Melodic Solos: What Does it Mean to Play with Feeling?

Melodic Solos: What Does it Mean to Play with Feeling?

You may have heard the term emotional guitar playing. 

A lot of people do not understand what this means. If you want to create a solo that is more melodic, you have to tap into your emotions. Some of the best guitar players in the world are able to convey feelings when they play. This is why these artists are so popular. 


Play How You Feel Inside

When you play a guitar solo, tap into your emotions inside of yourself. When you do this, it comes out in the music. You should feel something when you are playing the notes. Listen to the song and the progression and then try to establish a certain feeling while you were playing. Here is how you go about doing this:


  • Does the music make you feel happy?
  • Does the music make you feel sad?
  • Does the music make you feel angry?
  • Does the music bring back memories of the past?
  • Does the music make you feel like you want to dance?


Once you can establish a feeling for the progression, then you can work on creating a solo that conveys the emotion you are feeling. I often close my eyes and listen to the progression of a few times. Once I do this, I keep my eyes closed and start playing. It does not matter what I am playing. I am trying to connect with the emotions inside of myself and bring those out in my music. Sometimes, I can literally feel shivers up and down my spine. There have been times when I have had tears in my eyes because the music is making me feel that emotion.


Emotional Guitar Solos

I want to give you a few examples of my favorite emotional guitar solos and why they are emotional.


Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin

The solo from Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin is one of my all-time favorite solos. 

While it is not that complex, the notes that Jimmy Page uses, the bends he plays, and how he conveys emotion in that song are what make it so good. The solo fits the song perfectly and is the highlight for me of the entire piece. It makes me want to get up and dance. It is the perfect example of how you take your emotions and put them into your music. The solo is expressive and full of life, and I could not think of a better solo to play over that song.

Eruption - Van Halen

One of the masters of the hard rock and heavy metal genre is Eddie Van Halen. 

I can remember the first time that I heard Eruption from the first Van Halen album. This song is a complete masterpiece. In fact, you really cannot call it a song as it is one guitar solo. This piece is full of incredible guitar techniques such as bending, hammer-ons pull-off, fretboard tapping, and whammy bar tricks. It is also played at a warp speed. While the solo is played quite fast, it is also very expressive and conveys a lot of emotion. This is why today, it is still considered one of the best hard rock solos of all time.


Lenny - Stevie Ray Vaughan

Lenny is blues instrumental by the great Stevie Ray Vaughan. 

This song is one of the most emotional blues and jazz-based songs I have ever heard. He puts a ton of emotion into this piece. It is full of excellent bending, slow licks, fast licks, excellent vibrato, and use of the whammy bar. He uses a full bag of tricks during this piece. It has slow and expressive sections as well as faster sections. If you have ever watched Stevie Ray Vaughan play this song, you can see the emotion pouring out of him while he plays it.


Purple Rain - Prince

The song Purple Rain by Prince is one of his masterpieces. 

Whenever I hear this song, I immediately feel better no matter how I feel at the time. There is a ton of emotion in this music, especially at the end. 

Prince rips into an incredible solo that caps off the song he has been playing. He is putting everything that he has into the music, and this is why it is such a good song. At the end of this song, Prince has nothing left as all of his emotions have come out in the music.


Close Your Eyes and Play

Try to tap into your emotions by closing your eyes. 

I mentioned this earlier, but it can really help you. Your fingers probably already know the scale positions. 

If you aren’t comfortable doing this, just do it with a few notes from the pentatonic scale. Start small and slow

Let your fingers and your emotions inside of you guide you as you play. Do not think about the techniques that you are going to use. 

Focus on the music and the notes. Let that emotion that is inside of you out in the music. Once you do this, your solos will no longer sound like a bunch of scales being played up and down the guitar neck.

You should also listen to the progression. 

I would listen to it multiple times before you even begin thinking about creating a guitar solo. 

Get the beat in the music down in your head. 

Listen to how the drums sound, the bass that is being played, and so on. Once you get that music inside of your head, try to create a solo over it.



Emotional guitar playing means putting all of your emotions into the music. 

This will help you create more melodic solos. Fuel tap into your innermost feelings, and when you do this, it comes out in the music, and people will feel exactly how you feel while playing the music.