Here's something I borrowed, and refer to often:
Learn Guitar Solo - Improvising Tips

Whether you learn guitar solo or improvising in rock, country or jazz, patterns and shapes are the mainstay of most guitarists' teaching and playing. It's great that a pattern can be manipulated to function in different keys, but the down side is the guitarist has no perspective of exactly what they're playing.

It's a quick and dirty way to get started and often an effective tool, but there comes a time when this style of learning guitar solo and playing breaks down. This situation most commonly occurs when guitarists attempt to play jazz or any style of music that involves multiple variations of chord structures.

This "slide rule" concept of moving shapes and patterns usually ends up with the guitarist performing a disjunct non-melodic solo. Having difficulty "making the changes" is a major problem for most guitarists attempting the transition from just playing licks and riffs to becoming a creative guitar improviser.

What is generally lacking for most guitarists is a strong sense of chord tone knowledge.

Horn players generally develop a strong melodic chord tone sensibility in the beginning stages of their development, but most intermediate to advanced guitar students are in the dark when it comes to chord tone placement and fretboard harmony. Because of the labyrinth of unisons the guitar fingerboard avails, it truly can be confusing enough to make a Zen master cry.

To develop this chord tone sensibility, start by taking a chord progression and develop a clear melodic solo using only chord tones. At first this will tend to be quite awkward, as you will not be able to rely on favorite licks or technical fretboard wizardry. It is generally helpful to list the notes in each chord next to the symbol when first attempting this exercise. It's well worth the hassle as you will be amazed at the creativity and new dimensions your performance abilities will take.

Follow these suggestions and listen to what transpires:

1. Don't consciously try to play arpeggios. Use silence as a tool to create mood and form as opposed to filling up the measures with notes.

2. Use as much of the fingerboard as possible. Do not stay in any one area of the guitar for more than a phrase or two. Using the whole neck may feel awkward and goes against the principle of "economy in motion," but it will give you an individual sound that adds character and definition to your playing.

3. Don't try to use every note in the chord before it changes. Pick and choose the notes you use by letting your ear be your guide.

4. Don't get stuck in a rut by using the same chord tones or silences in the same section each time you practice.

5. All chord tones sound good, but the 3rd and 7th degrees define a chord's texture and will make for the strongest sound. These are often referred to as guide tones or color tones.

6. Stepwise motion (either half or whole) sounds particularly good when chords change.

7. Writing improvisation-style solos is a good academic exercise, but get away from it as soon as possible because it can bog you down. Work off the fingerboard. It's helpful to make a chart of all the notes on the fretboard to keep in front of you at all times.

8. Take your chord tone solo and, using your ear, play notes connecting your chord tone ideas with scale tones and chromatic approaches. If you're unsure of what to do, rely on your ear.

9. Record yourself often, but put the tape aside and listen with a constructive ear at a later time. Date your tapes and make a "journal" of phrases and ideas you feel are particularly good. Good players have their own individual library of phrases and sounds that are unique to them. As soon as you can start developing your own phrase library, the better off you are.
Part 2:-Chords and Improvising.

At the risk of making a statement that makes things sound just too simple, I will make it anyway. If you can play chords you can improvise!

Improvising a jazz solo is basically about playing a melody over chords. So therefore one has to know chords. If you play on the notes (chord tones) of the relevant basic or "vanilla" chord in a given situation, you are using the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes, so you already have 4 notes to use out of the 7 notes in a scale. Then you connect those chord tones using whichever notes (passing tones) sound right to you. They will be probably the 2nd,4th and 6th notes of the scale, (more commonly thought of as the 9th,11th,13th) plus perhaps some chromatics, use the phrasing that sounds right to you and you're well on the way.

Putting it another way and perhaps more accurately, to improvise a jazz solo you play the basic arpeggio of the relative chord and connect the notes using passing notes (a combination of scale tones and chromatics). Taking that thought to the extreme, you don't even have to know any scales at all in order to play a solo really! I am not however saying that is the way to go, I am merely making the point that you would be able to play any solo based on connecting the notes of the arpeggios. As I said earlier, your choice of passing tones and the timing you employ is what makes the difference. Just to push home the point a bit more, I remember once I was studying the transcription of a Tal Farlow solo, and the transcriber detailed his idea of the scales that Tal would have used.

It was a tune in 'F' and he put down the notes of a scale which he then called 'Bb Lydian Dominant'. What it was in fact, and I'm sure it's the way Tal would have thought of it, was simply the dominant chord 'Bb7' or 'Fm7', which you will see later on is a possible substitute chord for 'Bb7'. He used the 'b5' note (E) as a passing note which is why the transcriber came up with a fancy scale name! I mean can you imagine Tal or any of the others thinking to themselves in the middle of a solo, "I think I'll play a lydian dominant here". What nonsense!

Another very important thing is, always think only about the most basic form of the chord, the 'vanilla chord' as it's often called, when soloing. In other words, simply the major, minor or seventh forms of the chord, accentuating or 'targeting' where possible the third and seventh notes of the chord, as the 3rd and 7th give a chord it's character. Don't ever try to think of the altered and extended form of the chords when you're playing a solo. You don't have the time to think about that and in any case the instrument or instruments playing the harmonic background will be playing all the necessary alterations and extensions to the chords.

When you are practising the arpeggios and passing tones, always make sure you are aware of the appropriate chord by playing it and then the arpeggio and passing notes so that you are always aware of the relationship and have the sound of the chord in your mind. In fact try to develop the habit of singing along as you solo, either the phrase you hear in your mind or at least the timing. It is a huge help with the whole feel of what you're doing.

The other thing is, when playing a solo, its all about tension and resolution. You can think of it as creating contrast or light and shade. I am sure you have all heard about or read about the 2-5-1 progression and playing over a 2-5-1. Some teachers as well as countless instruction books teach you various runs or licks to play over a 2-5-1. I urge you, use those lessons only as a guide and do not learn runs or licks off parrot fashion (not that I'm implying that a parrot could play the guitar). Otherwise you might fall into the trap of trying to fit the lick in somewhere and then find it does not fit or you forget it and then find you cannot play anything of you own as you have tended to rely on the licks. Panic stations! In fact firstly with a 2-5-1, forget the 2! The 5-1 cadence is the most important thing as it symbolizes tension and resolution and is an integral part of all music. So you can actually reduce all chords into just two categories i.e tension or resolution. The tension chords want to go somewhere, in other words to the resolution chord associated with it. By doing this you simplify the whole approach to constructing a solo.


cheers happy reading

melodic control is excellent, but read his first^