#1
Why is it that so many guitar wizards (for lack of a better term) play all their solo's as far up the neck as possible, like from the 14th to the 22nd frets. Those notes sound thin and are hard to reach comfortably. I just wonder why that is. I like to stay pretty much from the nut down to about the middle of the neck, I seldom go past the 12th fret. I must be missing something.
#2
Because it's scientifically true that higher notes give more energy and are more exciting, so for a big solo it makes perfect sense. It demonstrates greater range, especially if you're moving all over the neck, it's easier to bend/slide/legato/stretch/etc further up the neck, and it also helps with note separation and being heard over the bass, drums and rhythm players.

BTW the term you're looking for is guitar virtuoso. And you're only looking at one group of players, most blues, country and jazz guitarists will solo just about anywhere, up high, or really close to the nut. It's all taste and context.
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#3
Lots of reasons. For one thing, the higher notes separate from the mix better, so the solo's generally more audible over the rhythm playing, especially for bands with more than one guitarist or another instrument that shares that frequency range. And if the solo's supposed to serve as the climax of the song, building up to the higher notes will contribute to that effect. I've also heard it said that the most impressive-sounding licks are generally ones that cover a wide range of notes in a short time, which is obviously easier where the frets are closer together.
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#4
Because your guitar has at least 21 frets and 6 strings so you might as well make use of them. Remember, the guitar is a musical instrument - guitarists don't approach playing in terms of "I will play something in x position, hope it'll sound good", they approach it in terms of "I want to make this sound, where do I need to play to get it"

It's true that there's a lot of note duplication on the guitar, but in terms of things like relative note position the simple answer is because it's the most convenient and practical place for them to play the notes they want to play.
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#5
you're right about the notes sounding thin, that's why people use a separate channel for leads, to give it more beef (that would normally be too much for rhythm playing)
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#6
Lots of good explanations already, but I would also add that it really depends a lot on the guitar (and how you hold it) whether those notes are "hard to reach". Those notes would be hard to reach on many acoustic guitars for example, but are much easier to reach on any guitar with a "cutaway" which is specifically designed to allow easier access to those high frets. The easiest of all IMO are "Flying V/King V" style guitars. They give you effortless access to those frets.

I think it's also easier to use those frets if you have your guitar more centered (either standing or classical sitting position) instead of sitting on your right leg.
#7
I loved my brand new acoustic-electric simply due to the fact that it has a cutaway on it, which lets me cover and do higher-toned songs as a result. On my pure acoustic, no cutaway at all, so can't reach higher frets anywhere near easily or on time.

-Sharky
#9
I did recently consider that point, Tony, and you've got a very good point there. Even small differences in how far apart the frets are, relatively, can have much changes in how one plays and how one does solos and such. Not that they automatically do, but that they have the potential for it.

-Sharky
#10
Some people play in the upper register for all of the good reasons above, and some play up there because they have only paid attention to solos that use the upper register. I can't say how many times I've been at gigs or open jams and heard solos that were stunted by the over-reliance on one position way up on the neck (I'm looking at you, 12th position).

A really important part of learning any instrument is how to make musical choices in terms of timbre, register, and dynamics. Every string has a "sweet spot" that gets progressively further up the neck as the strings get thinner, and you get different tone above and below it. You choose what position you want to play each note based on what tone you want. If you're going for typical rock/metal tone, you'll probably want to stay above the sweet spot to maintain thickness. If you're trying to play some twangy stuff, you might stay below it to accentuate the overtones. With so many unisons on the guitar, you can play the same lick with 3 or 4 totally different tonal qualities. It's good to remember and practice those options.
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 8, 2016,
#11
Yep. It's all in the matter of how and what one plays

Personally, I like the lower fretted stuff because that is usually what I go with. Solos that take me WAY beyond the 12th fret are ones I rarely do, so I generally avoid them if I can. To each their own, though

-Sharky
#12
Generally, my favorite solos heard and played make use of all registers. The only part of the guitar I avoid are the frets 18+ on the wound strings. I don't like the tone of the notes there, and try to avoid that area. Its also hard to reach that area, so its a good thing I don't like that tone. Still, it has its place.

A solo like Comfortably Numb, which builds in the lower registers and climaxes in the upper registers is just perfect to me. Of course, there are also exceptions,, but that general form is what I fell in love with, and try to replicate. It shouldn't be overused though, and part of becoming a good guitar player is knowing when and where to use the different parts of your guitar. The same thing can be played in multiple areas, but each have their own sound and its necessary to learn those sounds and figure out how to use them. This is different than say, the piano, where no note overlaps, and to play something in the same octave you hear requires the same part of the piano every time. I see this as just another expressive advantage guitar has over other instruments, in the same category as being able to bend notes, etc.