Creating Emotional Solos

date: 06/24/2006 category: features
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Ever watched a lead guitarist blazing through a guitar solo, and wonder exactly how they do that? Beginner guitarists ask this sort of question all the time - they wonder how they figure out which notes sound right before they play them. In this article I'll show you how to create that same kind of solo that inspired you to play guitar.

Emotional Solos?

Well, emotional solos doesn't mean you're listening to a Nirvana solo, or an AC DC solo, etc..., it means you're really feeling it, from your guts down to your soul. Some examples:
  • Guns N' Roses - November Rain
  • Pink Floyd - Time
  • Aerosmith - Livin' On The Edge
  • Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
  • Metallica - Unforgiven
  • Ozzy Osbourne - Mama, I'm Coming Home
  • Velvet Revolver - You Got No Right/ Loving The Alien Anyway, hope you got the picture. There are lots of other songs which have that kind of solo which takes you to a place deep into your soul and you can't exactly explain if it's higher... In this Article you'll find differences, and how to make that special kind of solo. Just wait and see.

    Before Creating The Solo

    You know, before creating the solo... you need to have a purpose, you need to have a special feeling about somebody or something whether it's Fear, Anger, Love, Sadness, Happiness, etc... they're all important, but you need to pick one important subject which you really care about. So how's this suppose to be important in creating a solo, there are no lyrics, you say? Well... The solo in a song is basically a missing emotional verse which takes place the guitar instead of vocals. So, the solo must react with the same mood the structure, lyrics and mood are in the song. You can't start a happy-feeling-solo while you're playing a sad-desperate kind of song... be creative, but match the mood. In the beginning, before creating the solo, you need to listen to the song over and over again until you get a clear picture of the song, then it's time to hum the solo.

    Structuring The Solo

    Humming the solo before anything is most important. Nothing can match the most incredible feeling than yourself humming from your mouth, so get your tape recorder or any recording device and start humming that missing solo piece, try to figure out which is best to put, and mix parts with others, until you construct the best melody with your humming. Now, the melody must be nice, but not so long, the best to put it is this way, "Short, simple and sweet" so don't try to complicate the solo so that no one will be able to play it, or you want to play a long solo because Pink Floyd do so. Let me tell you one thing, Pink Floyd have been experimenting with solos for decades so don't try to be them, it's better to do 2 Short Sweet Solos than a Long Boring one. When creating the melody of your solo while humming try to be with the song, like there's a missing verse, but you're feeling it instead. Along the way, you should make a melody that makes sense, for example: If you're talking to a friend about horses and while you're talking you change the subject about Birds. I mean, you've got to keep the subject there, I know solos aren't spoken but you need to imagine you're talking in that moment, it's like there's another verse played with the Guitar instead of sung.

    Creating Your Solo

    Before getting any far you should always remember to stick to the basics, basics are the most important; putting what you have learned together will make it easier for you to make this solo. Blues Scales, pentatonics, modes, arpeggios, scales... are all important to the solo, use whatever you're comfortable with most. Using some passing notes along the way are good too, whatever you're comfortable with is good to use, and in the end it will result as "the best you can give" until you get better. The best way to make a solo with no doubts is to give everything you know, learned and the most you can give, this will show your capability too. Now, that you got everything in place, you should start to convert your hummed melody into your guitar playing, this involver ear training too, if you're not into ear training and have no experience with ear training you will find it harder to convert it. There are articles regarding this subject on this site.


    01. Hum your melody, hum a phrase and try to make them match, try phrase by phrase until you've succeeded to the whole melody, and either remember the solo by heart or try to write it down; I suggest that you learn it by heart, because if you're really feeling the solo you should know it by heart and feel it to play it, you could also write it down until you've learned it all and then learn it afterwards. 02. Recording every mistake, etc... will be useful in the future, because some things come just by mistake, so remember to record your mistakes, because you might find the best lick you've made by mistake, and forget it, so if you'll record it you can again try to do it. 03. When you converted the melody into your guitar playing, begin to notice some phrases, for example if there's a bit where there's a note which needs to be held a bit longer, go for it, try it, and ask people for their advice, ask whether it's best that way or the other way. 04. Bending, hammer-ons/ Pull-ofs, vibrato are some little tools which are useful and are almost always useable, try not to over do it, no one wants to hear the whole solo with vibratos only or hammer-ons, be creative and use some a bit where needed. 05. After closing the solo you should record it and hear everyday for a week or so, until you're really satisfied, accept it and feel the same feeling you felt at the time you played it, closing and ending the solo takes time, so don't rush on the things.

    Closing Your Solo

    Your solo should have an ending to your verse ex. If you're making a melody, it should have an ending, it's like you're talking about something and saying bye for the end of the solo, and you must respect the guitar and feel it as if you're talking to someone with it. Feel the feeling, and play the feeling. When the solo is ready and you're satisfied and proud, say you're closing it, and that's how it is, don't try to change it in the future, because you won't have the same feeling next year as you had last week or when you did your solo. Others will respect the feeling you felt because you'll make them feel that same way you felt, without you or them even noticing, it's like something inside, remember, you're talking to someone else's soul.


    Hope you liked this article, maybe next time I'll write something else regarding solos or something... Peace, cheers, Thanks, Lee.
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