Basic Tips On Guitar Solos

If your having trouble with writing your own guitar solos, then here's a few basic tips on how start off.

Ultimate Guitar
Right, this is mainly for the newbies in the guitar industry, but if your a pro who just wants to see whether my article's actually got some useful info in, that's ok by me. The first thing that you need to know is the scales of the chords that you're playing your solo in (ie, the chords in the song all together). I'm going to give you some of the moveable positions for certain scales. This means that the position will be the same all the way up the fret board. The "x"'s mark the pattern on the fret board. The scales are shown at the bottom of this article. Now that I've given you a few patterns, you've got to know what to do with them. The scales and positoins are important if you are ever going to come up with a guitar solo. Most solo's are based around these scales. Even using a mere 5 notes, you can come up with a good one. When you listen to solo's, you'll find that there are alot of repeated notes. Hang on to this point because not every solo is as complicated as Jimi Hendrix made his (bearing in mind that he could make a bar over the frets with his thum and still play normally!). Out of personal experiance, try not to jump around the fret board. It only makes playing more difficult. If I were you, stick to one area, preferably the higher part of the scales. There is no need for you to cram a million notes into a few seconds either (unless you're trying to set a new record). Keep it quite simple and not only will it sound better, but you will be doing yourself a favour by not working your fingers so hard, that your tendons snap. The major pentatonic scale pattern: e:----------------------------x-----x- b:----------------------x-----x-----x- g:-------------------x-----x---------- d:-------------x-----x-----x---------- a:-------------x-----x---------------- E:-------x-----x-----x---------------- The blues scale pattern: e:-------x--------x------------------- b:-------x--------x------------------- g:-------x-----x--x------------------- d:-------x-----x---------------------- a:-------x--x--x---------------------- E:-------x--------x------------------- The normal major scale pattern: e:-------------x-----x--x------------- b:-------------x--x-----x------------- g:----x-----x--x-----x---------------- d:----x--x-----x---------------------- a:-------x-----x---------------------- E:------------------------------------ Remember: stick to the scale patterns, don't jump around the fret board and keep it simple by repeating notes.

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61 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I disagree about keeping it in one position, that will only make for a boring solo in my opiion. You need to start maybe low for example then peak at the top then fall back or fall back then peak again at the end, Or maybe start at the top and bring it halfway down or whatever the possibilities are endless. But other than that it's alright,
    Thanks for the comments (the ones that were good anyway), maybe when I write other articles I'll put in more detail. I just thought that what's there would do for those starting up. Oh well.... Blistabass, your lameness is lame
    well soz to those who think its a load of bollocks but i did stress the meanin of the article u dipwads. OK, im not an expert at guitar but im still learnin. for f*cks sake its taken me 7 years to learn everythin i hav an i thought that this wud b enough 4 beginners. sorry if i out in things that shud hav been explained more, but no matter what i aint takin stick from pricks who just want to put me down. so F*CK U!!
    well soz to those who think its a load of bollocks but i did stress the meanin of the article u dipwads. OK, im not an expert at guitar but im still learnin. for f*cks sake its taken me 7 years to learn everythin i hav an i thought that this wud b enough 4 beginners. sorry if i put in things that shud hav been explained more, but no matter what i aint takin stick from pricks who just want to put me down. so F*CK U!!
    OK, I think this article has a few flaws. personally, I feel it's been rushed. Nice try, rufi, but it's like trying to cram an elephant into a mouse-hole. I think that to make a top-notch article on soloing, the things like scales need to be discussed BEFORE any concept of soloing. And before you ask, yes, I am considering writing an article on the subject myself. However, the article does redeem itself by displaying some very unorthodox methods of playing the major and major pentatonic scales (I wouldn't use them personally, but someone may find them handy) and, as for bennybeast1, in case you didn't realise, the blues scale pattern in there practically IS the minor pentatonic scale, with one more note added. That's the point. It's a way to liven up pentatonics in rock soloing. Anyway, that's my $0.02...
    im a beginner and i found it helpful!! and dun go on about me not understandin majors etc, i play piano. stupid bein "poopy" oooh, im so harsh.
