Have you ever listened to a guitar solo, and it sounded like a guitar exercise?
A lot of solos tend to sound like that because the player is concentrating more on the scale and not on making music. While solos often run through scales, you will not sound very melodic if this is all that you do.
Here is how to create a melodic solo by not only concentrating on the scale.
When you build a solo, the notes you are using are important.
You have to consider the key that you're in. A lot of players will use the scales that correspond to the key, but they just run the scale up and down, and they do not concentrate on the root notes of the chords that are being played in the progression.
You will sound more melodic if you concentrate on those root notes that are being played in the progression.
For example, if you're playing in A minor pentatonic, your root note is A.
Here’s a backing track in A minor if you want to try this now:
Many of your guitar licks have to include this A note because this is the root note of the A minor pentatonic scale. If you are only running the A minor pentatonic scale up and down and not stopping on that a note every so often, the solo you create doesn't make much sense.
All the notes of A minor pentatonic will sound great, but there won't be a lot of melodies because you're only running notes back and forth.
Instead of creating a wall of notes, try creating some slower phrases and add in longer notes. Solos also often sound a lot better if you begin the solo with some expressive bends.
You can add more interest to the listener before you launch into your high-powered guitar techniques and fast runs. If your solo is just a series of runs through the scale, it will tend to sound quite boring, and it will lack the melody that the listener is looking for.
You need to break up those faster runs with something besides another fast run.
For example, you could add a bit of whammy bar into your solo. You could play a couple of chords. You might take note and hold it for a long duration and add vibrato to it.
If you constantly play a wall of notes, making the solo sound like a scale, it won't sound like a great solo.
Think of your favourite guitar solos and how they make you feel. This is one of the keys to getting an excellent solo that doesn't sound like a scale.
You want to create emotion in your playing. This is why players such as David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, and others are still popular today. Their soloing and playing in general, is emotional. These artists have the unique ability to make you feel something when they play.
For example, let's take the Star-Spangled Banner solo that Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock. This is one of the most incredible solos I have ever heard in my life. He took that simple song and made it very expressive and emotional during Woodstock. He turned it into something unique.
Don’t Use Everything at Once
When you use all of your guitar techniques at once and create a blindingly fast solo without any breaks or anything that adds interest, the solo becomes quite boring.
A lot of guitar players will use every technique they know at the beginning of the solo and then those same techniques throughout the rest of the solo.
This does nothing for the listener because you have already used all of your flashy techniques, and the rest of the solo is meaningless.
Think Before You Play
Think about what you want to play. You should play a solo that makes sense with the music. Not everything has to be as fast as possible.
Fast solos naturally have their place, but they are better when you break them up and slow down sections before you launch into the faster passages. Play a solo that fits the song.
Try to get away from just playing the scale when creating a solo. You need to be as expressive as possible.
Running the scale concerned fine for a while, but if you do it all the time, the ear will get tired, and it ends up being boring for the listener.
Employ the techniques above, and your solos will be interesting and not just sound like a scale.