast parts like does he use pinky a lot etc.. But no, the camera man decided to zoom in at Slash's hair.. D:
#8
How is it hard to play fast? Just solo over your song for about 10+ minutes and pick the things that you want to in the official solo and practice it for hours. That's the only way you can play long solos fast. You have to know the note placement very well and the only way you can memorize it to the point of playing it at a lightning fast speed is by practicing it till your fingers bleed. Also, Anastasia's ending solo has a decent amount of one string tremolo picking in it. Many people do not know how great a solo can be by just using one string (listen to Slash's song called Beggers and Hanger's on, the solo in that song uses primarily one string and it sounds awesome) . Try to create a cool melody on one string and tremolo pick it to make it sound more complex than what it actually is. Playing fast isn't as hard as it may seem. You just have to know how to go about doing it
Last edited by J23L at Jul 11, 2015,
#9
Quote by Billie_J
Well for example here he plays the solo differently at the end https://youtu.be/bu_sMqZyOTg

I seriously hate these camera men. I want to see how he fingers the fast parts like does he use pinky a lot etc.. But no, the camera man decided to zoom in at Slash's hair.. D:


That wasn't even really all that fast. A lot of it was fast picking and not so fast fretting. He had some pretty quick parts also, but it becomes easy.

You read english, right? You don't read it letter by letter, you recognize words. You can read weird words like 'knife'. And you know that 'gh' in 'tough' doesn't sound like it does in 'though'. Really a lot of knowledge there, but it probably seems pretty easy to you most of the time, with some spelling errors here or there.

Guitar is that way. Just spending time on it, things become easier. You recognize shapes and know what they sound like. You do something that looks fast and great to someone that knows nothing and to you it's just cycling down a V and then IV chord with a couple simple embellishments.

It takes some time, to learn, and some people are natively more creative than others, and have their own style, but playing like that can be easily done spontaneously. It's not really difficult for him what he is doing. It is really easy, because he has done the work to make it easy.

A 4 yr would consider writing pretty tough, but any adult is a master. That is only half the battle though. Being able to write with ease does not make one a great writer. What they write is important, and that is an elusive secret. It's the magic of music that can't be quantified or theoretically explained.

He has spent a lot of time with a guitar in his hands. Many years, many hours, he's played a lot of those songs many many times. But the patterns and things you learn translate well from song to song anyway, so after a while it gets easy to do that. For someone else it's incredible they chose all those notes so quickly, but for them it's just a "one of those, with one of these on top" and stuff like that. Not that he is just cycling muscle memory patterns he knows, but he knows where the sounds he wants are, because he named them in some way, and developed an understanding of how they fit together. Just like if you invented a word right now, you'd be able to spell it, with an understand that extends far deeper than simply what sound 'A' makes. Right? Stall and stale, don't have the same sounding 'a', so many little things like that, but it's all easy, because of the amount of exposure you've had.

Everything is like that. Learning a new city, a new map, or race track in a video game. It's always complex and difficult at first, but then it becomes simple. When you know it, you can burn right through it.

TL;DR practice.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Jul 11, 2015,
#10
Fast licks and phrases are things that guitarrists have played many many times before, so playin' it fast becomes easy really. So, there are many licks an phrases common to rock music, slash usually uses a lot of them, although on his new albums he introduced new licks, like pedal point, i guess in Anastasia really. Anyway, it's about playing something that you played many times and that sounds good up to speed, what really matters is the rhythmic notation, so, most of the time, we see numbers that are from 2 and 3, Like 4 or 6 notes per beat, this number sound great because our music is most 4/4 compass, so every even number kinda falls in place nicely. Now it's good to vary with some odds stuff, like 5 notes per beat or 5 one time and 6 the other, making up 11. Try experimenting with that, once you get a lick down, then make it up to speed and play it in other keys/across the neck. and then bam, you have a speed lick for your solos. Now, for super long runs, it's usually putting together those smaller licks in sequence, what sounds good after the other really or your musical intention. Try to slow down slash solo and hear the patterns repeating, count the notes and try to do in your guitar, without thinking about the notes, you'll hear the feeling it gives and then think about with the beat, it will make much sense, then all you have to do is find a scale that has the sound you want, or apeggio and apply the idea. Sorry for the long answer, if you wanna ask more, go ahead. Hope it helps
#12
I will improvise quickly, and it is neither pre-determined licks, nor a slow solo played fast, to me. When you play up to a certain speed, I find that changes the perception of the solo. It's the sort of rhythm that's completely different. I think it as a quick chain and play it that way. It's like a string or kind of sections rhythmically, but a slow solo is different for me. It has more sort of freedom in rhythm and is a different beast. A lot of the time something cool played fast is boring and even weird, when you slow it down, I find.