    Being that i studied theory this is basically what my g tech taught ,e in the beginning like ur scale should always start 3 frets down from your chord if u play a g the root chord would be b if im correct something like that lol
    [code] e:--*--*----- -- b:-----*-----*- g:--*-----*--*- d : --*-----*--*- a:- -*--*-----*- E:---- -*-----*- [/code] there... but thats not the major pent i use... this is [code] e-|---|-r-| ---|-*-| a-|---|-*-|---| -*-| b-|-*-| ---|-*-|---| d-|-*-|---|---|-r-| a- |-*-|---|---|-*-| e-|-- - |-r-|---|-*-| [/code]
    Good job! Teaching beginning students I start with the minor pent (form 1.) Its important they know where their roots are. Afer they know the roots go on to the 3rds 5ths etc. You can turn a minor pent into a major by putting your pinky on the first note and playing the same pattern. After that you can go on to the minor and major scales. YES the major scale is important. Whoever posted that needs another hobby. Upon knowing the major scale it is easy to build the rest of the modes on it. If done correctly this is about 8 to 10 weeks of instruction. To do it well takes a lifetime.
    the scales are pretty helpful, but a solo always came out of you, like something the song makes you feel,
    I thought this is a great article! i've printed it off for Adam the guitarist in my band, another tip, don't bend strings too much on solo's. i just sounds awful!!!
    First you must know what all the notes mean ie a,b,c,d,e,f,g and a#,ab,b#,bb,c#,cb etc etc etc Then you must know all the chords. Aha you Simple. A chord = a, c, e etc etc B chord = etc etc etc and so forth except for diminsihed chords which are used in jazz. So how does this work? Well ok, I'll explain the chords. A is number 1 note, B is number 2 etc etc etc So how does that work? ok Chords must have 3 notes and a root and 3rd and 5th. simple! So next learn scales and fingerpicking and speed picking and hammer ons and pulloffs. Then get a drummer and play some chords and do some licks something like this. e---1 5 B-- ..6 7 8 D--- ..etc etc etc G--- A--- E--- e---..5~~~ Just do whatever chords sounds good over whatever kind of licks you play. Next you must learn Arpeggios and pentantonics. How? Well an Arpeggio is a sequence of notes making a harmoney. A pentatonic is very similar to an arpeggio except you speed pick it as fast as you can. (Like Zakk wylde's Apreggios) Also buy the Malmsteen videos, they take a while but are quite good to learn. Anyways, any questions? Please don't ask wait for my next article. Rock on dudes
    It's neccessary to keep it all in one position when you first start out. Once you know your way around the fretboard a bit better, you can move around and explore. After all, none of us picked it up in one play, I'm still experimenting when I play. Not a bad article, but not the greatest.
    For me, making a solo doesn't involve following a scale or anything. When I write something, I do it one of two ways, either I mess about with chord picking in different positions on the neck, or I recreate whatever sound I have in my head note for note.
    What ever happen to the solos like the one's Harrison played in the Beatles. For example the solo from "All My Loving" sounds great, fits the song, isn't crazy/ lightning fast, but still gets the job done. You don't have to be Van Halen or Slash to make a sweet solo you can make a solo out of picking a couple of quirky chords. So get over it the guy did a decent job of getting the basics laid down, I don't see any of you out there writing a better article...
    "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."
    Good stuff, way to explain the freestyle of soloing. You could make the scales easier to play though. I know some ways. But I am too damn lazy to write them out . Peace.
    just play if your by yourself but if you are playing with other people use every trick you have like useing modes the notes of the scale in other places.
    recently i bought a guitar scale book and it has really helped me with my solos...this wasn't the best article but he's on the right track. i give you props for trying to help.
    e:----x-----x- b:-x-----x---- g:----x--- --x---- d:----x-----x---- a:----x-----x---- E:----x-----x- I use this one...
    e:----x-----x- b:----x-----x- g:----x--- --x---- d:----x-----x---- a:----x-----x---- E:----x-----x- sorry it kinda messed up, it's actually this one...
