Tag Archives for " Guitar Solos "

The Trap Of The Complex Guitar Solo

guitar-soloOne night at our weekly jam session, a new guy showed up and played some guitar with us. It’s always interesting watching players you’re not familiar with, because everyone has different ways of approaching things, and different ways of feeling the song.

So there I was, watching this guy take his solos, and the first thing that struck me was that his solos always sounded great. As I watched longer, I began to realize he didn’t even do a whole lot of really complex stuff that you might expect in a great guitar solo. No, instead he favored simpler guitar licks that followed the melody of the song, and just well, sounded great.

It was a good reminder that sometimes we can get too caught up in the latest greatest lick or guitar trick, and end up forgetting the melody.

I find that one way to practice staying “clued in” to the melody is to use jam tracks – as opposed to simply playing by yourself without any backing.

When you’re playing guitar by yourself, you lack the context in which to play a solo… and although you can get a lot of benefit out of this type of practicing (scales, finger dexterity, new licks, etc) you’re always going to lack that connection to the music that comes from practicing with jam tracks.

So make sure you practice with some context – preferably with a jam track that inspires you to new musical heights.

You can find a great collection of jam tracks here: 30 Blues Jam Tracks.

Joe Satriani’s Advice On Guitar Soloing

Joe SatrianiA long time ago I heard someone interviewing Joe Satriani. Not everyone knows this, but Satriani is actually a very good guitar TEACHER as well as player.

In fact, among his students, you’ll find:

  • Steve Vai
  • Kirk Hammett (Metallica)
  • David Bryson (Counting Crows)
  • Kevin Cadogan (Third Eye Blind)
  • Larry Lalonde (Primus)
  • and a bunch of other high profile players

So when Satch says something about how to learn the guitar, it’s worth taking note!

And what I heard him say, was this:

“The scale is the solo”

Sound too basic and simplistic?

The thing he was trying to get at was that so many guitar players don’t use the scale when they’re soloing… And yet that is the very place they need to be when they’re soloing!

Satriani relates his solos so closely to the scales, that for him, there’s no difference. Does that mean his solos always sound like scales?

No, far from it.

But it means that every note he plays is somehow, in some way, related to the scale, and he knows it and uses it. So don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t need any scales to learn how to solo – you can take it from the best that you do need them.

To learn the three main scale patterns you need, to cover the whole fretboard, and how to relate them to every key, I recommend my Guitar Scale Patterns course.

Now go practice your scales!

Ever struggle to hold together a guitar solo?

pianoOn Saturday I helped a friend move.

The first thing I thought of when he asked me was “Does this guy have an old piano?”

Over the years I’ve moved several friends with pianos… not to mention my own family growing up. (we had this massively heavy thing made in 1908… we also had stairs!)

Anyhow, thankfully he didn’t have a piano, but it reminded me of the last time I had moved the best electric piano.

You know how certain events trigger memories, every time?

So we’re moving a friend, and everything else is out of the truck. The piano was right close to the tailgate, and the truck was on a bit of a slope.

I come out of the house just as another guy notices the piano is starting to go… he dashes over to the truck and throws his body into this piano, hoping to save it from crashing four feet to the concrete.

A brave thing to do, but if it had gone badly… well, it didn’t 🙂

Nevertheless, the image of him feverishly holding that piano on the truck is forever burned into my mind, hence why I think of it every time I have to move someone.

Funny thing is, I’ve seen guitar players in a similar situation.

They’re soloing away, having a merry old time, when all of a sudden things start to get out of hand.

Whatever it is – maybe they lose their timing, they look up at the crowd and get distracted, or they simply run into a mindblock…

Either way, you can tell they went in an instant from “I’ve got this solo totally under control” to “Oh snap – I hope I can hold this thing together until the end!”

What to do in a situation like that?

Brute force or throwing your body in front doesn’t work, for a guitar solo.

The answer is to head back to your safe zone.

That’s the scale, by the way.

The scale patterns should be the foundation you’re working off to start out with, but I know plenty of times guys end up wandering away.

Same reason skiers go out of bounds, I guess.

But those guitar scales and patterns are your safe zones, because you KNOW every note in there is going to work well.

So, all you need to know are the three most important scale patterns with which you can cover the entire fretboard, and you’re good to go.

I cover those three patterns in great detail in my Guitar Scale Patterns course – plus a ton more besides, so that you really understand how they all fit together and how to move between them.

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Using Octaves in Guitar Solos

Adding the octave, or perfect 8th interval onto some of your licks can really add a totally new flavor to your guitar solos.

If you’d like to learn more about intervals and the scales, checkout my Guitar Scale Patterns course.

In this lesson, Colin demonstrates how you can use the octaves all over the fretboard. The general rule for finding the octave is to go down 2 strings and up 2 frets… however you have to be careful, because if you’re crossing the 2nd string (B) you’ll need to add one more fret onto that pattern for it to work correctly. Colin talks about this in the lesson.

The hardest part about getting this riff down correctly is learning to mute the string in between the two notes you’re playing. In general, I like to rest my index finger lightly on that in between string to cut down on any noise it produces. It’s worth practicing a bit just to make sure you can get a clean interval while you’re strumming.

Alternatively of course, simply finger pick both notes together, or one after the other, and avoid the problem entirely.

You can find many more guitar lessons by Colin Daniel at RiffNinja.com.

Using Guitar Octaves In Your Solo:

Watch the Guitar Octaves lesson on Youtube