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Give Your Guitar Solos The Power Of A Singer’s Voice

Tom HessIf you’d like to create highly melodic guitar solos, you will benefit from taking a closer look at how your favorite singer sings. Singers use techniques and specific musical approaches that guitar players never think about. When you master the ability to make guitar solos with vocal phrasing, you will be able to create very expressive and unique music. Here is how I came to develop my own “singing” guitar solo style:

During the 90’s I was auditioning to play guitar for a band. In the end, I didn’t make it in the band, but I still have a strong memory of that day. As I was packing up my equipment to leave, the last thing I was told was this: “Don’t come back until you can make your guitar sing.” In that moment, I felt bad for not making the band, but to tell the truth, this statement was some of best advice I have ever received in music. Unfortunately, at that time I didn’t truly understand it, and had no clue how to “make my guitar sing.”

As the next few months went by, I became interested in learning all about the singers I listened to. I started to examine the way in which they sang their vocal phrases, the rhythms they used, the techniques they applied, and other subtle distinctions of their styles. Once I began to understand the characteristics specific to a singer’s style, I would learn to play their vocal lines on my guitar. I found that I could identify the specific notes of their phrases without much difficulty, but bringing out the subtle parts of the singer’s style in my guitar playing was a much larger task.

In the later 90’s I came across something that would totally change the way I played guitar. This was the time when I started listening to Rhapsody Of Fire. As I was listening to them, I was totally impressed by the incredible vocals of their singer (Fabio Lione). In fact, I was so impressed that I decided to really focus on learning as many vocal melodies from the band as possible. Eventually, I became familiar with almost every small subtlety in the vocal melodies of their music.

Here is the most valuable thing I learned:

It wasn’t important to know what specific pitches the singer was singing, but it was essential to find out why the singer would make particular phrasing choice with the music.  For instance, why do so many great singers use different styles of vibrato, why do some singers sing with really with strong vibrato, why do some singers sing with a more subtle vibrato. As soon as I began to think about these things, my guitar playing instantly started to grow to a new level.

A lot of you know that I was contacted in 2011 by Rhapsody Of Fire and asked to play guitar in the band. Due to my unique ability to play guitar solos with “singing” guitar phrasing, the band took a great interest in adding my guitar playing style to their music.

What is the main idea you can use from this?

The ability to make your guitar solos have a “singing” style is a highly valuable concept to learn. Understanding how singers think to create their melodies will help you to become much stronger in your own musical expression. Another great part of this is that when you combine the mindset of a guitarist and a singer, you create a totally new method of creating guitar solos. This will set you apart from the other players out there who all use the same ideas.

Try this out. Listen to your most favorite singer and try to really focus on and understand all the subtleties in the way he/she sings. After you’ve done this, write a guitar solo while emphasizing these ideas in your guitar phrasing.

Watch this video to see an example of a solo I quickly wrote using this exact process.

About The Author:
Tom Hess is a guitar teacher online, composer and a touring musician. He plays guitar in the epic metal band Rhapsody Of Fire. He teaches guitar players in his rock guitar lessons online.  Go to to get more guitar playing resources, guitar playing eBooks, and to read more guitar playing articles.

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