Phrasing guitar solos, How do I do it?

  • by


What do I think about when I’m trying to create a melodic phrase on the guitar.? How do I know if my phrase is worth keeping?I’m going to give you a simple and easy explanation for phrasing on the guitar. Here is a step by step process for how to phrase or how to say what you feel on the guitar, how to make solos come alive. I want you to start thinking about how you learned to actually speak, from a child to adolescent to adult.

As very young children learned to speak words and then we put them in a certain order that, in the beginning, didn’t make a lot of sense and people couldn’t understand us. Then we learned more words and put them together so it made more sense. We now can create sentences, later maybe went to college and really started saying things that interested people, saying things that held their attention.

Phrasing on the guitar is the exact same process. We all start to learn lead guitar with a scale and usually it the Minor Pentatonic scale. A 5 note scale. Now you have 5 scale notes that are your words, these “words” or notes are made into musical sentences which then is put together to tell a story.

Just like learning to speak in the beginning we are limited with how we put the notes together and it doesn’t really sound great but over time we learn more ways to play the same 5 notes, the notes we first started with and it starts to sound like music. From here on it is a matter of learning more ways to play the notes, slides, hammers, pull’s, bend’s, and on and on.

Also, copying on guitar what others are “saying”, solos of your favorite players. This is a lifetime process that even the best of the best are always trying to improve and create new sounds with their guitar phrasing. My students can generally get this concept and start playing these musical sentences within 60 to 90 days of lessons on this and they usually come back and tell that someone that heard them play thought they had been playing for a few years.

Phrasing is one of the most important concepts to pursue on the guitar. It really separates a mediocre guitarist from a guitarist that you really want to listen to. Think of a singer and how they group their words into phrases. This is one of my favorite guitar skills to teach and I always learn new things myself. Many students think this is a mystery and only doable for the elite, not so. I wasn’t able to figure out how to do this on my own in the beginning and now as pro hear all the time they can really feel what I am playing. Just get started with about 4 notes in the Minor Pentatonic sca le and see how

many ways you can play them. This is a great beginning point. Get started and let me know how you’re making out. Just like talking, a few words or notes, take a breath, say some more and make it count!