Going Solo

Some of my intermediate students who are just getting started on the long, unending and slightly unforgiving journey of guitar soloing are often at a loss when it comes to starting on improvising. Improvising is a great way of jamming along with your favourite artists at home, and a really great way of meeting (and impressing) people at jam nights. However, improvising even a simple slow blues solo can be quite daunting and a lot of people seem to be really unsure of what to play. So I’ve put down 3 things that can help get started on soloing.

  1. Steal Everything

The best way to improve your own soloing is to blatantly steal other peoples’ solos. Start off just copying the artist’s solo, then as you get more familiar with it, start to change a few notes here and there. Eventually you will feel confident to play a completely new solo over the chord progression.

  1. Ditch the Tabs

So whilst your busy stealing everything, I should probably mention that tabs are not your friend. They are great for absolute beginners ONLY! You can play some riffs really quickly and they are very simple to read and understand, but other than that they are more hindrance than help. If you become too reliant on tabs, you never develop any real ear skills and never really commit what you are learning to memory. Try REALLY listening to the song. If you can sing the guitar solo, you should be able to play it and work it out slowly. PLUS by doing this, you will stumble across new ways of playing licks, as well as some new notes that work well in the song you’re learning!

If something you are learning is way to fast or messy to hear accurately, there are some apps and programs that can slow down mp3s. The one I use is called ‘Transcribe!’, and it has paid for itself many times over the years.

  1. Start Simple

If you haven’t done a lot of soloing or improvising before, pick something that’s close to your skill level. It’s no good starting off on Van Halen, as you will throw the guitar out the window within 5 minutes. Have a go at some BB King, or Eric Clapton (some of the slower tunes) and you’ll find you can get into it a lot easier. There are TONS of free backing tracks on youtube so just have a search for ‘Blues Backing Tracks’.

See if this can help you out at all!

Cheers,

Owen

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