Enhance Your Soloing

In this lesson I'll try to help you spiceing up your soloing.

Ultimate Guitar
Preface Surely you've read title as well as the introduction and you know what this lesson is about. But before we start I want you to know that I won't give you the solution or explanation, for suggestion could change you experience and far more important, one assimilates things better, when finding the solution or explanation oneself. You are welcome to rate, comment and ask questions.

1. Dynamics

1.1. Theory Dynamics are a really underrated tool for musical expression. Playing dynamically means, playing the notes at different volumes and creating a feel of "distance" of the notes. Most guitarists would try playing dynamically by hitting the strings harder or softer, but in my opinion there are two better ways to do so: a) When playing with a pick, first try to hit the string with the very tip o f your pick and then playing every note with a little bit more of the pick, maintaining the same hitting intensity. b) When finger picking, you should "push" the strings with your picking hand downwards to the sound hole, then angle your finger and let go. Depending on how far you pushed them down your volume will increase. 1.2. Exercise
I want You to play this simple melody at a very low tempo and try to play each note at a different volume while observing, how the individual volumes change the feel of the whole construct. Then try to find "patterns" Here are two ideas for patterns: the "sunrise-method"-> start very quietly (morning), incrase volume until you reach the "b"(noon) and than turn quieter again again (evening) the "tennis-method"->first note loud (ball been hit), second one quieter (when the ball hits the ground) and so on.

2. Rest

2.1. Theory Everyone whose soli tend to sound very scaleish and overplayed should pay close attention to the following stuff. In music there are two kinds of rests: a) not playing anything at all This concept is very interesting, for in creates space. This, gives the audience time to assimilate what has been played or cause the listeners attention. b) resting on a note This again is a very interesting thought, because resting on a note allows ornamentation (vibrato, bending, thrills, glissando, harmonics) and gives this note a special meaning. 2.2. Exercise
Play this once again but now leave out one note and rest on another for some time, while again observing how it changes the feel of the whole construct. Then start to ornament the note you are resting on by playing it e.g.: as a harmonic, with a thrill, with vibrato..

3. Tone

3.1. Theory Sound is produced by your gear (wood, amp, pickups). Tone is similar, but it can be manipulated by ones play. This can happen by changing the position of play (distance to the neck) and angle of string hitting. 3.2. Exercise
Play this once again. Start picking next to the bridge, your hand, the tip or your pick showing to the neck. Change the angle of the pick When the tip of your pick shows to the bridge, it's time to move on forwards to the neck and repeat this exercise. Oh, and observe how this changes the sound and feel of every note and the whole.

4. Rhythm

4.1. Theory Rhythm may be music's most hypnotic element. Rhythm can be made out of rhythmical figures. There are obvious ones like one quarter note, which can be replaced by two eight notes or four sixteenth notes There are other figures that include: a) one-beat figures a dotted eight and a sixteenth note a sixteenth note and a dotted eight a one-beat syncope (sixteenth, eight, sixteenth) eight and two sixteenth notes two sixteenth notes and one eight a one-beat triplet (three notes on one beat) b) two-beat figures two one-beat figures each a dotted quarter note and a eight note a eight note and a dotted quarter note a two-beat syncope ( eight, quarter, eight/sixteenth, eight, eight, eight sixteenth.) a quarter and two eights two eights and a quarter a two-beat triplet (three notes on two beats) c) three-beat figures rhree one-beat figures one two-beat figure and one two-beat figure a dotted half a three beat syncope (dotted eight, dotted quarter, dotted eight/eight, quarter, quarter eight) d) Four-beat figures two two-beat figures four one-beat figures a two-beat figure and two one-beat figures .. a dotted half note and a quarter note a quarter note and a dotted half note a four-beat syncope (quarter, half, quarter/ eight, quarter, quarter, quarter, eight.) a half and two quarters two quarters and a half a four-beat triplet (three notes on four beats) 4.2. Exercise
Now I want you to take you metronome and play the figure above once again, always altering the rhythmical figures. (try as many as you can) Now it's time for the next level: play this figure and combine what you have learned and use your own melodies to do the same.

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I like this soloing theory, i havnt read any thing like it and it has givin me some really good ideas for future solos. badass man.
    i b hippie
    this isnt soloing, this is basic musical theory. i would know cuz im a band nerd
    i agree with i b hippie. im a band geek too. but hey, at least you helped all the other people who think soloing is just fast playing loudness. keep up the good work.
    it is basic music theory, isnt that what contributes to all music including soloing? i think we should definitely try to go back to the basics of music theory
    Sultan Of Rock
    I love your comments on not playing anything at all. It drives me nuts, when solos are continuous. If you listen to all the great soloists, they aren't playing continuously. You have to create phrases. In ALL cases, less is more.
    a man much wiser than myself once said the hardest note to play in music is a rest
    this may seem like a dumb question, when i solo over chords do i have to play the individual notes in a chord? like say i play over g for 4 beats do those notes gotta be g b d? or can i play anything in the scale? again sorry for the dumb question.
    The_lizard_king wrote: this may seem like a dumb question, when i solo over chords do i have to play the individual notes in a chord? like say i play over g for 4 beats do those notes gotta be g b d? or can i play anything in the scale? again sorry for the dumb question.
    don't be, it's a very good question. it's something nobody ever really explains. you can basically play any notes you want as long as they are in the right key. if you're doing it by ear, you will automatically gravitate towards the chord tomes because they'll tend to sound better, but you don't want to just play g, b, and d because that's boring. you should try taking the G major scale(assuming you're in G major and not G minor) and just practice running through the notes in there. when i say running through the notes, i don't mean playing the scale straight up and down. skip a note or two, rearrange the order the notes are in and make sure you try playing both slow soloing, and fast shredding. in this day and age, you have to be versatile. just practice your scales to a metronome, pick up a music theory book, and learn your chord theory and scale theory. i reccomend the guitar grimoire scales and modes as well as the chords and voicings book. they'll really show you how it all comes together and connects. major breakthrough in my studies. hope this helped! and sorry about the length haha oh, and to Sultan Of Rock: you don't NEED to know theory to solo, there are tons of great guitar players out there who have made awesome solos but didn't know a bit of music theory. music theory IS helpful however. before i knew theory i wrote an awesome pentatonic solo and didn't even know what i was playing but it sounded good. now that i know theory, i could write a solo twice as good in half the time. once again, sorry for the length. Great lesson, teaches a lot of what I think people really need to know. feel free to check out my lessons guys, i teach a lot of chord theory that will help to enhance your soloing even more(yes, chord theory is important to soloing too!). make sure you practice all of the exercises that were given here too though, dynamics and rhythms are very important in making yourself stand out