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What do you do with solos???


(@phillyblues)
Estimable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 127
Topic starter  

I've been playing for a little over a year now and, overall, I'm pleased with my progress. One area that I struggle with, however, is playing the solos on the songs I'm learning. For the most part, I'm comfortable with learning/playing the intro, chorus, verse sections, etc. on most of the advanced beginner/intermediate songs I've taken on, however, as soon as I hit the solo section it all falls apart.

Part of it is speed and I know that will come with time and more practice but here's my question for those of you who struggle with the same thing...do you still try to muddle through and learn the entire solo for practice sake, or do you skip it altogether and tell yourself you'll get back to it later when your skills are more developed.

As for me, I usually find myself working diligently through the first few measures of the solo. It seems like I work those handful of measures for weeks and feel pretty good about myself for a while. Inevidably, though, I start feeling overwhelmed with trying to learn the entire solo and find myslef moving on. It could be just a case of ADD.

Suggestions welcome


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(@davidhodge)
Member Moderator
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4485
 

One thing that might help is to see if you can get through some relatively easy (yet somewhat challenging), and short, solos to (a)build up your confidence that you can do it and (b - and more important) prove that you can do it.

If you're a Gilmore fan, try outro from Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 or the guitar solo in Mother or the first solo from Comfortably Numb.

Getting one complete solo under your belt might give you the desire to move on to longer and more challenging pieces, but again, try to go one step at a time. Makes things a lot easier.

Hope this helps.

Peace


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(@phillyblues)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 127
Topic starter  

Thanks David, that will work out perfectly, I'm a huge Gilmore fan and my wife purchased me a great collection of Pink Floyd tabs this past Christmas. I'll check out the song solos you suggested.

Regards,
Emad


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(@davidhodge)
Member Moderator
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4485
 

You're welcome.

I noted in another thread that you're also into AC/DC. They've got a lot of good transcription books out on them and many of those solos will also fit the bill. Back in Black, if I'm remembering correctly, is pretty much based on the pentatonic scale and also good for developing those "short bursts of speed licks.

Hopefully Wes Inman will pop by and chime in with many more examples.

Peace


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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1092
 

I solved the whole lead/solo problem I've always had...

I do only rhythm.

"Check out Guitar George, he knows all the chords
But he don't want to make it cry or sing..."

Dat's me! Sorry, I'm not helping.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


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(@moonrider)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1309
 

I've been playing for a little over a year now and, overall, I'm pleased with my progress. One area that I struggle with, however, is playing the solos on the songs I'm learning.

Right now there's only two reasons I'll bother to learn any lead guitar part "note for note." Most of the time it's because it's an essential hook for the song (e.g lead guitar intro to "Life in the Fast Lane, melody line for Cissy Strut). Sometimes it's because i want to figure out exactly what the guitar player was doing (e.g. the totally cool augmented runs in some of Steely Dan's stuff).

BUT, if it's a section of the song the original artist obviously improvised, that's exactly what I do. I improvise.

Yeah - I hear the question . . . "But how did you learn to improvise a solo?"

Short answer: I copied other people.

Long Answer: But there's more to it than just parroting what other people did. The crusty, old, chain-smoking. jazz playing, dearly beloved teacher I had pounded basic and intermediate music theory into my thick teenaged skull all those years ago. We would sit down and analyze why a solo worked. Then he'd send me home to learn it. The next week, I'd duly parrot the solo, then he'd switch up the chord progression and tell to use what I'd learned to create a NEW solo. I could borrow the licks, but the overall melody line had to be MINE. After a while it became second nature to "hear" my own solo melodies in my head and be able to play them back as I "heard" them without consciously thinking "A F#,G#, E . . . ."

So just don't focus on parroting what other people do. Try to understand why what they do sounds good, then apply that understanding to creating your own melodies and improvisations.

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

Moondawgs on Reverbnation


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(@mmoncur)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 168
 

"Time" and "Wish You Were Here" are more Pink Floyd songs with (relatively) easy solos.

Myself, I skip the solos (or play rhythm behind them) in lots of songs right now. Nothing wrong with that.


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

+1 on Moonrider's comments: learn hook or signature riff phases. then do whatever you think works -- either in the style of the tune's original solo (including the signature hooks/riffs), or do your own thing.

if I really like someone's solo, I am far more interested in learning to create the feel (signature riffage, scale use, intervals, phrasing and rhythm) than copying the exact notes as played on the original. when I understand why it worked, then I can adapt it to my own playing -- maybe even use the that feel to cross genres.

Not everyone will agree with this, but I also recommend:

work within your own playing limits. stretch yourself while practicing. but when performing or recording, do yourself a big favor and relax and do what you are well capable of doing. and do it well. enjoy the moment, instead of sweating it out in an another "omg, will I pull this off?" moment. inspiration will hit you once in a while and you will exceed what you thought you could do. but simpler and well executed will win over really-hard-to-play and botched all over the place. and even simple is really not simple, as you can always up the complexity with nuance as you become more capable.

90% of the time, keep it short. unless they are just so incredibly compelling, moving, killer, fascinating, most solos are best kept short, as the audience gets bored. short and sweet is always so much better than one or two good parts in a muddle of long and rambling.

-=tension & release=-


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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4933
 

Music is a language. Just like any other language, we learn by imitating the sounds others make... and then we put those sounds together to make our own sentences, paragraphs, and stories.

