Guitar Rock Improvisation Thoughts, Tricks, Concepts and Techniques, 9th Episode.

Guitar Rock Improvisation Thoughts, Tricks, Concepts and Techniques, 9th Episode.

As always, let me list the all the previous installments of this series first, in case you would like to go back to topics discussed in previous weeks.

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
Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 8

Here we go…

Octave lines

You don’t have to be Wes Montgomery or a jazz guy to solo with octave lines. šŸ™‚

If you’re wondering how octaves sound like: Jimi Hendrix plays the main melody (starting at 1:00) in “Third Stone From The Sun” in octaves.

Doubling your melodies in octaves makes them sound bigger and fuller.

Practice octaves and make them part of your style.
The more different sources you have available to draw from:

  1. The more you set apart from the pack of guitar players who know less than you do.
  2. The richer your solos are going to sound
  3. The more freedom you’ll have as an improviser
  4. The more fun playing guitar solos becomes.

Add octaves to your bag of soloing tools.
Here’s how they look like btw.


Alternate pick

This is more of a guitar technique consideration, directed towards guitar students who need work on their technique or who only use downstrokes.

It pays off to use alternate picking. You want to avoid only using downstrokes.
Alternate picking, refers to the technique where you pick consecutive notes in opposite directions, alternating down up down up and so on.

The reason why you want to incorporate this technique in your playing, is that it’s hard to play faster lines only doing downstrokes.
Your arm would fall off. šŸ™‚

There’s other techniques like sweep picking, economy picking.
Alternate picking is the most used picking style.

One more last thing about alternate picking: Downstrokes by nature always sound a little fuller and heavier, upstrokes always sound a little lighter and thinner.
Alternating down-ups thus creates a certain flow where every note has its own distinctive character from the previous and the next note.
The technique makes the individual notes in a solo stand out more.

Tapping 1: tapping the occasional note in a phrase

“Tapping” refers to the technique, where you use fingers of your picking hand to sound notes on the fretboard.
You do so by “hammering” fingertips of your picking hand, onto the strings.
Tapping in other words: is like hammer-ons with your non-fretting hand.

When guitar players think of tapping, they usually immediately think of Eddie Van Halen.
Eddie didn’t invent the technique (he also never claimed that he did), but he made it a distinct part of his soloing style.

You can hear tapping in the solos of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Greg Howe, Randy Rhoads, and many more.

When a guitarist uses tapping, he usually does so in extended tapping solo sections.
But there is another way you can use tapping, which is what we will be covering here.

You could incorporate tapping as a technique to enrich phrasing, where you only tap 1 or 2 notes in a phrase where the rest of the notes are picked.
An example of this would be Steve Vai’s “The Attitude Song”, where he taps 1 bend note at 18 seconds into the song.

This also allows you to add notes in your phrase that are out of reach.
The video below will show you some ideas on how to use this.

Tapping 2: having full fledged tapping sections in a solo

This is different from the above topic.
Here you basically create an entire solo or solo section using tapping only.

This kind of tapping is combined with hammer ons and pull offs in the fretting hand.

Joe Satriani “Satch Boogie” at 1:48
Steve Vai’s “Greasy Kid’s Stuff” at 2:11
Greg Howe’s “Jump Start” at 42secs,

Notable guitarist you want to check out if you are into tapping:

Eddie Van Halen
Jennifer Batten
Steve Lynch
Guthrie Govan.

This is showcased in the video below.

Finger picking your solo

Fingerpicking a guitar solo, creates a very distinct, different kind of sound and phrasing.
Notable guitarists who fingerpick everything, including their solos: Jeff Beck and Richie Kotzen.

Using your fingers, you can create textures and sounds you can’t normally create with a pick.
If you grab slightly underneath the string, and pull hard, you create this “snap” you can only create with fingers.
Fingerpicking double stops or chords, creates a more direct attack than is possible with a pick, because you can pick all 3 notes at exactly the same time.

It takes some getting used to, figuring out which finger to use on which string.
Most guitar players who improvise finger style, tend to use thumb and index foremost, with the occasional middle finger.

Through experimentation you will figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.

Hybrid picking

Hybrid picking is the technique where you use pick and fingers.

This technique is used by a wide range of guitarists, all the way from Tommy Emmanuel, Brett Garsed (who uses it heavily as a means to play fast and intervallic), to Buckethead, Roy Buchanan and even Jimi Hendrix.
You can hear Jimi hybrid pick the fast 6hts in “Burning Of The Midnight Lamp” at 3:20
Hybrid picking is also heavily used in all country guitar.

This technique makes it possible for guitar players who use a pick, to perform music that would normally require fingerstyle playing.
Hybrid picking also facilitates playing more intervallic lines at high speed.

Check out “Mary Had A Little Lamb” (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Texas Flood album) at 1:23, for a bluesy, harmonic approach to hybrid picking.
Intro to “Cliffs Of Dover” (Eric Johnson), where Eric uses the technique to smoothly play fast lines.
Intro to “Jump Start” (Greg Howe). Greg here uses the technique to play a melody so intervallic, that it would be really hard to play with just a pick at this speed.


And this concludes this 9th installment.
We covered a lot of ground again today. Have fun experimenting with all the above.
Hit me up if you have any questions about anything.

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 improve. 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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