    heres what i use for a normal major scale... less moving around the fret board. e:----*--*-- ----- b:-- -----*-----*----- --- g:---- *-----*- -*----- d:---- *-----*--*----- - a:----*--*-----*- ----- E:----- -*-----*-----|
    Bubonic Chronic
    Good basic intro for beginners. I like your comment about repeated notes. Still, a solo can be written in the absence of scales as well. (Here's where eeyoredragon or somebody tears me a new *******, lol.) You can play "outside" as well as in, and some very effective things can come out of that. A good solo is difficult to define. Some of the best are three damn notes! Still others utilize 20 different scales from Istanbul to Beijing, lightning chromatic runs and a series of altered arpeggios. "Good" is subjective, and many players who have developed a great deal of prowess - i.e. they can whip out some Steve Vai shred - can't improv to save their lives. Some of the old blues artists couldn't read a note! Still, I challenge anyone (even Steve Vai) to out-solo some of those originals. Hats off to the old blues cats!
    I belevie that you can make good solos the way this guy is saying but if you have played longer and are good you can do it more challenging and difficult.
    i think this is a good article for people who have no clue on how to begin with soloing, nice work!
    good job, I tried doing a lesson on something similar to this but they didn't accept it, it was how to link scales without sounding bad
    its a good lesson for an intro into lead playing. Although i would suggest learning the blues scale first. As most songs have a chord progression that suits the blues scale. oh, and try listening to Gary Moore's "blues for greeny" and playin over the top of that . good practice. nice Work btw,
    booo that didnt work...ill try again.. e:--*--*--- ---- b:-----*----- *- g:--*-----*--*- d:--*-----*--*- a :--*--*-----*- E:- ----*-----*- hopef ull that came out better.. if not.. oh well..
    Bubonic Chronic
    A Major scale is just a series of whole and half steps (a whole step is two frets, a half step is one fret.) It goes: Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half Arrange that pattern beginning at some point on the guitar and continue until it ends, then start over where you ended the last series of notes. It can take a variety of shapes (seven, actually) if you arrange in starting from various places in the scale, and it will take a different for when and if it crosses the b string, in which case everything simply moves up an extra fret when you cross over from the g to b string (and down a fret when going the other way.) Textbooks are full of different shapes, some of them have three notes per string, but this generally causes some finger strain and fatigue, but it makes picking easier and cleaner. Other books focus on the left hand, making it easier to fret, but usually one string will only have two notes on it, which makes picking the scale more difficult - so it's a matter of opinion: construct scales to facilitate picking or construct scales to reduce finger strain on the fretting hand.
    Kick The Cars
    Great, another person who doesn't know the first thing about soloing giving advice. Almost NO ONE uses the major scale in improvisation. And, like others pointed out, there are more positions of those scales. Also, the key to having VARIETY IN SOLOS is to not just stick to the scale patterns, but to use the notes in that song's key and only use strict scale patterns for build-ups and such.
    Can some one that no 'more' than this guy write an article for soloing. All I know is pentatonic and major and minor scales. I must be just as bad as this guy. Although when it come to pentatonic scales I can play them like a mother***er.
    dude if u r a pro then think about the peole just startin u b*****s. i DID say that it was the basics u dumasses
    If anyone wants to know scales and modes, try website. It helped me with a lot of my questions. The site's incomplete at this moment, but it has more than enough for beginners (section on solos is incomplete). Run through the lessons available at your own pace (I learned all 5 of the pentatonic minor scale modes in one night). I spent about one hour on each mode...good for me, bad for my fingers). It has the basic shape for all modes in both the pentatonic major and minor scales as well as the standard major and minor scales. They should encompass any of the other scales/modes that people will use. I hope this helps anyone who needs it. And by the way, Kick the Cars, you're an ass!! You say almost no one uses the major scale...well if hardly anyone uses it, then wouldn't it make more sense for someone who is looking to be more unique (notice I said more unique as opposed to unique) in their soloing/expression to use it instead of the more commonly used scales? Stop hatin' just because you couldn't think of a decent lesson to write. Good article, rufi.
    Kick The Cars
    For starting out, this doesn't really help very much, because you didn't put the minor scale or provide some charts with all the notes in a particular key. Solos aren't just going up and down scales..
    I dont even like solos really, they are just a guitarist showing off in the middle of a song basically. I would rather see people playing more complex lead lines that don't cut into the middle of the song.