Stop Playing The Same Guitar Solos Over And Over Again - Top Secrets Of Guitar Solo Creativity

If you are like most guitar players, you want to be able to play interesting and creative guitar solos.

Stop Playing The Same Guitar Solos Over And Over Again - Top Secrets Of Guitar Solo Creativity
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If you are like most guitar players, you want to be able to play interesting and creative guitar solos. However, you probably find that when you go to create a new guitar solo, you experience difficulty while trying to think of new ideas. Before you know it, you begin using a bunch of old material, and end up with a guitar solo that sounds just like every other solo you have ever heard. What is the reason for this?

The answer lies in the fact that guitar players often end up choosing the same process for creating their guitar solos and improvisations.

The majority of guitar players approach solos as follows (see if this sounds familiar to what you do): you listen to the chords or riffs that you are supposed to play over, and then improvise some melodies until something feels right. This process continues until the guitar solo is done.

Although this approach is a legitimate way to approach soloing on guitar, you need to realize that every time you use it, you are relying on the same guitar soloing process as most other guitarists. As a result, the guitar solos you create will have the same (or very similar) sound to other musicians you know.

To illustrate a point let's use a very well known guitar player: Yngwie Malmsteen. Yngwie is known worldwide as one of the best solo guitar players. Most of the time his guitar soloing has the same consistent sound due to the method he uses to make his solos. Now, Yngwiehas been playing guitar at a high level for many years and is obviously satisfied with the way he plays, so the fact that his solos are similar is not an issue (for him and for many of his fans like myself). With that said, if you are not satisfied with how your guitar solos sound, then you obviously do have an issue that must be resolved.

Now, let's talk about solutions for you to use to improve your lead guitar playing. There are countless ways to go about soloing. I want to share with you one of the most powerful approaches (which I use in my own guitar solos) that is quite different from the conventional way of soloing on guitar described above.

You will need to think about who your favorite singer is and select one of his/her vocal melodies (from a song that you like) for this exercise. Then, challenge yourself to compose your guitar solos based on the way the singer sings his/her melodies. There exist many ways to go about doing this, and I'm going to give you one of them here. I've also provided you with a video to watch that gives a guitar soloing demonstration of this approach at work. This method consists of 5 steps:

  • Step #1: Pick one of the vocal lines that your chosen singer sings in a song.

  • Step #2: Focus on playing that vocal line (on guitar) in the same way that the singer sings it. Go much deeper than simply 'playing the notes' of the melody and mimic the actual 'phrasing' of HOW the notes are played. Be very precise here, and pay attention to detail in your guitar playing.

  • Step #3: Figure out the strongest notes which make up the vocal line, and remember these notes. Take out a pencil and write these notes on a piece of paper. You can also use tab, or (if you are comfotable with it) staff paper.

  • Step #4: Cut out all of the 'non essential' pitches, leaving only the most important notes of the melody.

  • Step #5: Now that you have created a foundation for your new guitar solo, you can start to get creative. Keep the main pitches that you've selected, and fill the space in between them with new guitar licks centered around those pitches.

    Watch the video below to see and hear how this all works. Oh, by the way, I brought Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire's singer) all the way from Italy to Chicago to sing the vocal melody for this 2-hour guitar solo master class (here is a short excerpt of it).



    The more you practice the method described in this article, the better you will get at playing melodic guitar solos whenever you want. You will see great improvement as your guitar solos stop sounding like all the other solos you've already heard, and start to take on their own distinct sound.

    About The Author:

    Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and the guitar player for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He teaches guitar players from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. Visit his website tomhess.net to get free guitar playing resources and to read more guitar playing articles.

