A question for you lead guitarists out there (that's 99% of us, right? At least in our own minds!):

When you're writing a solo or a lead part, are you intentional?

Here's what I mean: generally, when I write a solo, it's all experimentation and sometimes even accidental. I'll noodle around until I find something that works. That's a valid technique; there's no right or wrong way, of course. But lately, I'm thinking I might get better results if I'm more intentional with my writing. Maybe I should preconceive the solo or part internally first and then translate it to the instrument.

What do you folks do? What's your approach? As with everything in life, what works for one might not work for another. I'm aware of this, but also interested in exploring other techniques. I suspect that the answer for a lot of us is really a Venn diagram of the above: preconceived ideas, experimentation, and happy accidents. Maybe it's just finding that sweet spot.

In any case, what's your process?


(It occurs to me that these same questions could be asked of any type of writing... not just solos and leads!)
Last edited by muelco at Feb 15, 2017,
Mainly, when I'm writing a solo, I just make a loop of the progression I'll be playing over and just improvise over it for a couple hours. I record it all and listen to it later and pick out anything that stands out and sounds good. I do the same thing to get new ideas for songs, but when I'm coming up with a song as a whole, I'll only use a couple riffs from my improv and build it from there with theory.

But sometimes, I'll just get a good idea in my head of what I want something to sound like and then try to transpose it to guitar.
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Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
The idea of "intentional" to me just means deliberate, on purpose, consciously constructed or chosen; so it includes everything from a fixed note for note solo to real-time improvised solos. The difference is whether I spend minutes in a practice session or the fractions of a second between phrases as I perform. In both cases I am constructing and making choices for the solo.

The idea of "writing" suggests wanting to remember something... The way I make sense of it all is to use the word "composing" to cover what I create in practice sessions and during performance, and "writing" to mean examining what I recall of performance during practice for exploring more possible ideas.

"... a good idea in my head of what I want something to sound like..."

^^^ That is how I do it.
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