Would you like to have the power to play guitar solos that force others to stop what they are doing and take notice (without playing anything really technical)?
To create killer guitar solo ideas that simply ‘can’t be ignored’ by your listeners, you will need to do two things: 1. Establish a familiar pattern to create a ‘musical expectation’ AND 2. Go against this expectation to surprise your listener. Fact is, this is ‘not’ hard and there are countless ways to accomplish this in your lead guitar phrasing. In this article, I will explain the process described above using a step by step approach.
Before I go on, it is ESSENTIAL that you check out the lead guitar soloing video below to hear the in-depth explanation behind this guitar soloing approach. When I say it is essential, I mean it – If you do not do this first, you will not get the maximum benefit from the information in the rest of this article. Once you have watched the video below, return to this page and I will guide you through the step by step process that will help you create totally killer guitar solos.
Step #1: Begin by writing a guitar phrase in common time (4/4) that uses one of the following choices: a group of eighth notes or a group of sixteenth notes. The phrase should be a repeating pattern that can be easily played over and over (starting over every 8 or 16 notes), so it’s important to use the same note values here. After making your selection, play the phrase you created over a backing track. Here is a 4/4 drums backing track that I have provided for your convenience. Play your melody over this track now.
HINT: By using pedal point phrasing (as demonstrated in the video above) you will make the following steps easier to do. Additionally, you can use a similar idea to the one seen below, where every note is picked two times:
(I encourage you to create your own ideas as well)
Step #2: Play the short guitar phrase you created over the 4/4 drums backing track and repeat it many times. This step is important because:
A. Repeating the guitar phrase several times creates a reoccurring pattern. This has the effect of establishing a strong expectation in the mind of your listeners that the pattern will ‘keep going’.
B. It helps make the next step even more surprising and powerful.
Step #3. It’s time to really surprise the listener by doing something totally unexpected. You are going to create the feel of ‘three against four’ with your guitar phrase (as you heard in the video). A very easy way to accomplish this feel is to shorten the phrase you came up with so that it can fit into a meter that uses three beats per measure while you keep playing over the backing track that uses FOUR beats per measure. Compare the image below to the first one from above to see how you can change your guitar phrase to give it the feel of three against four:
Pay close attention to the fact that the rhythm of the notes remains unchanged (as you noticed in the video). By following this example, the music will play in 4/4 while your shorter guitar phrase will play against it – beginning again on a different pulse than the music itself. This creates a sense of strong musical tension that will be unavoidable to anyone who listens to your guitar solo. This will absolutely DEMAND their attention!
Step #4. At some point, the new guitar phrase will eventually line up with the beat of the backing track (remember the value of each note remained the same). Once this happens, you will need to decide on what to do next. You can choose between any of the following actions:
A. Keep playing the altered guitar phrase in order to maintain the feel of three against four.
B. Revert back to your original phrase and play in perfect time with the backing track.
C. Choose different notes and create a new phrase.
Notice: Although playing guitar in this manner will certainly create unexpected results for your listeners (in a good way), if you play the same idea over many times it will create new expectations for them. In other words, you must ‘balance’ the process of introducing new ideas and ‘developing’ them in order to keep your playing interesting for your audience. The longer you repeat an idea, the less ‘novel’ it feels to the listener (even if it is a really cool idea).
Additionally, do not limit yourself to using this three against four approach only in lead guitar playing scenarios. All of the steps in this article can be followed to create cool riffs for rhythm guitar as well. There exist endless possibilities for creative application with the three against four concept as well as tons of examples similar to the ones provided in this article.
Now that you have learned the unique guitar phrasing approach discussed in this article, apply it into your guitar solos to unlock endless musical possibilities for your guitar playing!
Get guitar solo playing tips to help you become a better lead guitar player.
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 and metal guitar lessons online. Go to tomhess.net to get more guitar skill improvement resources and find useful guitar eBooks.