3 Tips for How to Write Creative Guitar Solos

Welcome to another excerpt from to my brand new course, The Creative Guitarist: "How to Write More Expressive, Emotional, and Melodic Lead Guitar Solos."

In yesterday's blog post, I shared "An AMAZING Tool for Backing Tracks and Fretboard Visualization" that will help guitar players find free backing tracks to practice writing their creative solo ideas along with. If you haven't checked out that post, along with the companion video, please do so now.

With that out of the way, here's a little acronym for you. MLM.

One of the key things that I've noticed while analyzing hundreds of creative guitar solos over the years is that good solo players, good lead guitarists—those who have created memorable solos—all have three things in common.

They have melodies. They have licks. And they have moments.

MLM: Melodies, Licks, and Moments.

Read on to find out more.


Tip #1 for Writing Creative Guitar Solos: Melodies

What does that mean in the context of how to write creative guitar solos? If you think about John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Marco Sfogli—and many, many others—they like to start out with a melodic singing riff, or lick, or phrase they hear in their head. That takes the solo in a direction that, many times, will match the vocal melody a singer would normally sing.

If there isn't an actual vocalist, if it's just instrumental song, the melodies might take characteristics similar to a vocal line from the chords played over them. You'll often hear guitar players play some melodies. Then, when there's this big crescendo, they blaze through tons of fast shred licks, or there'll be a lick that has a certain signature sound to it.

One of the best references I use for expressive solos isn't even guitar. I encourage you not even look at guitar at first. Instead, consider classical instruments. Look at instruments other than guitars. Pianists, cellists, violinists—and particularly woodwind players.

Melodic Geniuses: Kenny G

In particular, one of my favorites soloists is the Grammy award-winning saxophonist Kenny G (seen above). I've been a fan for years. He plays some of the most melodic, most heart‑wrenching, emotional songs that you've probably every heard (maybe without even realizing it). "Sentimental" is one of my absolute favorite melodies of all time. Amazing song. "Forever in Love." That's the wedding song for most people.

Just take a listen to some of his award-winning songs in the web player below.

As I mentioned above, Kenny G has written tons of melodies that he's also won Grammys for. Rightfully so, because he's just an absolute genius when it comes to melodies.

The other great thing about woodwinds that you can benefit from when writing your own creative guitar solos is that any instrument that uses air to force notes out (other than accordions, pipe organs, bag pipes, et al.) means that the players have to stop and breathe at some point.

They're creating moments of space. More on this...in a moment.

Tip #2 for Writing Creative Guitar Solos: Licks

If the genre is Blues, there's typically no shredding or anything like that, but there'll be something you can definitely tell is a lick. It's not really a big part of the song; it's just something that shows off a little bit, sort of in the background at first.

Now, the showing off a little bit is good. You just don't want to have ripping guitar shred all the time, though, because that can get monotonous on the ear. and the attention span of your listener is short—very short these days—with everything being on demand and being able to stream music.

(The last I checked, I think the skip rate for Spotify is about seven seconds, if that, before the person skips to the next song. You've got to be engaging. You don't want to play the same monotonous types of things over and over. If you're super-shredding everything, it's not going to work. You'll lose your audience—and fast.)

Tip #3 for Writing Creative Guitar Solos: Moments

Using Your Breath to Write Creative Guitar Solos

We've started with melodies, licks, and now we have moments. At the end of Tip #1, we hinted at moments of space for the the instrumentalist to breathe. Not only can you take a breath in, but the song itself breathes.

Try this the next time you play guitar. Don't just sit there and play everything you can think of, firing endless flurries of notes just because you can. Instead, be totally aware of your breathing.

What does breathing have anything to do with writing creative guitar solos? The next time you sit down to play, really notice your breathing. Inhale, stop playing, exhale, play a little bit, stop playing again on the next inhale—even if it's in the middle of a phrase.

