Creating Rock Guitar Solo Improvisations

Are you having a hard time thinking up great rock guitar solo improvisations? If so, you are in the company of many guitarists. Fact is, there are endless amounts of guitar players who want to play guitar solos in a highly creative manner; however, for one reason or another, very few have the ability to do so. So why does this happen?

  1. A very high percentage of the guitar playing community has not invested much time into developing their guitar phrasing abilities. This severely limits their ability to improvise inspiring guitar solo licks because they only understand 'what' needs to be played but not 'how' to play it!
  2. The majority of guitar players who want to play guitar solos think that they must build their solos from a series of isolated guitar licks in order to make them sound better (although this is not true).

If you are looking to make massive positive change in your ability to improvise rock guitar solos, it will require consistent and focused effort to build your understanding of the points above (I teach my guitar students in detail about these things with my correspondence rock guitar lessons). With this in mind, you can work on improving your rock guitar improvisation skills right now using the guitar licks you already know very well. In fact, by doing this you can quickly create great guitar solo improvisation ideas in the moment without learning any new guitar melodies. To illustrate how you can do this for yourself, I am going to show you a highly effective guitar soloing approach.

Here is the process you should follow:

  1. Locate a backing track that contains chords you feel good soloing over.
  2. Think of a short guitar melody that you are already familiar with and can play with reliable accuracy.
  3. Start the track with the chords you made (or found online) and play the guitar lick you chose over it.
  4. After you have played your guitar lick one time over the backing track, do not play something new. Rather than adding in a totally new lick, play the same lick from step two; except this time make a variation of this lick using any one of the following methods:
    • Use an alternate rhythm for the notes you are playing while keeping the actual pitches the same.
    • Change some or all of the pitches in your guitar lick while keeping the rhythm of the notes the same.
    • Create a different ending for the lick you are playing while playing all of the previous notes the same (additionally, try this while the chords of the backing track are changing).
    • Utilize different techniques such as vibrato, legato and bending to add extra ornamentation to your lick.

Try to come up with a total of ten alternate ways to play the guitar lick you chose without entirely changing the lick itself. I know that in a "real" guitar solo you will not be playing the exact same lick over and over. However, by going through this process, you can greatly enhance your ability to improvise creative guitar solo ideas.

After you have improvised ten variations, choose a new guitar lick that is different from the previous one and repeat the steps of this exercise for the remainder of your guitar practice session.

The approach described above is an entirely different one than the one most guitarists take when they improvise rock guitar solos. Focusing on coming up with many variations of a single guitar solo lick is actually a lot less difficult than trying to jam together several unrelated guitar licks and improvise at the same time. Additionally, this process of improvising a single rock guitar lick will sound much better because you have many different guitar phrasing techniques at your disposal that you can use to enhance the notes of each lick you choose.

You may think that this guitar soloing approach sounds like a really basic approach. If so, you're right… this approach is both basic and incredibly productive at building your rock guitar playing skills. In fact, this is the same approach I have used many hundreds of times to help guitar players learn to play great lead guitar improvisations.

Learn how you can play great rock guitar solos using the exact approach in this article by checking out this free guitar improvisation video:

Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches, trains and mentors musicians from around the world.

Visit his site to discover highly effective music learning resources, guitar lessons, music career mentoring and tools including free online assessments, surveys, mini courses and more.

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