Guitar Rock Improvisation Thoughts, Tricks, Concepts and Techniques, 8th Episode.

Guitar Rock Improvisation Thoughts, Tricks, Concepts and Techniques, 8th Episode.

Did you already see great improvements in your soloing in past 7 blogs?
I hope it is making a fantastic impact in your improvisations.
Here’s what we covered in past couple of months.

Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 1
Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 2
Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 3
Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 4
Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 5
Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 6
Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 7

On to the new topics for today.

Cool thing to do: jumping 12 fret distances back and forth

This is so simple, it makes you wonder why it is not used more.
Especially since it sounds so cool.

This works best with pentatonic shapes. It is probably really more a pentatonic soloing concept anyway.

Like I said: the idea is simple.
Let’s say that you’re in the key of A minor.
You play something in the root position Am pentatonic shape on the 5th fret, then quickly jump up an octave to the 17th fret to play exactly the same thing.

This doesn’t work as well with long phrases.
Keep it short, and jump around 12 fret distances.
You’ll love how this sounds.

Avoid playing too many phrases in a row in the bass range.

This is usually done by students who feel insecure about their fingerings.
So I guess this might be more of a piece of advice for students who are getting into soloing, and who don’t have their scale shapes well memorized yet.

The human ear is not as sensitive to lower frequencies.
The result of that, is that it takes our brains more effort to hear/identify/grasp melodies played in a low range.
Staying in that range for too many phrases in a row, shuts off the listener’s attention span pretty quickly.

Move around a lot. Spend more time on the treble strings in your solos.

Being more melodic, means… lesser 2-note phrases.

My guess is, that this too is probably more common with guitar students who are still struggling with their scale, fingering and fretboard knowledge.
You don’t want to play too many 2-note phrases in a row.

2-note phrases are cool.
Too many of them in a row, makes the solo lack direction.

Using the analogy that playing a solo is communication, imagine being in a conversation with someone who speaks in 2-3 word sentences. 🙂

“Hey Mike! What’s up? It’s warm. Right?”

You need more words in a sentence to really say something of value.
The ideal, most phrases in most solos tend to be centered around…

3-4 note phrases

This is of course not set in stone.
Music is an art form, not a science.

It’s totally fine to have longer lines.
As we already discussed in for example string skip soloing: sometimes you want to have long lines with lots of notes to create certain sounds and textures.
It’s also totally fine to have 2-note phrases, as discussed above.

There are many different types of soloing.
In shredding for example, the scalar aspect of this particular soloing style means that the lines are going to be longer.
You can’t really play neo-classical shred metal with 4 note phrases. 🙂

Focusing on 3-4 note phrases however, is going to bring out different sides to your soloing, and is going to create different types of melody lines.


Vibrato makes your notes come to life. You want a vibrant sound, not a sound that flat lines.
Vibrato is the effect, created by “gently” rubbing your string up and down, moving your fretting finger in a vertical motion.

The 2 main rules of a good vibrato:

  1. Gently “rub” the string up and down: don’t “shake it” or “quiver it”.
  2. Slow down? A good vibrato blends in with the tempo and feel of the song.
    A good way to go about this: move your fretting finger up and down in quarter or 8th notes. (16th notes possible if the song is at a slow tempo).

In rock styles or on electric guitar, the more common technique is to gently move the string up and down (vertical).
Classical string players use an entirely different technique. They move their fretting finger sideways (horizontally) on the string.
The sideways horizontal vibrato doesn’t come out as well on electric guitar.

On an interesting side note: jazz guitarists in general tend to use less or no vibrato in their solos.


That’s it for today.
More new soloing insights and ideas coming up next week.

Keep me informed on your progress. You can hit me up in the comments section below.
If you like this blog: give it a rating and feel free to also give me any feedback.
I believe everything can always be improved. I’d gladly implement your suggestions and ideas in this blog or the next.

Be on the look out for more blogs about everything guitar, music, songwriting and music education.

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