I get often asked about how to approach constructing guitar solos. Well, there is a little madness to that, too. To me a guitar solo is like a little song within a song. And, a good solo is one that you simply can’t erase/replace from the song itself; the song would not be complete. Most of the guitar solos we love are just that. Too many to mention, but you know the ones that are a must.
When I write a solo, I want its energy to be consistent within the song that it originates from. It must be related. It depends on what is needed. Sometimes, it can be a short burst of notes, an effect, a melodic line or a big thematic bulldozer with many parts within.
Often I start playing (recording) my solos and I don’t really write them out. This is because I want the solo to bounce off the energy of the song. When I hear a nice part in the solo that I improvise, I usually break it down and work on it a bit. Anything that is catchy I want it to be super memorable. I also want my solos to be a good structured thought and I don’t want my licks to be disjointed and sound too punched in. It must be a listenable story in its own right.
Eddie Van Halen always said that the best solos are one takes. Well, we wish we were so lucky. But, hey, sometimes it happens.
Some players prefer to write stuff out in advance and it certainly can work as well. I heard Vito Bratta wrote out his solos in advance and Vito’s solos are so melodic and well structured that it would be immensly hard to improvise them on the spot.
Since we work in the digital age and you can go back and erase as many times as you want, I play some crazy stuff when I track solos. Some of the things I play miss the mark completely, but I await for that thing I would never play if I played it safe. I’m willing to play something 50 times just to get a few perfect notes. I have noticed some of the greatest artist take chances like that.
When it’s bad – you erase it. When it’s good – it’s like no one else. This is where you want to be to have super high end stuff. Nothing great comes without taking a chance. It is also important to know that writing great guitar solos gets better with practice. Anything you concentrate on and work on gets better. The more solos you write, the better and more professional they sound. Keep going.