9 Essential Tips to Play A Guitar Solo

Want to learn how to play a guitar solo? You’re in the right place! 

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • 9 quick & easy steps which will turn you into a solo god!
  • The no1 secret that will make your guitar solos sound amazing.
  • How to play the perfect guitar solo.

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Picture the scene, you’re on stage, and the spotlight is on you. It’s time for your guitar solo and you want to impress everyone with your awesome solo skills!

However, something’s doesn’t feel right. You feel stiff and un-relaxed. Everything you play sounds awful. What should have been your big moment, turns into something which is embarrassing

Does this sound familiar? If it does, don’t worry. We’re going to show you 9 easy tips and tricks which will show you how to play a guitar solo.

How To Play A Guitar Solo | Step #1 Find Out The Key Of The Song

The very first thing you should do before taking your solo is:

Find out the key of the song.

You must know what the key of the song is as this tells you what scales and arpeggios you can play.

Learn Guitar Solos

How do I find out the key of a song?

To find out the key of a song, find out what the first and last chord of the song are.

For example, here’s a chord progression:

C Major | G Major | A Minor | C Major

In this chord progression, the first and last chord is a C major. Therefore the key of this song is in C major.

Learn more about guitar keys here: How To Play Lead Guitar

If all else fails, ask someone!

If you can’t quickly work out the key to a song, just ask someone else in the band. Usually your fellow guitarist or bass player will be able to help you.

Guitar Solo

How To Play A Guitar Solo | Step #2 Find A Scale That Works

To learn how to play a guitar solo, you must know your scales. Scales form 99% of ALL guitar solos. Learning the key, tells you what scale you should play.

For example, if something is in the key of C major, you can use a:

  • C Major Scale.
  • C Major Pentatonic.

If something is in the key of A minor, you can use a:

  • A Minor Scale.
  • A Minor Pentatonic.

Notice how the scale relates to the key?

To learn guitar scales, go here: Learn Guitar Scales In 8 Easy Steps

If you’re not sure what scale to use, experiment with a couple of different scales and find one that works!

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It's hard to understand which scales work with which keys.

So we created a cheat-sheet! A key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

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How To Play A Guitar Solo | Step #3 Play The Root Note

The easiest way to sound amazing when playing a guitar solo is to:

Play the root note of a scale.

The root note is your hero note. This note will ALWAYS sound good. The root note is the first note in a scale or chord.

For example, if something is in the key of C major. Your root note is a ‘C’.

To learn more about root notes go here: Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play A Guitar Solo

How To Play A Guitar Solo | Step #4 Listen To The Music

Before you play a note, listen to what’s happening around you.

The music around you tells you what to play. You could be the most amazing guitar soloist, but if your solo doesn’t fit with the music you won’t sound good.

Think of your solo like a conversation. The last thing you want to do when you speak to someone is speak at them. You must interact with another person to have a good conversation.

Do the same when you solo, have a musical conversation with the musicians in your band.

How To Play A Guitar Solo | Step #5 Think Before You Play

If you want to learn how to play a guitar solo correctly, you must think before you play. Don’t rush into your solo!

If you give some thought to your solo, BEFORE you play. We guarantee that you will become a better soloist.

Your guitar solo MUST be the highlight of the song. It’s not okay to just noodle in any scale. Your guitar solo must be memorable.

How To Play A Guitar Solo | Step #6 Don’t play ALL the notes

Just because you can play all of the notes on your guitar. It doesn’t mean that you should.

Be tasteful when you take a guitar solo, pick and choose notes.

Many guitarists make the mistake of just playing continuous notes because they don’t know what to play.

Silence is your best friend when you take a guitar solo.

How To Play A Guitar Solo

How To Play A Guitar Solo | Step #7 Give Your Solo Space

If you’re finding it hard to stop playing notes. Try this cool lead guitar hack:

Every time you breath out, play. Every time you breath in, stop.

The reason guitarists fall into the trap of playing continuously is because they have no limitations. It’s impossible for a vocalist or saxophonist to play notes continuously because they HAVE to breathe.

However, you can use the same idea on your guitar. You will sound better if you leave space in your guitar solos.

Want to hear some great guitar solos? Check out this article by Guitar World: 50 Greatest Guitar Solos | Guitar World

Bonus Video!

Check out this video from Mike for 5 awesome lead guitar licks.

How To Play A Guitar Solo | Step #8 Don’t Play All Your Best Ideas First

When you take a guitar solo, it’s important to take your time. Don’t use all of your best ideas straight away.

Think of your guitar solo as if you were telling someone a cool story. You don’t just jump straight to the major plot line, you set the scene and explain the key details.

When you begin your guitar solo, play less. As your solo progresses, add in your hero licks! Your guitar solo must build up dynamically.

How To Play A Guitar Solo | Step #9 Consider Your Guitar Tone

It’s essential that you consider your guitar tone. Do you want a distorted or clean guitar sound? Does it need any delay or reverb?

It’s important that your sound ‘fits’ in with the music. Don’t crank up the gain if it’s a gentle ballad. Don’t have a clean sound if it’s a heavy metal track!

Make sure that you are stylistically appropriate.

To learn more about guitar tone, go here: How To Play Electric Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide

Guitar Tone

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