Of late I've been working on a solo of mine for a song. This particular solo is the first solo I've made that is fast and has that "Slashish" sound. I've got solos that sound good but they aren't fast. For the slow ones, it's rather easy to create rhythm guitar for the background.

However, in the solo I recently finished it's EXTREMELY hard to make a rhythm guitar for the background that sounds right and good.I don't know how to approach it because the solo itself is somewhat "unnatural" meaning it's not following some basic scales, take C Major scale. Should I start using some fancy chords for the rhythm guitar? I also don't seem to find a fitting rhythm. At some point it's fitting to play a chord for 2 seconds but then suddenly there's a part which gives max 0.1 seconds for the chord and often I would even have to fill that 0.1 seconds with two chords.. If I played the chord longer than that then it would not sound good anymore.

Does a solo always have to have a rhythm guitar in the background? I can't think of any solos for example by Slash, Kirk or Dimebag that have no rhythm guitar.

I hope someone understood something, this is just starting to get annoying ._.
Last edited by Billie_J at Oct 13, 2015,
pretty sure nobody but the 80s shredders stuck in the past write guitar solos without a song to lay it into first.

it's just an egocentric way to make music. even if you get something that sounds "good", the whole song is just gonna be built around an excuse for you to wank, and believe me, the audience can usually tell
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Last edited by Hail at Oct 13, 2015,
^ Yeah. Sounds like a pretty odd way of writing songs. (Sounds like something Yngwie Malmsteen would do.)

But whatever works for you, I guess...

No, a solo does not need to have a rhythm guitar behind it. Just listen to Domination or Walk by Pantera or some Van Halen stuff (Panama, Somebody Get Me a Doctor, You Really Got Me, In a Simple Rhyme... They have a lot of stuff without rhythm guitar - I guess the whole David Lee Roth era was pretty much recorded live in studio). Steve Vai's "The Audience Is Listening" only has drums behind the solo. But that's a show off part, that's the whole point of it.

But if you feel like it would sound better with a rhythm guitar, not coming up with anything is not a reason not to have a rhythm guitar part.

It would be interesting to hear the solo, could you post a link?

It's of course different if the solo has a clear melody like in Sweet Child O' Mine. The solo is based on a melody - it's not just licks played one after another. That's not strange at all, and if that's the case, it makes sense to write the melody first. You don't need a rhythm track for that. But most of the time solos are played over a rhythm track, the rhythm track is not played over the solo.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Oct 13, 2015,
Yes, this could be a case of "melody first, chords second", which is perfectly valid.
Especially because this is clearly a "written" solo - not an "improvisation" in the usual sense (developed from an existing piece of music).

This is kind of a semantic issue, but could be useful to define terms...

Improvisation - as mentioned above - does usually mean working from an existing composition: "soloing" over existing chord changes, involving referring to those changes in some way, even if only using a scale they imply.

Composition: means creating a piece from scratch. Could be a vocal melody, a chord sequence - or it could be a piece of lead guitar playing.

Solo: means "one player", or "unaccompanied". Not necessarily "improvised". Could easily apply to a composed lead guitar part, with no chords (yet) - as in the OP's case - as well as to something a guitar player improvises over some existing chords.

Of course, the complicating factor is that "composition" usually begins from noodling around (improvising from scratch), while "improvisation" can be seen as composing on the spot (limited only by the context). (And guitar solos on rock records, while ostensibly "improvised", are usually "composed", by pasting clips of many takes together; and then repeated note for note when playing live, just like any "composition".)

Without hearing it, all I'd say is that not every note in the solo needs to have an appropriate chord. It's best for a chord accompaniment to have a good groove, and sound good in its own right as a chord sequence. If there are brief moments where no sensible chord seems suitable, one could just leave a break, and come back where a chord can be made to fit more easily.

But like MM says, it would be good if we could hear it, to give better advice.
I do have everything else done if you thought I didn't. I wrote the solo the last. And unfortunately I can't share it here because I don't have any good recording stuff. With a phone recorder it wouldn't sound good.
Last edited by Billie_J at Oct 13, 2015,
If you have everything else done then you should have the chords underneath the solo haha.

if you actually have solo lines that you have worked out, and there's currently no accompaniment written, you need to learn how to harmonize a melody, and one that doesn't appear to be in a single scale/key at that (according to your analysis). And that's gonna take some serious training.
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