Hello all you awesome people.

I am a serious guitar student, who has been learning for about two years now. I've been studying under the head of the jazz department of our local university, so I've had to work really hard. I can now play acoustic, electric, and bass guitar in various styles. So far, I've been learning just classical and jazz, but applying what I've learned on my classical guitar to my steel string, electric, and bass playing to play other genres.

I have always loved my punk rock, and recently I've acquired and interest in learning how to play hard rock/metal, especially the solos. I know that blues soloing is extremely similar to jazz soloing, but I don't know about rock soloing? Will I need to take separate lessons later to learn how to do rock solos, or will I be able to figure it out with my jazz training and the knowledge of the proper scales to use in rock? If I can get away without extra lessons (which I will probably take anyway), what scales would I use for rock/metal soloing?
Well here's the thing, I have have been playing for over 10 years now, but I just turned 17.

If you know about modes, which I'm sure you do if you're studying jazz (if you don't look it up), there are certain modes that people associate with rock and stuff, mostly because they are used more in the genres. I personally have been into djent stuff recently, (the afterimage, tesseract, era) I know, burn me at the stake, but there are awesome things I love about it. It is super heavy stuff sometimes and the rythyms and open string mashing can sounds similar a lot, but the thing about stuff like that they sort of forego all that "play this in this genre and these scales/modes"

They will incorporate tons of jazz elements like the chords and ways of looking at things, and they will use them in ways that for a long time were unconventional. I also listen to a lot of modern fusion stuff still technically in the djent genre like Plini and Chon and one thing is similar, it all has really interesting and weird sounds that sound just terrific because for a long time people never knew their theory enough to encorporate it into modern non jazz styles.

I'm no expert on theory, I've just begun to scratch the surface, but what is supposed to happen is you find the key you're in first. Then you look at the chords you have playing over top of were you want to solo. Then you find the scales/modes you wanna use and you build it from there. Now somehow you can also transition between scales and modes but it's extremely hard to do on the spot sometimes when you're improvising unless you've been doing it for a long time. It is for me and I've been playing a long time.

Basically, the way I look at it is that all melodies are a series of dynamics. There's suspense, and then there is resolution. Whether we realize we are doing it and using that to our advantage is sometimes another story, but usually whenever you hear a really cool solo there are parts that seem like filler (like crazy fast stuff) but then there are the parts that just make you eargasm. The good parts are basically when they hit chord tones (notes that the current chord being played by the rhythm consist of) and when you hit those it sounds great. Now pentatonic scales are considered very simple and boring usually, this is because they rarely allow you to play other things except chord tones. This is good an bad. It's easy to solo in pentatonic and blues, and usually sounds great. But there's the other aspect: suspense. Suspense is when you play notes other than the chord tones, (usually in more complex scales and modes) and sometimes they may eve sound dissonant. This creates suspense. When they finally hit a chord tone, it's called a resolution. This is using dynamics, and it sounds very complex but even when you're not thinking about it and just playing by ear you sort of do it. For example, using the chromatic part of the blues scale, (you know those 3 bluesy sounding notes that are just one fret/half step away from each other) can help create suspense, but if you stay there for too long it doesn't sound the best. If you stay there a bit but then move back to the root note of the key for example, it sounds really great. If you do that then congrats, you are using suspense and resolution. Another example is using the melodic minor scale. It's a minor scale with a raised 7th. This raised 7th adds a bit of chromaticism and with it, suspense. When you get up to that raised 7th, everything is waiting for you to resolve it back to the 8th/root. When you finally do, it sounds really awesome.

So even though I'm not a master, you have teachers to help answer your questions, but this is hopefully a helpful way to explain exactly what any melody is all about. Once again most people do this without realizing, they just know it sounds good.

But just forego limiting yourself to certain things, and just play cool modes and scales with some heavy distortion and try being aware of this suspense/resolution thing. Try playing some of the things I mentioned yourself and see how it feels and works/sounds. From there you can work on breaking up scales and stuff, because nobody wants to just hear scales being played up and down. Try skipping around on the scales, and using different techniques. You could play the first 4 notes of a harmonic minor scale, pause on the 4th, tremolo pick it a few times and then skip to the 7th for suspense. Then bend it up to pitch so it's the 8th/root and it resolves!

There's a completely endless possibility of things you can do. This is where your actual playing skill comes in. But the part most people forget is the mental skill and creative skill you need to understand what's going on.

Hope I helped! Keep it going! Keep up your jazz classes, it really gives you a 1 up on being able to apply more complex things. I wish my jazz teachers at my school were less stuck up and more helpful about helping me translate the lessons I could learn from jazz into diff styles
Last edited by Knight Elijah at Oct 23, 2015,
Take a look at tabs from songs you like and take a look at what the solos look like, see if it makes sense to you. I can imagine there may be some techniques that you're not familiar with.
For acdc/zeppelin/ etc you need (often) the dorian mode, mixolydian. Solos for rock bands up to the late 80s was mostly pentatonic minor, pentatonic major, blues, major blues.
If you can do jazz then I think rock theory would be easy for you.
Last edited by adetheheat at Oct 23, 2015,
Quote by adetheheat
For acdc/zeppelin/ etc you need (often) the dorian mode, mixolydian. Solos for rock bands up to the late 80s was mostly pentatonic minor, pentatonic major, blues, major blues.
If you can do jazz then I think rock theory would be easy for you.

There are of course certain modes and scales that sound more metal then others. But I think for the purpose of sounding unique, you should also see if you can challenge yourself to use modes and scales that aren't usually found in metal or rock and then use traditional metal/rock distortion tones and techniques over it to turn it into rock/metal