How to Write a Guitar or Bass Solo

Here are some easy ways to write a solo. You may not come up with a good one on your first try, but keep working at it!

Steps

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    Learn the notes of the strings and frets. If you do not know how to do this, then you can just do it by ear, but it is easier if you know which fret is an A, and which one is a F-Sharp. To start of, know that the standard tuning is from high to low: E, A, D, G.
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    Learn the scale it is in by listing all of the notes that you play, getting rid of duplicates. If you come across A-Flat twice, list it in the scale. Only write notes in this scale unless you know what you are doing.
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    Determine the style of the solo. Should it be fast? Slow? Technical? Ask yourself as many question as you need to determine what you want. Write notes out that you determined in the scale. Try to follow an up, or down pattern for a few notes and then change it up. For example: A, B, C, B, D, A, C, A.
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    Learn how to read and write tablature so you can write your solo down.
    • Do this with a pencil (not a pen) and a piece of paper.
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    Pick a note (an A, for instance) and play it on every string. Work with every note like this for ten minutes.
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    Experiment with different arrangements. Now pick out which 10 of the notes stand out to you the most and play around with those in any order. Do this for ten minutes.
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    Experiment more and find what you like. Now pick the top 8 notes that stood out to you from those 10 notes. Take those notes and play around with them for at least 15 minutes.
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    Embrace the random. Hopefully now your mind and fingers will be used to the randomness. Take the notes and try to put them together like a puzzle. Spend 10 minutes on this.
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    Complete the picture. The "pictures" are on it. Now it's time to give those pictures some color. Understand hammer-ons, pull-offs, tremolo, tremolo picking, vibrato, and sliding.
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    Find out where the special tricks from the step above should go in the solo. Once you are done... Great! Now there is "paint" on the puzzle. But it needs to be more interesting. How about shades, tints, and blends!
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    Add effects if you desire. You have the choice of either getting a whammy bar or a whammy bar pedal. Either will change the pitch of the notes. The pitch can rise into the sky or fall down to the depths of the ocean.
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    Pressing down on the whammy bar lowers the pitch; pulling it up raises the pitch. A "dive bomb" effect occurs when you push the whammy bar down to where it touches the guitar. The opposite effect occurs when you pull the whammy bar up to where the handle is at a 75* angle. (It's already at a 50* angle.) Practice these effects. One simple effect you can use at the end of a song is to move the neck of the guitar/bass up and down. That makes a "wavy" sound. You don't need a whammy bar for this.
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    Iterate and then, reiterate. Now the puzzle is complete and very interesting. Maybe the "drawing" is a little misshapen; maybe the "paint" got a little out of the lines. So fix it.
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    Pick a few notes in the same scale. Form a short, four-to-five-note melody and repeat it over and over, experimenting by adding or subtracting notes. For example, if you start with the melody E B D E G E, you could expand it to E B D E G E D E D C A.
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    Now play the best solo anyone has ever heard.

Tips

  • The bass can use a whammy bar, too. You just have to buy a new saddle and bridge, but you can use the same whammy pedal.
  • The best solos are built around the chords of the song. Know what notes are in each of the chords that you are playing and use those notes to construct your solo.
  • Have fun with it.

Warnings

  • Don't think that solos are just a bunch of notes thrown together and played quickly. Some of the best solos are simple to play but are put together carefully so the notes go together really well.

Article Info

Categories: Songs and Song Writing