If there's one thing that seems to terrify most new guitarists, it's the idea of stepping out for that first guitar solo. But with a little time and a lot of practice you can shred with the best of them. Let's take a look at how to get started and get better.
1. The idea of improvising a lead guitar solo is simply putting together groups of notes and creating a melody that sounds good to you. Start with that idea and play a bunch of notes with no accompaniment. Just create melodies with no restrictions. Follow your ears to the notes you want to hear.
2. There's no such thing as a "bad" or "wrong" note. One of the great joys of music is that no one has ever been killed by a bad note. You'll play lots of them over the years. Do not fear mistakes. The longer you play and the more advanced melodic technique you learn, the more you'll find out that just about any note can work as long as you know how to get to it and out of it. And play it with conviction.
SUPER BIG "SAVE YOUR BUTT" TIP:
If you play a note that does not sound right to you, move one fret in either direction. Most of the time that will put you on a note that matches the chord better.
3. Pick a scale and hang out there for a while. Most guitarists start by learning a minor pentatonic scale. Work with that scale and get comfortable with it before running off to learn others. One of the biggest mistakes new guitarists make is trying to absorb too much information too fast.
4. Start with small, simple phrases. The picture in your head is of a guitarist playing a zillion notes per second. What's really happening is that he's linking together small phrases of 4-5 notes. Moving from one phrase to the next makes it sound much more complicated than it is. So start by creating little 3-5 note phrases from your chosen scale. Do not worry about linking them up until you're comfortable with a few different phrases.
5. Use ornamentation techniques. On guitar, that's things like bends, slides, rakes, hammer-ons, pull-offs, scoops, etc. These little tricks decorate your notes and give them some character. With each of them, bends in particular, make sure you practice the technique by itself until you can do it comfortably and accurately.
6. Think rhythm. A great solo is rarely about how many notes, or even WHICH notes you play. A listener is much more attuned to the rhythm of what you're playing than the note choice. Take some of those simple 3-5 note phrases from step 4 and try changing the rhythm around in as many ways as possible. A great way to force yourself to think of different rhythms is to play a whole solo with just one note. Come up with every rhythm you can think of at least 8 bars and only playing the one note.
If you can accomplish these 6 steps, you'll be well on your way to being a great lead guitarist. Have no fear. Make lots of mistakes. Enjoy the process.
Source by Phil Johnson