Are you tired of hearing yourself play the same thing over and over again? Maybe you’ve got a few scales under your belt, but nothing really sounds as good as you want it to. Your style feels mechanical, and sometimes forced. Maybe you’re already a badass and just want a refresh. Well fear not friends. Practice these 7 tips and I guarantee you will improve your guitar solos.
Here are the 7 ways to improve guitar solos
1. Start Low, Start Slow
Don’t come out of the gate with your signature moves. The point being: It leaves nothing to be desired. Everything you do after that moment is now not as cool because you’ve started with the face melter. Instead, work your way up to that climax…like a beautiful woman, take your time with it.
Skip to 2:15 to see John Mayer’s take on it, and keep watching until 5:40. ( you can watch the rest of the video later..it’s good).
2. Break it up
Just like anything in life, you need to take breaks! If you forget to breathe… you will die, likewise on the guitar. Create pauses. This leaves people hanging on the edge of their seats, waiting in anticipation on what you’re going to play next. Not only that, but it gives you time to think of what you want to play next. (And chances are it will be better for it). You should pause about as often as you breathe.
3. Nobody Likes a Screamer
Control the volume! Take everything we’ve already said, and add volume into the mix. The epic highlight of your solo…should be the loudest and most intense part – noticeably. If everything is one volume throughout the solo: Its flat, boring, and all the same. Imagine a heart rate monitor with no pulse. That’s your solo without sound control.
4. Licks? What licks?
While it’s always good to have an arsenal of licks at your disposal, don’t get caught up in them. Why? Because we’ve all heard them and we recognize them. If your focus during solos is on licks, then they wont be creative and inspiring. Use your licks as a safety net, or a fallback, that way you’ve always got an ace up your sleeve in case you get into trouble. When used properly, licks are great, but they shouldn’t control the playing style.
5. Sing to me
Find a melody. I know I know…This is a solo right? Why am I using words like…”melody”. Because now that licks aren’t dominating the scene, we can find our own voice! A melody is something that can compliment existing song parts. Reference them in a unique way by changing up the timing a little bit. It’s okay to repeat patterns to create phrases. If you change just one note in the phrase that you’ve created, it can be epic! (seriously, one note.) Why? Because the audience says “oh yea…I’ve heard this part before…big dea…OH SNAP.. he changed it!). They have an expectation, and you just shattered it.
6. Calm Down Kemosabe
So you’ve got your minor pentatonic scale down and memorized, but is that a good thing? All guitar players goes through a phase of: “everything I play sounds too scaley”. You see all the possible notes you can hit, and so you just keep hitting all of them until you land on a good one….maybe. Try doing more with less. Challenge yourself to play as few notes as possible and make them interesting. Remember repeating phrases we just talked about. Simplicity is always the greatest sign of mastery. Turn this into an exercise you use during practice. You might surprise yourself and play something good
7. Call for Backup
When you’ve gotten nice and warmed up, turn on a backing track. I like to do these towards the end of a practice session so I’m at my best playing. Plus, It’s like a reward for putting in the hard work of practice. Putting on a backing track is one of the easiest ways, I’ve found, to come up with new lead playing. If you always play alone then chances are you’re tired of always hearing yourself sound the same. Pick a new genre and put that puppy on. It’s a good way to get yourself out of a rut.
So, you wont have hands made of flames, but you will have some killer skills now. Remember, it’s not about playing the fanciest or the fastest. It about hitting the right note at the right time.
Did I miss any crucial tips? Speak up! Let your voice be heard in the comments section like your newly refined guitar solos. And if you got something out of this article, I’d really appreciate the small favor of liking my Facebook page.