This is something I know very little about. I understand a general idea of how you can approach using chromatic runs during a solo to make things sound more interesting, but nothing too advanced.
"So how are you going to teach how to use chromatic notes in solos?"
Well, I'm not. Guthrie Govan is!
I found this lesson to be very informative on how to utilize chromatic notes, and wanted to share it!
John Petrucci is a beast on guitar. He is also one of the few super shredders who can ACTUALLY TEACH.
In a Guitar World lesson, John shows two "shred runs" that look like the opposite of how it sounds.
What the heck does that mean?
It means the notes ascend when his hand descends.
Crossroads tends to be a pretty popular movie among guitarists. ESPECIALLY those who like shredding.
Although the "karate kid" faked all his playing, Steve Vai was the real deal.
Plenty of people have wanted to learn how to play the final solos of this movie to show off their guitar playing egos.
Thankfully, Troy Grady of Cracking the Code has made learning some of this stuff easier. Here's a lesson showing how to play the "intimidation lick".
PLENTY of guitar players use the finger-tapping technique to create rapid, fast sounding notes in their solos. RARELY do you ever see or hear someone using more than one finger on their tapping hand.
Joel Hoekstra did a lesson with Guitar World that shows some examples on how to use 2 and 3 fingers on your tapping hand to create some cool sounding patterns.
Joel does a damn good job of muting the strings not being played to get a very clean performance.
Here's the video lesson:
Guitar World was kind enough to provide tablature, and more video, for each of the examples here: http://www.guitarworld.com/columns-rock/your-guide-fretboard-tapping-using-mulitple-fingers/29448
Fellow shredder, The Count, challenged me to a shred battle!
For those of you who love a good wanker fest and lots of widdly widdly wah, check out this video:
The Count has made some pretty damn entertaining videos. I highly recommended checking out his channel.
A not so common thing to do on guitar is combining finger tapping with bending strings. It can create a really cool sound and add some unique flavor to your solos.
Check out the following video to see some examples of how to do this:
Here are the tabbed examples shown in the video:
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It's very easy to get a lot of unwanted noise when bending strings on the guitar. You must be able to mute out adjacent strings to the one you're bending.
Some things that can help is to always use your picking hand to mute out all strings lower than the one you're bending. That means if you're bending the G string, your hand should be aiming to mute the E, A, and D strings.
If you're bending the high E string then you'll be trying to mute out the E, A, D, G, and B strings.
Having at least one finger on the fret hand muting the adjacent strings helps too. Let's take your index finger for example, and you're bending the B string. Your index finger needs to be barely touching the G string AND the high E string.
These ideas will make a lot more sense after you watch this video:
Do you hate the way your own guitar solos sound? Have you thought about why?
If you don't like what you've been playing, I have some questions for you.
Are you playing in the appropriate key? Are you using the correct scales? Are you staying within those scales?
If the answer is no for those questions, then that may be a good place to start looking. It's important to know what key you are going to solo in, and what scales work with that key.
However, if you answered yes to those questions, then perhaps you are actually playing better than you realize.
Quite often, people are just overly critical of themselves and will automatically put down anything they do. This is especially true when it comes to those new to learning guitar. Even if it actually does sound good, their mindset is already focused on the negative and that's that.
So, if you're playing in the correct key, using the right scales, perhaps you can ask your teacher to listen to you play and get their opinion. You can also ask friends or family members. If you're brave enough, you can post an audio clip or video of you doing some improv online. I'm more than happy to take a listen to what you're working on.
Now, if you get compliments on your playing, I invite you to accept them and the idea that you actually play better than you give yourself credit for.
And, as always, the more you play solos the better they'll sound to you. So keep playing, and keep trying to have fun with your leads!
The only way to get really good at improvising guitar solos (aka: improv) is to play a LOT of solos.
I realize that's not a very glamorous answer, but it's the truth. But, where do you start and how?
Something that will help you get off to a great start to making up your guitar leads is to learn at least one scale. The video demonstration of this lesson at the end of the blog uses the A minor scale.
All you have to do is play any of those notes, in any order, as many times as you want, any way you want while playing over a backing track. If you go to YouTube and search for A minor backing track, or C Major backing track, you can solo over those tracks with the A minor scale.
Here are some examples found on YouTube you can use:
Something to help your solos sound more pleasing to the ear is to always listen to resolve. What I mean by that is to listen to how the notes sound when you're playing around the scale, and when one note sounds really nice, let it ring out for a bit.
When you resolve something in music, I look at it like you are going to a note or chord that sounds like what you are playing is now complete, or finished.
A lot of music is about causing tension, then resolving, or releasing that tension. So, when you practice your solos, always listen for notes that sound like there is no tension and hold that note, letting it ring out for a bit.
When practicing over the A minor backing tracks, something you can try is to start on an A note. The locations of the A notes in the scale shown above are the 5th fret on the low E string, 7th fret on the D string, and 5th fret on the high E string.
Hit an A note, then start playing notes around that A note, then come back to the A note and let it ring out for a bit. Because A is the root note of the key it should resolve nicely most of the time.
You can also try this with a C note. The key of A minor and key of C Major are relative. They both share the same 7 notes: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.
The C notes in the scale shown above are found on the 8th fret of the low E string, 5th fret of the G string, and 8th fret of the high E string.
Once you become comfortable with starting and stopping on either A or C, try using your ear to find notes that sound good against the chords you are playing to, and let them ring out for a bit.
Allowing your notes to breathe will help to create more memorable solos and leads. The Tao De Ching says that "great music spares notes". This is true, because the spaces in between notes are what help give music life.
What I'm getting at is that it's important not to cram in as many notes as possible the entire time you're improvising. I'm guilty of this, as is nearly every guitarist when they first start making up their solos.
It's perfectly fine to play fast lines of notes in a solo, but they will be more memorable when spaced out.
To help get used to this idea, and to help train your ears to know when you just resolved your phrase, play slow. REALLY slow! Let your notes ring out for about a second or more. Really give your ears time to hear just how each note sounds against the chords you are playing over.
After playing slow for a while, and you feel comfortable with this, then you can try incorporating some speedy licks into your solo. Just remember to space them out so they sound more memorable and extra impressive!
Watch the following video for demonstrations of the ideas mentioned in this lesson.
John Taylor - guitar and bass instructor for Mile High Shred.