Rock Guitar Solo Tricks, Concepts & Techniques, 5th Ep.

Guitar Rock Improvisation Thoughts, Tricks, Concepts and Techniques, 5th Episode.

Hope you’ve been having fun exploring the many guitar improv ideas from previous 4 blogs.
You can find them all here:

Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 1
Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 2
Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 3
Rock Guitar Soloing Episode 4

Let’s get started with our next topics.

Pedal point

This term comes from 16th-century baroque organ music.
The organist plays bass notes pressing down pedals with his feet, then plays chords and melodies with his hands over the bass note.

Here’s how this works in guitar soloing:

You play a note, for example, A…
then play another note, for example C
Then you play the previous note again: A
Then you play another note: for example D
Then the previous note again: A
Then another one: G
Then the previous note again: A
Then another note: for example F

Notice how 1 note keeps repeating, alternating with different notes of the scale-forming melodies between the note repetitions.

This is a fantastic way to create forward momentum in a solo.
Pedal point phrases always make for strong melody lines, and they always create a sense of direction in a solo.

You can hear pedal points in the solos of all the top players: Steve Morse, Guthrie Govan, Yngwie Malmsteen, Pat Metheny, etc.
Check out the video below to hear this concept.

Palm mute lines

This is an effect you get when resting your hand partially on the bridge and partially on the string.
It’s like the damper pedal on a piano.

Yet another technique to create different sounds and textures, making solos more expressive.

Open string fun

Sometimes it seems like guitar students overlook the fact that the open strings are valid notes too.
Taking advantage of the open strings leads to a new world of phrases that opens up.


YYZ (Rush) at 2:29, at 2:42, at 2:47
I Don’t Know (Randy Rhoads, Ozzy Osbourne, Tribute album) at 4:15
Testify (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Texas Flood album) at 2:04, at 2:32
Runaway Boys (Stray Cats) at 1:26 (start of solo)
Ain’t Talking About Love (Van Halen) at 1:22
Eugene’s Trick Bag (Steve Vai, Crossroads movie) at 0:35 till the descending diminished line.

If you’re in a key that allows it, add open string phrases to your solo.
Why would you forget to apply something that sounds so cool? 🙂

Chromatic passing notes

“Chromatic” means: moving by half step (fret).
“Passing note” means a note in between 2 scale notes.
For example: in the key of C, playing the notes D D# E, D# is a passing note.

In an A minor pentatonic scale (A C D E G), let’s say the root position shape on the 5th fret, you would play (from bass string to treble):

A A# B C (A# and B are passing notes)
D D# E
G G# A
C C# D
E F F# G (F and F# are passing notes)
A A# B C (A# and B are passing notes)

If you never used chromaticism, you miss out on a great tool to create strong forward motion in a solo.
On the other hand: if you overuse chromaticism, it can possibly sound tedious after a while.

Chromatic approach notes

Chromatic approach notes, are notes a 1/2 step above or below scale notes, from which you approach the scale note
The idea is that you deliberately approach the “right note” (in other words: “the scale note) from a half step below or above.
As an example, when you play the A minor pentatonic scale (A C D E G ) with 1/2 step below approach notes, you would play

G# going into A
B going into C
C# to D
D# to E
F# to G

Not an improv concept you hear in rock guitar solos often.
You can occasionally hear this in Gypsy jazz solos.

This soloing concept leads to really cool, interesting phrases.
Check the video below to hear this in action.

Chromatic passing double stops

This is the same as “chromatic passing notes”, but with double stops.
The double stops are usually 4ths.

Chromatic approach double stops

This is the same as “chromatic approach notes”, but with double stops.
The double stops are usually 4ths.


Not sure if you already knew about the above concepts or if you already applied these in your guitar solos before.
If not: then you just learned a wealth of new information that is going to raise the bar in your soloing.

Happy practicing!

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