I do play muscle memory stuff from time to time though for sure, but when you see guys solo, a lot of the time what you are hearing is things they are playing for the first time. It would be if you were listening to me, I can guarantee you that. But I'm also not really a speed demon.

If I am not coming up with enough new stuff when I improvise, I get easily bored of it. The game of improv, for me, and for solos, is to toy with music in new and interesting ways. It's not to repeat things I've done before. I get little satisfaction from that. That's the worst parts, for me.

That's whjy it is such a physical challenge. Because learning a tough lick takes some time, and another, and learning 10 cool licks would take some time, but being able to play virtually any single thing you can come up with, the second you come up with it, and it is easy for you so it is fully clean, that takes a lot of time and practice.

Learning individual things on guitar is not so bad, they go pretty fast. But it's the number of things and being able to access them on a whim that's tough.

When you watch the best guitarists in the world play, it's some crazy shit that's happening.

Sometimes you'll get shred demons that do nothing but run through 16ths they practice in order, but that's not what music is all about imo. For me it's the art and creativity of it, and there are a lot of great guitarists that are the same way, and can play at a really high skill level, and learned really a lot, and are very creative.

John Mayer is one of those. You can see in this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdNLaWKjyLw

He is improvising a lot of that. And he talks about some licks he has when you want them, but how he is trying to go out of the box, and play the sounds he is thinking. And he plays quickly, and practices new techniques, and he sits around and does that all day.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Jul 11, 2015,
#13
Quote by HomerSGR
Or he improvised them completely on the spot while recording and learned them note for note afterwards...


Potentially, but it seems a bit weird that he would learn a solo that he didn't bother to write.

I do understand that he says that he improvs the solos most of the time, but improving until you get the solo you like is just another way to write a solo. I doubt he would just keep the first thing that popped out in the studio and go "yep that's it!".
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#14
You need to have good enough technique first, so that you feel comfortable with playing fast and you don't need to think about it. If everything you need to think about is technique when playing, you can't really think musically.

You said you can play your own solos that are at Stairway to Heaven speed. Well, I guess that's the comfortable speed for you right now. When playing at that speed, you have time to think. But when your technique gets better, playing at higher speeds will not be a problem. I mean, when you had just started, I bet the solo of Stairway to Heaven felt pretty fast. Back then you couldn't have improvised at any speed, because your technique, fretboard knowledge and ears were pretty weak. Now your comfortable speed is at Stairway to Heaven solo level. But it will improve as your technique, fretboard knowledge and ears improve.


I think at faster speeds it's a lot about muscle memory. If you like Slash's style, just learn to play his solos. Usually guitarists have their signature licks that they use in their solos all the time. I know Kirk Hammett's style really well and can recognize most of his signature licks. And he has lots of them. And I know you said you don't really like his style, but it was just an example.

But solos aren't just licks played one after another. And fast stuff is not about just playing licks that you have learned. Of course when you play fast, it's easier to play a lick-after-lick solo, because the speed on its own is kind of impressive and can make boring stuff sound "cooler". But a lot of fast solos are more than just speed. I don't think the basic idea is any different from improvising slow stuff - you get musical ideas and play them on guitar. When playing fast stuff, you just need to have a better muscle memory, because you have less time to think.
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
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Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#15
Didn't finish reading your reply because I noticed you got me wrong. Stairway to heaven isn't the Max speed I can reach. I meant I'm able to make solos that sound good (just like StH does). But yeah.. The fast ones are something that I find complicated to form
#16
^This is great advice.

