4 Steps to Structuring a Guitar Solo

structuring soloSitting in front of a metronome and practicing your soloing technique is a lot different than building a solo. For starters, a metronome doesn’t have a key.

Thus, if you play along to a metronome, unlike with a song, it doesn’t matter what notes you choose because they will be compatible with a nonexistent backing track.

Also, if you are playing along to a metronome, you aren’t learning how to play along to a song; you are learning to play along to a steady beep, which won’t help you to develop feelings in your playing.

In this article, we will give you a step by step guide on how to structure a guitar solo so that you can best fit each song.

Step One: Listen

You need to listen to a song at least once or twice before you can solo over it.


Well, you wouldn’t drive 100mph down a road you’ve never been on before, would you? If you said no (and hopefully you did), then you should know that diving headfirst into something you aren’t even remotely familiar with yet and going to the extreme, in this case just soloing away, is a disaster waiting to happen.

If you want to write a good solo, you need to listen first and get a feel for the riffs you will be playing over; what are their characteristics? What techniques are being employed? Where should I use idea A and where should I use idea B?

Ask these things first; once you have the answers, you’re ready for step two.

Step Two: Start Slow

This may sound crazy, but it is best to get a melody out first.

Knowing a simple melody can make it easier to build up your solo. Even a linear melody, one that is barebones and just the skeletal frame of a solo, can give you grounds upon which to build a great solo. If you build the foundation first, the rest will be strong.

Step Three: Calm Down

Yes, calm down.

Don’t feel the need to rush, and don’t feel the need to put every technique you have ever learned into your one solo. This is an important thing for a lot of reasons, but mostly because of the fact that giving away your bag of tricks right at the start leaves absolutely nothing to be desired later on for other songs. If you want to keep listeners interested, you will have to learn how to ration your bag.

Step Four: Practice

You must get tired of hearing that word, huh?

Well, we’re tired of having to say it.

You should already have a practice schedule set up. If you don’t, you aren’t going to be making the improvements that you desire. Unless of course, you don’t desire any improvement, and in that case, you don’t even have to practice.

Practice makes perfect, and in order to write the best solo possible, you will have to practice writing solos. Try different things; don’t be afraid. Have fun with it, and good luck!

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