Do your rock guitar improvisations not sound as good as you’d like them to? If so, don’t worry… you are certainly not alone. In fact, almost every rock guitar player out there would love to be able to play great rock guitar solos off the top of his head. That said, very few guitarists actually CAN improvise great guitar solos. Why is this?
Here are the two main reasons:
1. The majority of guitar players who want to play guitar solos think that they must build their solos from a series of isolated guitar licks in order to make them sound better (although this is not true).
2. A very high percentage of the guitar playing community has NOT invested much time into developing their guitar phrasing abilities. This severely limits their ability to improvise inspiring guitar solo licks because they only understand ‘what’ needs to be played but not ‘how’ to play it!
In order to take your rock guitar solo licks to the next level and improvise more creatively, you will need to train with intense focus and dedication toward expanding your knowledge of the two previously mentioned points (this is something my rock guitar students learn while taking lessons with me). That said, you can get quick results in your rock guitar soloing abilities by examining the guitar licks with which you are already familiar and trying the get more out of them. By doing this, you can improvise ideas that sound good without actually learning new guitar licks. With this in mind, let me show you how you can develop the ability to do this on your own.
Here is the approach that you should use:
1. Choose a series of chords to solo over and record yourself playing them many times for two to three minutes (or simply find a backing track online if you like). Make sure that you are comfortable soloing over these chords.
2. Think of a short guitar melody that you are already familiar with and can play with reliable accuracy.
3. Start the track with the chords you made (or found online) and play the guitar lick you chose over it.
4. After you have played your guitar lick one time over the backing track, do NOT play something new. Rather than adding in a totally new lick, play the same lick from step two; except this time make a variation of this lick using any one of the following methods:
· Play the notes with altered note rhythm values (keep the actual pitches the same though, only change the rhythm)
· Use alternate pitches for the lick you are playing but retain the original note rhythms.
· Keep all of the notes in the guitar lick the same except for the last few notes (this can sound really nice when there is a chord change at the end as well).
· Utilize different techniques such as vibrato, legato and bending to add extra ornamentation to your lick.
Try to come up with a total of ten alternate ways to play the guitar lick you chose without entirely changing the lick itself. I know that in a “real” guitar solo you will not be playing the exact same lick over and over. However, by going through this process, you can greatly enhance your ability to improvise creative guitar solo ideas.
After you have improvised ten variations, choose a new guitar lick that is different from the previous one and repeat the steps of this exercise for the remainder of your guitar practice session.
The majority of guitar players approach rock guitar soloing and improvisation in a totally different manner than what is described above. However, by coming up with different ways to alter and vary a single guitar soloing idea, you can quickly make improvements to your rock guitar improvisation skills that you simply wouldn’t make if you were taking the generally used method of trying to cram together a bunch of random ideas. On top of that, the approach in this article will help your guitar soloing sound better because you will have many opportunities to enhance a guitar lick that you already like to play using a variety of guitar techniques. By doing this you will quickly improve your guitar phrasing skills while having a more enjoyable time practicing and playing something that sounds good in the moment.
The exercise in this article is certainly ‘not’ complicated. That said, in additional to not being complicated, it is also highly effective (you WILL see results if you consistently use the process I have described!). I have used this method to help many guitar players make MASSIVE progress in their ability to improvise rock guitar solos.
To see for yourself how this process works to improve your rock guitar improvisation skills (you will see the immediate and massive changes it can bring to your guitar playing), watch the guitar solo video below:
Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and the guitar player for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He teaches guitar players from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. Visit his website tomhess.net to get free guitar playing resources and to read more guitar playing articles.