Tips For Guitarists: Soloing Secrets

These are some tips that I have for guitarist who want to add a little bit more flavour to their playing but don't know how. Let's say you know all the modes and scales, then what? And say you know what the pentatonic minor blues scale is, how do you make it sound bluesy?

Ultimate Guitar
This lesson is probably a shot away from the others I've posted thus far as I have put quite a few advanced techniques forwards in this one, so if you're a beginner, I'd suggest looking at my lesson for beginners or somebody else's lessons for beginners before attempting this lesson. Tip No. 1: Microtonal bends These aren't as complicated as they sound. It simply means that you bend certain notes in a mode/scale slightly out of tune with you finger(s) so that it sounds good. The easiest way to understand this is to hear it, so have a go at the tab underneath this text. Tab key:- --4-- = pluck the string shown while fretting the string on the fret numbered --h6- = hammer-on your finger onto the string on the fret numbered, doesn't require the string to be plucked --p2- = pull-off you finger from the string shown to sound a note while fretting the string on the fret numbered -8b9- = luck the string shown while fretting the string on the fret numbered, then bend the string until the note sounded becomes the same as the note sounded on the fret shown to the right of the b. E.g., 8b9 means pluck the string while fretting the string on the 8th fret, then bend the string one semitone/one fret higher in pitch. -8b9r8- = same a regular bend but allow string to return to regular position on fret numbered; think of b as meaning bend, and r as meaning relax --t12- = tap on the fret numbered firmly with one of the fingers in your plucking hand -t9r5- = tap on the fret numbered firmly with one of the fingers in your plucking hand then release your finger from the string either by simply pulling it off or twanging it, but fret the string on the fret numbered to sound that note after the finger tapping the string has been removed -mb7- = bend the string slightly after plucking the string number shown, but don't bend it so that raises the note in pitch by a fret. / = Slide finger(s)up the fretboard to the fret shown \ = Slide finger(s)down the fretboard to the fret shown --9v- = use vibrato by wavering the string up and down by bending it to get a sort of wavy sound
This is a typical blues run in minor pentatonic in E. I put in the microtonal bends in the parts that I felt sounded the best, but there are other places for them. Some better than others. You'll notice the the microtonal bends are on the 3rd and 7th notes in the scale if you were using natural minor. They also appear on the 5th note from time to time, but you can bend that note even further. This is how to use that 5th to get a blues flavour in a solo.
You'll probably find that this is much more noticeable than microtonal bends. Whether this is desirable or not is up to you, and you can use either or both. The point is that you can slip both into you solos if you're using the right mode/scale, for example dorian and aolien/natural minor would both be capable of having these tricks added to them. Happier scales will need the notes moving about to the corresponding notes in those scales. E.g., a major scale has a major third so the major third will be slightly bent as opposed to the minor third slightly bend in the minor scale. A major third is one fret higher than a minor third. Tip No. 2: southern bending This is simply what I call this technique and it isn't a technical name for it, but it comes up in southern rock like ZZ-top quite a bit.
This should give you a sort of echoey sound, as the strings being bent to the degree that they are both sounding the same note. This can be done in any mode or scale, but because of the way the strings are tuned, it's much harder to do on any of the other strings in pairs as the notes are further apart on the fretboard. This is good way to break up a solo when you've been using single notes for a while but don't want use a full chord just yet. Typically featured in blues music, it is also a pretty widespread trick amongst rock guitarists. Tip 3: Two handed tapping Made famous by Eddie van Halen and widely mist-understood and overused by guitarists ever since, is has been in use far longer, with Jeff Beck being amongst the earliest tappers. Tapping essentially gets your guitar to leap to notes much higher than one hand alone would be able to accomplish, as well as making solos sound much more outside the box, even though it has now become a clique. The theory behind tapping is that you follow a scale or mode, and literally tap the note you want to hear from the guitar next. This often allows previously inaccessible notes to be exploited, but remember that you have to follow a mode when using it just like regular playing, tapping isn't an excuse for bad theory.
Tip 4: The control dials on your guitar By plucking a note when your volume dial is at zero, then turning it slowly up, you are able to emulate a violin. This is generally what a volume pedal is used for by professionals, but for all of us with less then 17 digits on our pay checks this trick does the job just as well but requires the use of your hand rather than your foot. Turning the volume up to maximum makes harmonics and all the other notes or your guitar must distinct, and allows all the gain in your amp to be put to use, so rock and metal players will prefer to do this. Turning you volume down gets a more throaty and less sharp sound, sort of Hendrix/Bolin sound or sweet child o mine sort of thing, but generally switching to the rhythm pickup can do this as well. Remember, less volume on the guitar means less gain. Tone is also similar. Turning it up to full is preferable is you want to hear you notes clearly, as turning it down will add a little bit of mud into the sound generally. It depends on what you want from your instrument. Tip No. 5: ask people what you want to know. I've covered what I think most guitarists will want to know, but if there are any tricks you want me to teach you then let me know. I can't make the perfect lesson for everyone, but you can help me make the best lesson I can for you. Shred wisely follow axe-men!

12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Probably. But it's just one more thing to bring to a gig that might not work for me. They're very useful, but for the most obvious effects they create, the volume dials on my guitar do a decent enough job.
    Axe Samurai
    Excellent lesson. Clearly explained and nice examples so couldn't ask for anything more. In Tip 2: Southern Bends/Unison Bends your tab is slightly off in that the 2nd example should be bending from 9th fret on the g-string to the 11th rather than 12th as the 7th fret on the b-string below is a f-sharp and you're trying to make them sound in unison.
    Thanks man. If anyone reading this comment finds that this part of the lesson is a little bit wonky, then follow Axe Samurai's advice and bend to the 11th fret rather than the 12th fret. Sorry about the slip up. I'll try not to make the same mistake again guys.
    yeah I know, but most of the time people who have volume pedals have a fleet of other pedals as well, and it becomes a bit of a faff to find out where everything goes. I'm just writing this for everyone who's as skint as I am If you have the choice then go for your volume pedal, but be sure to wire it up properly. Sometimes bad cables may cause some loss in sound quality, so I use as few external effects as possible, but that's just me.