So many guitarists are into rock and there is so little out on how to play solos tastefully, but a lot of that has to do with the preconception that if you make enough noise you are a rocker. False. Look at all the great rock guitarists: David Gilmour, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Angus Young, Eddie Van Halen, Gary Rossington and Allen Collins (of Skynyrd Freebird fame) and Slash. Such a small sampling of players, but such an amazing show of talent. They had their technique but they were all masters of the following five tips.
1. Accurate Bending
Seasoned guitarists may scoff at this suggestion, but for new guys, the idea of bending is simply that. You bend a note, that's it right? Well, in a word, no. You bend at note to approach and land on another note. You are going from one note to another with a bend. For example, if you bend a D note as a full step bend, you better makes sure that the bend lands on an E.
This takes practice and an ear. Try playing both notes, and then bending to match the higher note. If you need inspiration, listen to any David Gilmour.
2. Strong/Smooth Vibrato
There is very little that will make your held notes pop. Vibrato is pretty much all we got (except for perhaps feedback, but we'll get to that in a second). Practice is religiously. Never just hold a note. Ever. Don't do it. Practice that vibrato, and once you have it down and its super smooth and strong, then you can decide when to use it.
Listen to all the great guitarists to hear them play vibrato, they all do it and its all amazing and each type of vibrato fits the style of music.
3. Pinch Harmonics/Whammy Bar/Feedback
This one is kind of a gimmick but it can add so much emotion to a song that its uniqueness is part of the charm. Just make sure it fits the style. Pinch harmonics are great for grungy blues types, the whammy bar is great for vibratto in smooth passages or for drops in breaks and feedback is great for creating organized chaos.
Check out Billy Gibbon's for pinch harmonics, and live Jimi Hendrix for whammy bar and feedback inspiration. Remember, don't use these gimmicks for the sake of using them, it should fit the music.
Just paying the bills:
4. Scale Runs/Repeated Licks
This is something that is often overlooked by beginners, there is nothing wrong with a well placed scale run that builds up to a phrase or some repeated lick love. Often times they feel like they should be playing something completely unique but you sacrifice a sense of direction by meandering around. Both of these little concepts are littered throughout rock and used correctly, can be effective emotion flourishes in a solo.
For a little inspiration, check out Slash's solo in Sweet Child for the scale run build right as he turns on his Wah-Wah, notice how effectively he builds to a new section of solo? For repeated licks, look no further than Freebird. Need I say more?
Finally, we get to the most important part. While scale runs are great, they should always lead into a theme or phrase. Listen to any great guitar solo and notice how you can pretty much sing it! If the phrasing is strong, it should feel like a melody in its own right. So many great guitar solos have this that it can't be a coincidence, go out and listen and sign the phrases. Try to recreate them. Understand them.
As a hint, try singing what you play. You'll need to take breaths of air so stop playing as you breath. You want to mimick the human voice, why else would people always say "He makes that guitar sing!"?
Did I miss any? If so, feel free to leave me a comment or hit up the forum and give me a piece of your mind! If I can handle the crazy Youtube comments, I think I can handle your suggestion...
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