How to Play Better Guitar Solos That Grab the Interest of Your Listeners

Learn a simple guitar soloing trick that will leave your audience speechless and force them to listen to you!

Ultimate Guitar
It's a myth that you must play lightning fast on guitar in order to create guitar solos that grab the interest of others. Fact is, you can play totally killer guitar solos without being able to play shred guitar techniques of any kind. In order to do this, you will need to create guitar phrases that surprise your listeners by presenting them with unexpected musical ideas. Don't worry this is not as difficult as it may seem and there are tons of creative approaches that you can use to do this in your guitar solos. For the rest of this article, I will show you an effective step by step approach to creating attention-grabbing guitar solos. Before I continue, it is CRUCIAL that you watch the lead guitar soloing video below to hear the detailed explanation behind this guitar soloing idea. When I say it is crucial, I mean it - If you do not do this first, you will not get the maximum benefit from the information in the rest of this article. Once you have watched this video, continue reading and I will guide you through the step by step process that will help you create totally killer guitar solos.
YouTube preview picture
Okay, assuming you have already watched the video above, you are ready to continue reading this article. Follow these steps to write guitar solos with phrasing that "demands" the attention of your listeners:

Step Number One:

Begin by writing a guitar phrase in common time (4/4) that uses one of the following choices: a group of eighth notes or a group of sixteenth notes. The phrase should be a repeating pattern that can be easily played over and over (starting over every 8 or 16 notes), so it's important to use the same note values here. After making your selection, play the phrase you created over a backing track. Here is a 4/4 percussion backing track that I have provided for your convenience. Play your melody over this track now. Keep in mind that you are not creating an entire guitar phrase here. The musical idea you have created only lasts for two beats total. In addition, I recommend that you use the same guitar phrasing style from the video in the link above to make your idea really stick out. Alternatively, you can repeat each note in your guitar phrase twice as in the example below:
(this is just an example, you are welcome to think of your own ideas as well)

Step Number Two:

Play the short guitar phrase you created over the 4/4 percussion backing track and repeat it many times. This step is important because: A. Repeating the guitar phrase several times creates a reoccurring pattern. This has the effect of establishing a strong expectation in the mind of your listeners that the pattern will "keep going". B. It helps make the next step even more surprising and powerful.

Step Number Three:

Now you are going to surprise the listener with a totally unexpected twist to your guitar phrase. You are going to create a "three against four" feel as I explained and played for you in the video I linked you to at the beginning of this article. A very basic method for doing this is changing your phrase by removing some notes so it can fit into a time signature with three beats to a measure. At the same time you will continue repeating it over the 4/4 backing track. Compare the tablature below to the one above to see an example of how this can be done:
Pay close attention to the fact that the rhythm of the notes remains unchanged (as you noticed in the video). By following this example, the music will play in 4/4 while your shorter guitar phrase will play against it beginning again on a different pulse than the music itself. This creates a sense of strong musical tension that will be unavoidable to anyone who listens to your guitar solo. This will absolutely DEMAND their attention!

Step Number Four:

After enough repetitions, your shorter guitar phrase will match up with the downbeat of the 4/4 backing track (since you didn't change the note rhythms). Next you can choose to do any of the following: A. Maintain the three against four feeling by playing the shorter guitar phrase again. B. Start over by playing your original guitar phrase from step one. C. Start over by creating a new guitar solo phrase. Notice: Although playing guitar in this manner will certainly create unexpected results for your listeners (in a good way), if you play the same idea over many times it will create new expectations for them. In other words, you must "balance" the process of introducing new ideas and "developing" them in order to keep your playing interesting for your audience. The longer you repeat an idea, the less "novel" it feels to the listener (even if it is a really cool idea). Also, you are not limited to using the idea of three against four only in lead guitar phrasing situations. You can also go through the steps above to use this idea for creating new rhythm guitar riffs. There are countless ways to creatively integrate this idea into your music and many more basic examples than I can get into in a single article. Now that you have learned the unique guitar phrasing approach discussed in this article, apply it into your guitar solos to unlock endless musical possibilities for your guitar playing! Get effective guitar solo tips to help you improve your guitar phrasing skills. About The Author: Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and the guitar player for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He gives instruction to guitar players from all over the world in his effective online guitar lessons. Visit his web site to get free guitar player resources and to read more guitar improvement articles.

