One of the coolest things about playing guitar is being able to lay down a monster guitar solo and once you have achieved it, there are few more satisfying things in the world of guitar. Whether you are trying to pay something by Dragonforce, Eddie van Halen’s iconic Beat It solo or a crunching Kirk Hammet arpeggio, you are going to need to work extremely hard.
We had a chat with Tom Hess guitar virtuoso and solo specialist to find out how us mere mortals can learn how to play the solos of our heroes, let’s take a look at who Tom is, and how you can master that solo.
About The Man
Tom has been playing guitar for over 30 years and during that time he has toured with some of the biggest names in metal and has been a member of the bands Rhapsody of Fire and HolyHell, as well as putting his own solo album out. Not content with just being a master axeman, Tom has also invested much time in learning about the theory of music and has 2 music degrees to his name. Whilst Tom still plays, he dedicates much of his time to teaching others through his online course.
One of the biggest keys to playing a guitar solo is to improve the dexterity of all of your fingers. Many of us fall into the trap of only using 3 fingers to play guitar with but you will need to use all four for some of the more impressive solos. In order to improve dexterity you should be practicing your blues scales a great deal and even something simple like going 1,2,3,4 from top string to bottom, can improve your speed and dexterity. When practicing this, use an acoustic guitar which is much harder, but it will make it far easier when you pick up the electric.
The key to the best solos is not just the notes that are played, but the bends, slides, vibratos and tapping skills which set a solo apart. Make sure that before you start learning the solo, that you practice how to do all of these techniques as it will pay off once the time comes to start learning the solo itself.
Tablature and Practice
Finally it is time to start getting the tablature and practicing that solo until you are blue in the face. The tablature will lay it out pretty easily in terms of how you will play the solo and it will tell you when to add little touches such as bends etc. The key to mastering a solo is to break it down into small pieces and practice each on until you get it right, then move on to the next part. Once you have finally mastered the solo, play around with different sounds and effects on your guitar until you get the sound just right.