The answer comes in two forms:
1. Almost all guitar players are under the impression that the best process for coming up with guitar solos consists of piecing together separate licks one after the other (which is a mistake).
2. A very high percentage of the guitar playing community has NOT invested much time into developing their guitar phrasing abilities. This severely limits their ability to improvise inspiring guitar solo licks because they only understand 'what' needs to be played but not 'how' to play it!
If you are looking to make massive positive change in your ability to improvise rock guitar solos, it will require consistent and focused effort to build your understanding of the points above (I teach my guitar students in detail about these things with my correspondence rock guitar lessons). With this in mind, you can work on improving your rock guitar improvisation skills right now using the guitar licks you already know very well. In fact, by doing this you can quickly create great guitar solo improvisation ideas in the moment without learning any new guitar melodies. To illustrate how you can do this for yourself, I am going to show you a highly effective guitar soloing approach.
Here is the approach that you should use:
1. Choose a series of chords to solo over and record yourself playing them many times for two to three minutes (or simply find a backing track online if you like). Make sure that you are comfortable soloing over these chords.
2. Choose a short guitar lick that you have memorized or are already familiar with.
3. Start the track with the chords you made (or found online) and play the guitar lick you chose over it.
4. After you have played your guitar lick once over the chords of the track, resist the temptation to start improvising any totally new licks. Instead, repeat the lick over one more time 'except' now you must add at least one of any of these alterations to it:
- Play the notes with altered note rhythm values (keep the actual pitches the same though, only change the rhythm)
- Change some or all of the pitches in your guitar lick while keeping the rhythm of the notes the same.
- Keep all of the notes in the guitar lick the same except for the last few notes (this can sound really nice when there is a chord change at the end as well).
- Use different guitar techniques to add slight variations to some of the notes in the lick. For example, emphasize some notes with vibrato, use bends or artificial harmonics).
Try to come up with a total of ten alternate ways to play the guitar lick you chose without entirely changing the lick itself. I know that in a "real" guitar solo you will not be playing the exact same lick over and over. However, by going through this process, you can greatly enhance your ability to improvise creative guitar solo ideas.
5. Now, choose a totally new guitar lick. This time use a guitar lick that feels significantly different than the one you had previously used. Repeat the steps described starting back at step 3.
6. Use the rest of your guitar practice session to concentrate on the above-mentioned steps.
The majority of guitar players approach rock guitar soloing and improvisation in a totally different manner than what is described above. However, by coming up with different ways to alter and vary a single guitar soloing idea, you can quickly make improvements to your rock guitar improvisation skills that you simply wouldn't make if you were taking the generally used method of trying to cram together a bunch of random ideas. On top of that, the approach in this article will help your guitar soloing sound better because you will have many opportunities to enhance a guitar lick that you already like to play using a variety of guitar techniques. By doing this you will quickly improve your guitar phrasing skills while having a more enjoyable time practicing and playing something that sounds good in the moment.
You may think that this guitar soloing approach sounds like a really basic approach. If so, you're right... this approach is both basic and incredibly productive at building your rock guitar playing skills. In fact, this is the same approach I have used many hundreds of times to help guitar players learn to play great lead guitar improvisations.
Learn how you can play great rock guitar solos using the exact approach in this article by checking out this free guitar improvisation video:
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a touring musician, composer and the guitar player for the metal band Rhapsody Of Fire. He teaches electric guitar online lessons to guitarists around the world. On his website tomhess.net, you can find guitar playing tips, free guitar resources and more guitar articles.