A Minor Solo Ideas

This month I would like to share some solo ideas and strategies that will help you build a memorable solo. These are in the key of C major or the Aeolian mode [A,B,C,D,E,F,G]. I do most examples in C but encourage you to play it in any key.

The solo starts with an attention grabbing lick that highlights the IV,V and VI chords (Fmaj, Gmaj and Am) and ends with a 2 bar phrase with a strange sweep picking lick on the 3rd thru 5th strings that lands on an F at the end of beat 1 bar 3. Then I go to a Cmaj7 arpeggio across all six strings that desends down, then Am arpeggios moving to what I call a combo arpeggio bar 4 starting beat 3 of Em, sliding into Fmaj7 to a desending Dm arpeggio landing on a G.

That's the first part of the solo, then I move to an alternate picking pattern doing 16th notes that ends again on a G in measure 8. In he next move, I desend down the scale in a quirky, almost 16th note triplet pattern, but because I start it behind the beat it breaks things up nicely, ending on an A.

In measure 9, the climax of the solo starts with an asending 16th note pattern, moving into a hammer-on part using 16th note triplets going into a string skipping part that highlights Fmaj and Cmaj.

I like to think of solos as having a beginning, middle and an end. It makes it more interesting to listen to and takes the listener on a ride. If you think this way, you won't have to worry about playing the same thing over and over. Notice how each part uses different techniques; the first part features sweep picking, the second alternate picking and the third combines alternate picking, hammer-ons and string skipping. Different techniques will help you maintain interest in a solo, and make it easier to listen to. There isn't a lot of bending or vibrato in this solo. I will save that for another time.


Mike O'Malley's instrumental power trio is called No Walls and their latest CD is entitled "World Abroad". He has been playing guitar for almost 30 years and graduated from Music Tech in Minneapolis in 1988.

O'Malley currently has 45 guitar students that range in all ability levels and styles.

Mike O'Malley