Hi this is my first post and this may be a stupid question, but... I have been playing guitar and reading tabs for a while and I would say I'm intermediate. I have started to make my own music and in it I would like to include a guitar solo, nothing crazy as the sort of music I'm making is pretty chilled. I just don't get how to create a solo that sounds good together, I know I could just do it by ear but I want to know if there is a method to this??? Do you play through a scale choosing what chords you want or do you just mess around until you get something. Sorry if this is a stupid question just wanted to know. Thanks!  
This might sound ridiculous.. Play the backing track and sing the solo with your mouth. "write" solos with your mouth while you're in the shower or wherever it is your creativity strikes. When you have something that sounds good to you then record yourself singing it.. Once you have recorded yourself singing it then you can work it out by ear and transpose it to guitar. I recommend this method to essentially anyone asking this question that has trouble expressing their creativity. It's a way less experienced players can immediately put what's in their head on the guitar.

It's incredibly difficult unless you're very experienced to play what immediately comes to your head on the guitar. Essentially no beginner to intermediate player can immediately articulate on the guitar what they hear in their head. It takes an exceptional amount of time and discipline. Personally I find my most creative work generally comes to me whilst I'm "singing" along in the shower. Unfortunately I'm too lazy to record these ideas, but if you're really keen on writing your own music I would highly suggest giving it a go. Best of luck
Last edited by vayne92 at Aug 7, 2017,
Oh man, it's not a stupid question at all, but for what might seem like it should be a simple answer, it's actually one of the most involved questions about music.

So I don't have time for a full length answer, and I hope someone else will pick up on what I say later, but I'll say a couple of things:

Learning theory will tell you what notes will sound "good".  It will tell you what notes traditionally go with what chords and everything like that.

The problem is though, no amount of theory can tell you what to play.  Only you can say what notes will sound the way you want them to, and when it comes down to it that's the most important part of all music: that it ends up sounding the way you want it to.

That's not to say that you should mess around until you find something that sounds vaguely like you want it to; theory and applying it to the guitar will, with work and practice, allow you to think of a sound in your mind and play that on the guitar, because you'll be able to put names to the sounds and once you've got a name on the sound you'll easily be able to find it on the instrument.

Like I say, what I've said is a pretty surface-level explanation of things, and I hope someone else can pick up the torch, but I hope this goes some way towards explaining it.

EDIT: vayne92 actually has a very good tip there: singing the solo you want to play and recording it is a super good way to get the solo you want to hear.  You will need to work on getting that on to the guitar, transcription is its own skill, but it's absolutely worth every second of effort it takes.
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Not a stupid question at all, though a complete answer would require much more than a comment on a forum.

I would suggest that to get stated 1) Use a major or minor pentatonics when you solo over a major or minor key, respectively. Pentatonics have the notes that may sound dissonant in relative to the key missing, thus it's easier not to hit the right notes  2) Use very few notes but get the most out of each note through bending, vibrato, ho/po, slides etc.

These are not the only ways to solo of course, there are many. But I believe using a few notes from a Pentatonic scale is the most efficient way to break through the world of soloing.
In the first half of the last century, the predominant method of composing popular music was to begin with a melodic idea and then build the harmony to support it. This approach had a distinctive result that the melody naturally fit the chords, and to make that happen some very nice unusual and unlikely chord changes were discovered and used to keep the melody line sounding right. The melody might very well come from the whim of a singer, leaving the heavy lifting to a composer placing the right chords to carry that melody... this resulted in some beautiful songs with some rather sophisticated composition going on beneath them.

The second half of the last century up through today switched over to the opposite way of composing, for the most part. Songs were now constructed as progressions first, with their implied harmonic possibilities already fairly locked-in by the time the melody lines and solos came to be added. This put a lot of restrictions in the melodies which are easy to notice when comparing to the earlier way. One of the characteristics of this restriction is the eventual feeling of "running out of melodic ideas" because so many have already filled the harmonic spaces of the progressions, and those progressions were already simpler than the old ones, in order to sound coherent on there own before applying the melody.
Now the melody lines of today sound goofy and quirky (presently enjoying a lot of octave jumping and the ubiquitous fifth-to-major third movement) because the idea pool for melodies that fit over the reduced pool of popular chord changes has the vocals and soloists all starving and scrambling for some remaining threads of creativity... they have pushed into a region of ideas that would not be one's first musical choice, but it answers the desperation to be distinctive and different. However, goofy and quirky will always sound like the artist is unskilled in their craft.

All that to the point, which is that virtually all soloing today is from the perspective of composing lines to be played over an extant series of chord changes. If the song already exist that is the situation, but if you are composing your own music you have the choice between composing the progression first and applying a solo melody; or, creating the solo melody first and developing its character free of restriction... then composing a progression of chord movements that follow the solo and make it sound the way you want.

You can do it "backwards" like that - that was the way it used to be done when the focus was the melody line. Try it solo melody first and notice if you hear a difference.
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Guitar19991999 Good advice from all above.  Starting from an empty sheet can be very challenging, waiting for that genius to come to you.

So, some knowledge of how chords and melody can be put together is very helpful here.

First question: do you understand how to create the basic chord types, and distinguish the restful from unrestful chord tones in the chord type?

Second question: do you understand about creating tension and release by what you play against a chord (or equivalently, what chord yoyu choose to harmonise part of a melody with?

For example, below I'm using knowledge of chord construction  to find  how to harmonise E4 as the highest pitch in a series of chords, so that ihe E4  formed a 13th, then 11th, then 9th, then 7th, then b7th, then 5th, then b5, then 4th, then 3rd, then b3rd, then 2, then 1.

This was purely a mental exercise, but nonetheless, produces quite a nice sounding iitial progression.  I choice to do this keeping the 5th fret, B string involved in each chord voicing (apart from a couple, for easier fingering):

e:                              0
b: 5  5  5  5   5   5  5   0      5  5  5
g: 5  7  6  5   6   5  6   7  9  4  7  4
d: 3  7  7  7   7   5  6   9  9  6  7  6
a:         5  8   9           9  7  4  5
e: 3  7               5  6       8          0

(G13  Bm11  Dmaj9  Fmaj7  F#m7  Am7  Bbm7b5  Bmadd4  Cmaj7  C#m7  Dsus2 E)

I used each interval I wanted to find the corresponding chord root (I wasn't thinking note names until I had to write down the names above), and then mucked around with a major or minor flavour mostly.

I like the sound of some of the above.  I'd lose some of it.  I'd think of a rhythm for it (the rhythm I want to hear the repeated E4 maybe.  But of course, this is just one melody note!
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 7, 2017,
You might get a more straightforward answer on how to find love and happiness than on how to play a good guitar solo!

If you want and have the time/energy to give yourself all the advantages, definitely start becoming literate in music, learning the basics of music theory, and learning the guitar solos you like. Those will give you the language to describe music, the tools to analyze it, and a repertoire of real music that you can apply your knowledge to.

But no matter what approach you take, use your ears, imitate your favorite players, and always look for patterns that you can use in your own music. The stuff you process from ear to fretboard will become your musical vocabulary and stick with you. 
Know your relevant scales and chord tones, then use that vocabulary to tell a story through melody lines that engage the listener.  Sounds simple enough...   
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

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