I wouldn't limit imitation to hooks or signature riffs - there are great phrases buried in the middle of many solos that are worthy of taking apart, figuring out what you like about 'em, and reassembling. It's how we find our own voice... not by inventing a new language, but by becoming fluent enough in an existing one that we can tell our own tales to others!

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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 cnev
(@cnev)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478
 

Hey Philly I'm in the same boat as you except I've played a few years longer. I do have some solo's down and several long but slow ones but for the most part they still give me trouble.

And unlike some of the other posters I try and learn a solo as close to note for note as I can...Why because I think it's good practice for the physical aspects of actually playing guitar. Now maybe I am not expanding my musicality by not venturing out and trying to improv the solos but that's what I have chosen to do. Plus it forces me to either learn those techniques if I want to paly the song ( I can't make up some easy parts because I couldn't play the original)

In my grand scheme of playing if I can play these solo's note for note then I'm ready to try and go changing and adding my own twist to them...if I can't then I'm not worthy yet :D .

But at this point in my life I had to make decisons on what I want to be doing and for now the reality is I will at best be playing cover songs with friends or in a band and for the most part I do beleive that people (including myself) like to hear covers the way they were recorded.

But I would agree with David just try finding shorter, slower solo's to start. But eventually you just have to dig in and start trying the longer more difficult stuff, I really haven't found playing a short solo helping in any way to play a long one other than getting a one time ego boost that you got some sort of solo under your belt.

AC/DC songs have fairly easy solo's one of the first I learned was Shook me all Night Long..that's pretty easy.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@rum-runner)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 424
 

If you like country the solo from Willie Nelson's "Blue Eyes Cryin' In The Rain" is short, easy, slow, and very beautiful. I just learned that one myself recently.

Regards,

Mike

"Growing Older But Not UP!"


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 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 659
 

I have a feeling that philly and I may be playing around the same level- I play some half decent rythm, and some less than half decent lead. And I screw around with playing the stuff I know different ways a lot.

Most other posters seem to have said more than I can, but I'd add this. Learn Scales. Practice the HELL out of scales. Play them up and down, and mixed up. Play them slow. Play them (kind of) fast. Skip notes. Slide up and down the fretboard to new positions on the same scales. Know the whole fretboard for the scales you know.

Because for me, one minor recent breakthrough was when I started to recognise the scale a solo was based on. When you discover that a solo you like is based on a scale you know, if you REALLY know the scale, there's a lot you can do with it.

I also think it's great to learn solos you really love note by note. It doesn't mean that you have to play them that way later, if you don't want- but learning them is great for your chops, as well as for understanding the music.

For a sort of hard, but not impossible workout at soloing, I recommend "the Loner," by Gary Moore. Actually anything by Gary Moore. Tends to be long, though, so I often just select sections to learn.

Best,
Ande


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(@phillyblues)
Estimable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 127
Topic starter  

Thanks all, as usual, just a tremendous amount of good advice...


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10340
 

I solved the whole lead/solo problem I've always had...I do only rhythm.

Beat me to the punch there......

Although that's not strictly true - I play mostly rhythm, but I do like to try and solo. Problem is, most of the solos I play on my own songs always sound very similar to each other....

So what I try to do, when I'm learning a new song, is stay close to the spirit of the solo....probably try and get the first few bars down pretty much note for note, then try and get something similar in feel going. It'll sound different every time I play it, which I think is a good thing in one way - I'll never get bored with it! - but a bad thing in another way - I'll never get used to the strict discipline needed to play the same notes over and over.

Take, for instance, a song I've been "playing" for years - More Than A Feeling. I always had a sneaky feeling I was close, but not spot on - then I found out the C chord I'd been playing should be a Cadd9, and the G chord - 320003 - I'd been playing should be fingered 320033. Subtle differences, but noticeable. The solo I play starts off pretty similar to Tom Scholz's, but then when he goes high up the neck, I tend to stay in pretty much the same position - that's down to my lead playing being nothing remotely like in the same class as his. But it does sound decent when I solo along with the CD - at least I'm in key!

I also think it's true that after a while, EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT THAT GOOD, you do tend to develop your own style, your own little quirks - for me, it's a lot of big bends and a lot of vibrato, certain licks I use in different places on the fretboard, and little runs I tend to over-use. Holding a big bend and slowly releasing it is another little technique I tend to use a lot....there are others, but I won't bore you with those. I know my faults!

So, after a lot of years playing guitar, I'm finding soloing more difficult than rhythm. I guess some people are just natural rhythm players - I've been told my timing's good, and that's a big plus - and some are more adventurous and can come up with - or at least copy - fluent solos. I don't think I'll ever get there - that kind of natural fluency seems beyond my capabilities - but it won't stop me from trying. I always think to myself after taking a solo, "it can only get better" - and sometimes it does. That's what keeps me going!

The Yngwies, Blackmores, Vais and Satrianis would probably be bored witless playing a nice steady rhythm - say, four simple chords. Me? I'd think, "Thank (insert deity of your choice here) for something I can PLAY!"

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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(@moonrider)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1309
 

I solved the whole lead/solo problem I've always had...I do only rhythm.

Beat me to the punch there......

That just means you have your priorities in the right order. A song will be recognizable without a lead guitar. With no rhythm guitar, you don't have a song at all.

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

Moondawgs on Reverbnation


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