Melodic Solos and The Importance of Phrasing with Examples

Melodic Solos and The Importance of Phrasing with Examples

If you want better guitar solos that are melodic, you need to look at your phrasing.

The way you phrase your notes can go a long way towards making your solos sound better. Here are a few ways that you can go about this.


What is a Phrase?

A phrase is essentially a group of notes. We often refer to this as a guitar lick.

Phrases are separated by breaks in the music. Sometimes a phrase can be a large wall of notes, but this often means that the music is not as melodic as it could be.

Many guitar players are recognized by how they phrase their notes. For example, the great blues guitar player B.B. King is not known for his fast guitar playing. He is known for his excellent choice of notes in his blues playing.

Another example would be David Gilmour from Pink Floyd. He is known for his excellent ability to bend notes and create a lot of emotion with his solos. He has a unique ability to create excellent phrases that mean something when he plays.

Repetition

One way to create melodic guitar phrases is to take a short phrase and repeat it a few times. This creates interest with the ear.

You can then add another phrase after the repeated phrase, and you might want to repeat this as well and move it up and down the guitar neck. It often works well when you speed it up. You can take one guitar lick and play it fast as well as repeat it a few times to add interest to the solo.


Bending Notes

There is nothing more expressive or emotional with a guitar solo than a good bend. When you bend a note, the ear is instantly attracted to it.

An example of an emotional solo with great bending is the solo to Enter Sandman by Metallica.

The solo starts off with an aggressive bend, and it immediately adds passion to the solo.

Kirk Hammett then moves through a series of repeated licks as well as additional bends in the solo. This solo is quite fast in sections, but it has a lot of melody and passion for it. This is why it is one of Metallica's most well-known songs.

Another guitar player who was a master at bending notes is Stevie Ray Vaughan. He had an aggressive blues guitar playing style.

His solos were expressive and quite melodic because he put a lot of passion into his bends. He had a unique ability to phrase notes.


Vibrato

One of the hardest techniques to master on the guitar is vibrato. Every guitar player’s vibrato is different. This is a very expressive way of adding interest to a solo, and you can get a lot of emotion out of a note when you add vibrato. You can add this to your guitar phrases while you are playing, and they are immediately becoming more expressive.


Slides

Another way to spice up your phrasing is to add some slides. Instead of just playing a note, you can slide into a note.

You might slide into a note and then bend a note up or add vibrato to it. This then makes the note the more expressive and interesting, and you will have a better phrase.


Breathing Room

A lot of guitar players tend to cram a lot of notes into their solo, and they do not let the phrases breathe. It is important when you are playing a phrase to give a little bit of breathing space after you have played for a while.

This builds anticipation in the ear of the listener. They have no idea what you are going to do next. This is what separates some of the great guitar players from some of the ones that are just average. These musicians understand phrases and how important it is to take breaks between your playing because it adds so much interest to the solo. Do not be afraid to rest on a note or add extra vibrato to it before you move to the next phrase.


Call and Response

Another way to bring more melody to your solo is to use a call and respond technique. This is where you play a lick, and then you play the exact same lick in another position of the scale you are using.

You pick the same notes, but the lick sounds different at a new position. For example, you might play a lick in the open position E minor scale at the top of the fretboard and then play the same thing at the 12 fret.


Conclusion

How you phrase your notes is critical to sound more melodic. There are a ton of different techniques you can use, such as bend's, slides, vibrato, and having a look at the various licks you are using. All of this takes effort, but over time you will find that your solos can be more melodic.