52 comments sorted by best / new / date

    That tone is horrendous in the video.
    Dat tone will get their attention 0_o For me I think the best way to make a solo is to have breathing space between a few quick scale runs if you want them; and to create mini melodies in the solo.
    I agree that "solo" actually started to annoy the crap out of me. Get slash to teach a lesson on solo work, blow this crap out of the water haha.
    All I got out of this is play trills, bend, and do tapping after I turn the amp up all the way so everyone at Guitar Center has to hear me.
    Wait...your special guitar playing trick is "use a basic polyrhythm"?
    That's not a polyrhythm, which requires 2 simultaneous rhythms. He's just accented the last 16th notes of the first weak beat which will give the rhythm a pulse of 3 eight notes until it aligns with 1.
    You don't have to play lightning fast to play this solo.....(Then he shreds out).
    Maybe it's just me, but if someone was playing with that tone on their guitar i would be forced to not listen lol. His guitar sounds like the brakes on my bicycle.
    If you're a good rhythmic player, you will not play it as 3/4 over 4/4 but just a lick which accents permutate (yes, Meshuggah fanboy) and it will sound naturally/will flow over the chords so will not !DEMAND! their attention. Especially if it's just a regular 4/4-beat and you play steady 8th/16th notes. Yeah, it's a cool trick but it's definitely not life-changing...
    Did we really need an 8 minutes video on the concept of a rhythmic pattern? It's pretty basic stuff. Hardly an "Advanced... Lessons for Lead Guitar." I teach this stuff for rhythm guitar.
    It's a nice idea and very useful, but I felt that this entire article could've been compressed in to a single bullet-point, it's so easy to explain and understand that all the description wasn't necessary. As for that video, my god, did he really need to explain the same thing 10 times? That video could've been about 30 seconds long.
    Don't get me wrong, from what I've seen/heard Tom Hess *really* knows his shit and how to teach. But rhythmic patterns are a rather basic concept. They have no business being advertised as an, "Advanced...Lessons for Lead Guitar." Ridiculous.
    If you wanna see a good guitar teacher watch a Satriani lesson. This guy can't teach to save his life and his tone is crap...he has another video where he just keeps saying "I know that I can do this and it sounds good..." I know...over and over again...
    satch is way better. idk though, for me I can only take so much phygian legato runs till I wanna kill myself. ((((COUGHSTEEEVVAAAIIIICOUGH))))
    Why does UG allow this idiot to post here? I mean, this is clearly another scam to get YouTube hits up and make fools out of genuine students. Look at the dweeb, he has the gall to call this an 'Advanced Guitar Lesson', its something every guitar player hears/learns when covering almost ANY genre of music!
    >2013 >taking anything that comes out of Tom Hess' mouth seriously his "articles" and adverts sound like 419 scams.
    man his tone is dildos. The title should be renamed to its genre specific. I personally find that solo technique rather dull.
    not great lesson..... more important are dynamics..... best example "Sweet child o mine", slow long notes followed by lightning fast scale picking with eruption and slow pace if you take average listener, he doesnt give a shit about what scale you play or what timing is in use..... he listens to mood changes in solo
    In before Tom Hess bashfest.
    It's just that the article is written like an infomercial... "Learn a simple guitar soloing trick that will leave your audience speechless and force them to listen to you!" I'm half expecting him to say "...but wait! There's more!" one of these times.
    agreed; it wasn't a bad lesson but way oversold. I hardly feel like this will "DEMAND their attention"
    you summed up exactly how i ALWAYS feel about tom hess's lessons! you read the title & description and youre like "wow- ok cool" and although there are some useful bits here & there the lessons are never as good or useful as he seems to think they are.tom is a good guitarist and does have a lot of good ideas regarding guitar education but he always seems think that the ideas he is presenting are far more profound than they really are & in some cases they are even downright obvious. whatever- its a free lesson so if you gain anything from it its a plus but again just very "oversold" as you so perfectly put it.
    Carl LOG
    I think it's a good one.. A good example and Good for beginners. More advanced players are able to take it to completely different levels. His point is the creativity and that you can easily use the skills you have to their full potential rather than thinking "This isn't going to be anywhere as good as John Petrucci but whatever. Get what I mean?
    He should've changed the title to "How to make catchy guitar solos that will appeal to the kids and teenagers undergoing puberty".
    @jimmy-moto: Exactly. @cjschaef: The problem is, it's one of those lessons that's basically written as "By doing will become awesome", when the reality is that the material presented in the lesson is one of many possible aspects of a good guitar solo/instrumental.
    Why the hell do you think his business is called Tom Hess "CORPORATION "?
    He can call his business whatever he wants, that's unrelated to his teaching style. The fact is that the writing is sensational and the content is oversold. I do like the three against four idea and think its a good technique to employ in guitar solos but I do not like the way it is delivered. Perhaps Im not the target audience and it wasnt meant to appeal to me. To my original comment, it feels like an infomercial in that it is using gimmicks to sell me something. Having a corporation doesnt mean you NEED use the marketing tools of afternoon television ads.
    This is the same guy who once made a guitar lesson on how to play solos that make girls want to sleep with you, I'm not gonna trust him. Besides, I've seen him live playing for Rhapsody, he can't play for shit, if he was half the player he claims to be, people outside of the guitar community would have actually heard of him.
    People, c'mon, what do you expect? This free lesson is an ad. The only way you will get to see the real stuff is when you sign up for his lessons, and pay him. Only then he will REALLY teach. By the way, despite his tone sounding kinda dirty, it's obvious that he really CAN play, and can teach a lot about guitar.
    I've been to a couple of guitar clinics this guy's run. He's a goober. "You don't need to shred to catch your listener's attention, so here's a neoclassical shred lick." My old guitar teacher thinks of Tom as the second coming of Jesus, and all I ever heard about was how inspirational he is. In reality, he's just a salesman who promises great things and delivers horribly typical guitar lessons.
    Because I felt this lesson may be slightly confusing to guitarists trying to understand the message Tom is conveying, I decided to try and summarize the article. Here it is: "Use pedal tones sometimes."
    Okay. Not what I really expected, but still I got some good out of it. Thanks a lot I check out more of your stuff.
    The Dimery
    Seeing middle aged men playing guitars that look like they should be played by 12 year olds always makes me laugh.
    Better Guitar Solos That Grab the Interest of My Listeners? All you taught me to do is create sixteenth or eighth note runs This is bullshit
    This article has been on the front page for nearly a week. I'm fairly certain he pays UG for the spot. This along with the waiting 15 seconds to download a guitar pro tab is pretty pathetic. UG is going into a pretty serious downward spiral.