I dunno if Slash plays the solos the same way every time, but the guy has such a definitive style that he doesn't really deviate from, so at that point it doesn't matter. Even when he's improvising, which I'd bet he does a great deal of the time, it's still the Slash voice.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#17
Quote by Billie_J
Didn't finish reading your reply because I noticed you got me wrong. Stairway to heaven isn't the Max speed I can reach. I meant I'm able to make solos that sound good (just like StH does). But yeah.. The fast ones are something that I find complicated to form

I got that. But as I said, it may be your maximum comfortable speed (also, it was just an example - and I used it because you used it first). You can reach faster speeds than that, but when you do that, you need to focus on the technique, and you can't completely focus on the music, and that's why improvising at faster speed causes you problems. I'm pretty sure Slash feels very comfortable with playing at high speeds, and that's why he has more time to think about what to play. He doesn't need to think about how to play it.

You can't comfortably play at your maximum speed (nobody can). When you are playing at your maximum speed/close to your maximum speed, your focus is most likely on your technique. What I mean with "comfortable speed" is a speed where you don't need to focus on technique at all. You can just play. It's like strumming an open E major chord. You don't need to focus on anything to do that. And the better your technique is, the less you need to focus on technique when playing fast stuff.

I think it's the combination of technique, fretboard knowledge/muscle memory and ears. You need all of them so that you can fully concentrate on playing music, and you don't have to focus on thinking about how to get the sound you are after. I think the goal would be being able to think purely in sound, and just playing everything that you hear in your head without needing to think about it.


But yeah, your issue may not be about technique. It may also be about fretboard knowledge or ears. If you can't find the notes you hear on the fretboard/don't know what notes you hear, of course it will be difficult to improvise at higher speeds. Because at higher speed you have less time to think about stuff.

I think the right answer to your question is that you just need to practice. As I said, if you like Slash's solos, learn to play them (preferably by ear). That's the best way to learn to play like Slash.
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
#18
^Absolutely.

The fastest you can play is the fastest you can play without messing up OR having to think.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#19
Slash has been playing guitar for longer than most readers here have been alive. Add to that thousands of playing dates, and I imagine he's gotten to the point where he can play the guitar how he likes. That's how he does it. Imagine if you did anything for 30 years. You might get pretty good at it. That makes sense, right.

Best,

Sean
#20
Quote by Billie_J
So I've been wondering, how does Slash make the long solos which are extremely fast. For example the ending solo of Anastasia (especially the live version) is extremely long and extremely fast.

I'm able to make solos which sound good, like stairway to heaven's solo. However I would like to make solos which are fast and just have that "Slashish sound". Solos by kirk hammet for instance aren't to my taste. Yeah there isn't any magical way of suddenly learning to make solos similar to Anastasia's.

But I've just been wondering, does Slash like grab his guitar and instantly start playing a solo and then he's like " Alright, this is gonna be the solo for song x". Or, does it actually take a lot of time to form the whole solo note by note and then practising the speed. So even if he manages to form a full solo, he'll still have to practise the speed.

I honestly have no clue how to make solos like that. Sure I might manage to make a neat 10 second start but then I'm just like "OK. What now?"

Are there any good ways of approaching Solos like this? When making them, should you be thinking theoretically or just go on by ear?


Slash improvises - and would then re-learn key parts of the solos for shows or in studio if he's happy with a given take. You should read his book - he talks a bit about how got started. To get to where he is you need to start learning things by ear. He's from a blues and rock tradition with some gypsy guitar lines thrown in.

If you can't hear a few lines of a simple solo and instantly figure it out on guitar, then you have work to do. Kirk Hammett doesn't have the improv chops and works out his solos methodically ( or was it Lars!) - which provides a different type of solo.

Playing fast is a bit of an illusion for seasoned players because it sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. To get there, you need to learn stuff by ear so that you master connecting what you hear in your head with how to play it on guitar. Start slow. Slash learnt on early Aerosmith and, I suspect, ACDC.

It helps to follow in the footsteps of a player to really grasp the style.

For example, learning Albert King and Hendrix can make you understand where SRV is coming from.
#21
Here's the thing:

Most relatively inexperienced guitarists solo by moving their finger around in an pre-learned shape. This is, it turns out, a really hard way to remember a solo. If you're still thinking that way, it's really hard.

But good musicians don't think that way. They think in terms of SOUNDS and IDEAS.

I mean, off the top of my head, I could probably do three or four paragraphs of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. It wouldn't be perfect, but it'd be close. I've never tried to memorize that speech. Ditto for Juliet's "A rose by any other name" soliloquy, or the opening to the declaration of independence or maybe any of another two dozen bits of famous text.

