How to Structure a Guitar Solo

A good lead guitar player must, and I’ll repeat that – MUST – pay attention to the rhythm.
That means knowing the rhythm part intimately yourself, even if you’re not the one playing it. Know the guitar chords and the various changes, because ideally, you should be working off of those changes in your solo.

As you’ll see in the video, a safe place to end each phrase is to end up on the root note for the chord that is being played… So it becomes important to know your notes, or a least a quick way of finding them. If you need a brush up on your notes, checkout one of my lessons on guitar scales.

If you’re really struggling with how to structure a guitar solo, this video should give you a few tips that will help point you on the right path. Another great way of improving your guitar solos is to find some backing tracks that you can practice with. These will really help you improve your solo rhythm, letting you really practice “feeling” the rhythm of the band.

Anyways, let’s get down to business – go on and hit play!

Watch the lesson on Youtube

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  1. That was helpful, and spurred some thought. Another question, do you have a series of commom or popular riffs heard in rock songs ? or can you point me to an available DVD where they break down riffs and show how they’re done ? Thanks.

    1. Hi Tom, I’ve done a number of lessons on riffs & licks, which you can find on this site (click on Licks & Riffs in the Guitar Tips Categories section on the right sidebar). Beyond that I don’t have anything further at this point, and unfortunately I’m not aware of any that I can recommend currently…

    1. Hi Chris, the videos are hosted on Youtube – you could try watching them directly on there (double click on the video while its playing and it should take you through) but my guess is the delay is somehow due to your internet connection. I’d recommend starting the video, then pausing it after a second or so, then let it buffer completely before watching it through. It’s a bit of a pain, but really the only way we can get around the slower connections.

  2. Hi ,Jonathan

    Your such a good teacher,
    please please please get a new
    video camera!!!
    I hope I’m not the first person
    to say so,
    but the stop-start stop-start
    1. takes to long
    2. takes to much focus off the lesson
    3. is annoying

    If none of it’s your fault, I totally apologise!

    1. Hi Ellee,

      The stopping and starting would be due to your internet connection not receiving the video fast enough, for whatever reason. I recommend starting the video, then pausing it right away, and allow the video to buffer completely (the faint red/grey line along the bottom). Once it is fully buffered you should be able to watch through with no problem.

  3. Johnathon,

    I love what you teach, but sometimes you “fly” through explanations, which can be difficult for slow learners like me. In this last lesson you mentioned we should first find the scale in which we want to solo. My question is if the band is playing in C…should I be soloing in Am? Or if the band is playing in E. . . should I be soloing in C#?


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