Doing this "inhale, stop, exhale, play" routine will teach you how to get your phrases together a little bit more creatively. For saxophone players, they have to pause, breathe, and then create tiny moments of notes. Start doing the same with your playing and you'll notice a HUGE difference in your phrasing.

How Joe Satriani Approaches Creative Guitar Solos and Songs

Take Joe Satriani, for example. He has a lot of moments, a lot of pauses and a lot of space in his playing. He'll play a note, stop, play another note (or an entire phrase), stop.

Your Secret Weapon for Writing Creative Guitar Solos: MLM: Melodies, Licks, and Moments.

Great solo players and great guitarists know to use melodies (something that resonates with the listener) to show off because fans who listen to instrumental solos appeal to that.

But remember: that doesn't necessarily mean you have to shred all the time. It doesn't necessarily mean play the fastest thing you know.

The show-off part for you could be playing an entire lick or a simple one-note bend that just lasts forever. (Eric Clapton is great for this.) The bent note hits that perfect pitch, and it creates an emotional firework in people's hearts and souls and resonates with them.

Then, great players know how to utilize moments where they stop playing and they let the music speak for itself.

Think of that. Keep it with you. MLM: Melodies, Licks, and Moments. This is exactly what I was thinking of when I began creating the main solo for my new course The Creative Guitarist.

For a free preview of the course, check out the modules below.

The Creative Guitarist Extras

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You'll also get access to an over 30,000–word course book curriculum that details everything in the course—and which is essential to the course itself.

The Creative Guitarist Facebook Community Screenshot

I'll also even give you access to my private Facebook Community just for The Creative Guitarist customers. (Don't worry about the number of members, more people will join as the course grows.)

So if you're interested in learning more great tips and insights about how become more creative in general and write creative guitar solos like your favorite guitar heroes, check out the official course page. The first several lessons are available for free preview.

Then, once you're ready to sign up, the checkout process is super easy. Or simply scroll down a little further to the "Buy Now" button below to purchase the course directly.

I'm very proud of this product, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it. Now, get ready to create some of the most emotional, expressive, and melodic lead guitar solos you've ever written.

I'll see you on the inside.

To read/watch the next video/blog in this series, "A First Look at The Main Guitar Solo in The Creative Guitarist Masterclass," click here.

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Maybe you can relate...

• Do you find yourself frustrated at watching other guitarists play seemingly effortless, emotional guitar solos while wishing you knew how to write your own? (I've felt this way, too.)
• Have you always wanted to play guitar solos in a more melodic, expressive, and creative way? (I can help with that.)
• Is the lack of knowing how to read music notation or learn music theory holding you back in your goals of writing compelling guitar solos? (No need for either in this course.)
• Have you always wanted to learn how to play the most effective notes in your own guitar solos but never understood where to begin? (I cover this and lots more in the course.)

If you’ve found yourself asking these or similar questions and feeling these thoughts and emotions, you’ve come to the right place.

In this Masterclass, "The Creative Guitarist," you'll get access to a wealth of resources that address the concerns and frustrations many guitarists around the world have expressed when trying to write and play their very own creative guitar solos.

Such resources include…

• A 30,000-WORD COURSEBOOK covering everything you need to know about how to write expressive, emotional, and melodic lead guitar solos...
• Brand new INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS that complement the course materials and which will show you the exact process of how I take a solo from inspiration to inspiring...
• Transcribed GUITAR TABLATURE of several of these full-length guitar solos in PDF, mp3, and Guitar Pro format...
• Access to a PRIVATE FACEBOOK COMMUNITY dedicated to giving you the support, accountability, and inspiration you need on your own journey to becoming a creative guitarist—both from myself and others who have already joined the community...
• All this and MORE!

So if you're interested in seeing what "The Creative Guitarist" has to offer, go ahead and start the course below. The first several lessons are free to preview.

If you're so stoked that you want to just purchase the course now, you can do so by clicking "Buy Now" below:
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