On their face, these are much more complicated than a guitar solo. A guitar solo is only ever made up of 12 notes.

And the reality is that if I tried to remember those things by spelling them, I'd fall flat on my face. To write them out, I don't START from letters. I start from ideas. Those ideas are expressed in words. Those words are written in letters.

It's the same with music. I've I'm trying to learn or remember a solo by thinking in terms of notes and finger positions, I'm already dead. Instead, I think in terms of sounds, riffs (words) or ideas (themes).

Slash is actually a guitarist where it's often very easy to hear the ideas at work. This is, I think, part of why he's so popular. Let's take a listen to "Sweet Child of Mine." This isn't one of his fastest solos, but it's good to illustrate the principle.

Listen to the first solo (at about 1:30), the second solo (at about 2:30) the third solo (at about 3:30) and then the final solo (5:07).

The first two solos are very similar, right? Not only the same theme, but mostly the same riffs, with variations that go progressively further afield. It's easy to hear that these two solos share mostly the same ideas.

The third solo has a lot of the same themes, but they're expressed in very different riffs. (If you doubt this, play the main riff from the first two solos over the third solo ... and notice how well it fits.) The better your ear gets, the more connections between the different solos you'll hear.

The final solo is much further afield - it has largely new themes. The song GOES somewhere, and abandons its early themes (notice how this happens with the structure, melody, and rthyhm of the song, too).

The other thing is that all those variations in the riffs between those solos are logically connected. Let me give you an example.

You know thousands of words in the English language. But if I type a sentence like, "Sam kissed her on the _____" - how many possibilities are there for the blank? Obviously, whole categories of words don't fit, right? "Sam kissed her on the for" is nonsensical, grammatically. Verbs and conjunctions are right out. But even limiting ourselves to nouns, there are surprisingly few words that work: "Sam kissed her on the squid" makes no sense. Some works could make sense in very specific contexts (e.g., Sam could kiss her on the elephant if they were in a place where riding elephants made sense). But mostly we're limited to two types of words: places where people kiss (dance floor, boat, etc) or body parts that people kiss (lips, neck, cheek).

Because you have a level of mastery of english, the process of varying things becomes easy and quick. I can even tell a really simple story just varying that one word:

Sam kissed her on the cheek.
Sam kissed her on the hand.
Sam kissed her on the lips.

THIS is what Slash is doing in his solos on SCOM. Because he is capable of thinking in music, this sort of thing on the guitar is as easy to him as what you are I do when talking.

We might describe the first solo in SCOM as those three lines. The second, we could say, repeats them, and then says:

Sam kissed her on the patio.
Sam kissed her on the bed.
Sam kissed her places that I can't mention.

More variation, right? But it's all logically connected, it all makes sense, right?
And now, maybe, the next time through, he's varying it more, but it's still thematically connected:

Sam kissed her places I can't mention.
Sam kissed her at night and in the morning.
Sam kissed her again and again.
Go Sam, go!
Kiss her again.

Now we're getting even further afield, but it is all clearly thematically connected, right? We've broken the structure. Sam's name doesn't even appear in the final line - but you have no trouble knowing that I'm still talking about him, right? Whereas if the final line wasn't "kiss her again," if it was:

Purple monkey dishwasher.

It wouldn't fit, right?

You could memorize my little Sam story in under a minute because the ideas are clear and simple, the variations logical, and the development organic.

Most good musicians would say the same thing about their solos. The themes are clear, the variations logical, and the development organic. And because they think in music as easily as you think in English, the process of memorizing a solo is no more complicated than you memorizing my story about Sam.

So your job, when coming up with a solo, is to come up with themes that support this kind of variation - then you can extend your solo as long as you can come up with new and interesting variations that make sense. But "making sense" is only possible if you understand music, if you think in terms of sounds, rather than note names or finger positions.

If you try to write a solo without having the themes first, you're going to crash - hard, because you don't have a basis to support your improvising. You're doing the equivalent of: "Sam kissed her on the, well, something, and then he did something else and I'm not really sure, and I guess she kissed him back, maybe, and, um, sure, they had a good time, I guess."
#22
Thanks a lot. Clarified a lot and opened new gates for approaches. I'll try to cope with this.