50 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Dwight.Schrute
    Good article and I like the idea, but I wish people would quit using the word "secrets" in their titles. I think by now most guitarists reading this realize that in almost everything they have learned about music it is never through "secrets," rather, they learn different people's approaches, etc. It just takes away from how exact the title fits your article.
    Dwight.Schrute
    ^ It just makes a legit article look like one of those CLICK THIS AND YOU WILL AVOID THE TOP 5 SECRET GUITAR MISTAKES adds that you see in the sidebar.
    RC52190
    How are there so many haters on this? Like, really, this is some legit advice. He's not telling you to COPY vocal melodies, he's just saying to take inspiration from them, and take the essential notes from them and make your own melody out of it. It's definitely a less "robotic" way to make a guitar solo while still having a guideline to it.
    RndyW0
    At least Tom Hess is one of those "online guitar teachers" that actually teaches well, gives good advice actually doesn't just relentlessly spam your e-mail account.
    RC52190
    And if you don't like the advice or it just doesn't work for you, then simply don't take it and move on. Don't sit here and bash the guy, because regardless, he's still helping more people than you are.
    burnummaster
    i imagined him with sun glasses and tribal tattoos and replaced his words with "fast pick and play any note randomly in every song. whammy ever 3 seconds too!"
    Reskir
    60s&70s wrote: Does anyone else think that the board looks like a sperm race?? Just saying...
    That's exactly what I thought...
    jimmy-moto
    The solo that he created in this video didn't sound very inspired to me, it was just a bunch of stock licks thrown together to go along with the vocal line...
    60s&70s
    Does anyone else think that the board looks like a sperm race?? Just saying...
    theogonia777
    Very cliched advice, but for a good reason: because it works. That's one thing about a lot of guitarists that gets boring: guitarists think too much like guitarists. Incorporating vocalist-inspired licks gives the guitar a whole different feel, and in fact the guitar is very well suited to this. Also I'd suggest studying the distinct type of phrasing found on other instruments, such as saxophone, banjo, and keyboard, and applying those sorts of ideas to guitar playing to give all kinds of very unique sounds to your solos.
    captainperoxide
    iommi600 wrote: Someone send this article to Slayer, for ****s sake...
    I dunno, he clearly states you need vocal melodies...
    steven seagull
    there are no "secrets" to playing the guitar, and anyone who would claim otherwise is only doing so to try and make money off you
    MegadethFan18
    Pretty cool. One of my favorite things about playing guitar is just playing the vocal melodies of songs I like. I also love solos that duet with the vocals, like the outro to Catcher In The Rye.
    Milsaps
    go to the youtube link over 10 thousand views 1 like and 0 dislikes wat
    PoorePlaysBass
    To illustrate a point let's use a very well known guitar player: Yngwie Malmsteen. Yngwie is known worldwide as one of the best solo guitar players.
    Yngwie...
    theogonia777
    RC52190 wrote: How are there so many haters on this? Like, really, this is some legit advice.
    It might have something to do with the fact that, while the advice is very good and can be excellent if properly applied, the video was a great example of poor application. Like this guy said:
    jimmy-moto wrote: The solo that he created in this video didn't sound very inspired to me, it was just a bunch of stock licks thrown together to go along with the vocal line...
    The solo he made in the video was kind of bad, and the shredding was just terribly messy, so it's probably a bit hard for some people to listen to good advice when put in not-so-good context. I feel like in this case the article would have been better without the video.
    chadbecks
    I couldn't agree more on making the melody line more of your focus. Focusing on the melody takes the "work" out of finding target notes because the melody becomes your target notes. I also think it's a great idea to learn solos from other instruments like the sax and trumpet. They tend to be more melodic based because they really have no patterns to burn their fingers through.
    robo37
    JayMichaelRayne wrote: well that's useless for people who never had musical ear
    Then why the **** would these "people" be on a guitar website?
    ASeparatePeace
    Hey, I seen tom hess on internet advertisements a couple of times! I remember going on his website, and gave him my e-mail. He sent me 10 tips for starting a band amazing ones at that! now he shows us a good way too create solos. I used the method he assumed we used. At first it does the trick, but later on you realise your solos will sound the same (as he said) and this tip will help you out a bit to get more of a "creative" solo. I don't put a lot of solos in my songs but when I do I want it to be more "melodic" instead of just a bunch of licks & shreds. Thanks a ton for this post, and kudos to tom hess for giving out good advice like usual!
    pinguinpanic
    And how exactly do you make something new by copying something? You're just expanding your recycle machine.
    Thrasher'91
    MightAndMusic wrote: Kirk hammet: Fuck, i forgot the solo! *WAH WAH WAH WAH*
    HAHAHA!!! So freakin true
    crosskip
    To illustrate a point let's use a very well known guitar player: Yngwie Malmsteen. Yngwie is known worldwide as one of the best solo guitar players.
    Lolwat
    Carl Hungus
    This guy is fairly talented its just that I think his style of soloing is really cheesy. Reminds me of an opera singer, flamboyant and over the top.
    Neras47
    This was so technically simple and conceptually overused that I got brain cancer. Thank you, Tom Hess, you helped create another inventively blind amateur guitarist legion to play in bands so generic that make today's music sound dull... and there's no secret in the video (as expected when I clicked play).
    elvor0
    robo37 wrote: JayMichaelRayne wrote: well that's useless for people who never had musical ear Then why the **** would these "people" be on a guitar website?
    I would say he's more referring to people who just don't have the ability to mimic notes, (like myself) I've tried to do it, but I just can't. I can tell when stuff is out of tune or wrong, but by god I cannot just mimic what I hear.
    Kioshi
    JayMichaelRayne wrote: well that's useless for people who never had musical ear
    there are plenty of tabs that include the vocal parts.
    ionoobmaster
    Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't this the way Cobain made up his solos (mainly thinking about Heart shaped box and Smells like teen spirit) ?
    TheNameOfNoone
    steven seagull there are no "secrets" to playing the guitar, and anyone who would claim otherwise is only doing so to try and make money off you
    I couldn't help myself but totally agree with you, sir.
    RamblinMan2450
    What was that he did to fill the gaps? The Chromatic C scale, and the second was what? -Pedal point lick? I've always wanted to play those, but I don't know how... Does anyone know a song where they play those so I could get the tab?
    mrgtrman
    You could also just simulate any other instrument or sound, whatever it might be. You can really learn something about music this way
    zalant
    jhymadesh wrote: Am I the only one who thinks that the thingies at 3.05 are sperms?
    Totally! } : - ) >
    Don't Ask
    I'd say that the most badass way to solo is to improvise. All the time, every time. Of course, this usually makes me play the same things over and over again, not only in one song, but in all songs... But in principle it's far superior to everything else. I'd say that I prefer making some guidelines to how I want a solo to sound, by improvising over and over again and seeing what works, and then improvising on that. Far more awesome than writing full solos any day.