It would be fair to say learning how to improvise on the guitar is akin to learning a new language. First, you learn the “words,” or individual notes. Then, you can start to form sentences, which, on the guitar, we call licks. Finally, you’re ready to connect your sentences and articulate full thoughts, or play full solos. The difficult part, for most, is that last step; it can be tricky improvising if you are not familiar with the “language” of soloing first.
In his Hard Rock issue of Solo Factory, Angus Clark shows you an effective method for familiarizing yourself with the vocabulary you’ll need to improvise hard rock solos like a pro.
Here are 9 free hard rock soloing guitar lessons from the course. For the full course, check out Angus Clark’s Solo Factory: Hard Rock on TrueFire!
Soloing Guitar Lesson – Symphonic Half Steps
This is an example of how a simple diatonic chord progression offers you plenty of information to help you be melodic. If you simply anchor all of your downbeats to chord tones, you can just connect the dots, and blam-o! You’ve got a melody. Easy peasy.
Soloing Guitar Lesson – Accelerating Ascent
In this example, we’re building in two ways at the same time. Rhythmically. we’re moving from slower to faster by using subdivisions. Melodically, we’re moving ever upwards in order to shift registers.
This is in G minor, and provides you a great opportunity to explore the neck.
Soloing Guitar Lesson – Repeaters
I’ll admit to overusing repeater licks. Let’s just say I’ve had a lot of bad influences, like Michael Schenker and Gary Moore. And if that’s being bad, then I don’t want to be good!
Soloing Guitar Lesson – More Sixteenths
Here’s another sixteenth-note lick that uses hammers, pulls, position shifts and so in order to add energy to a fairly simple climb from the starting note to the finishing note. The key lessons here involve the feel, hand synchronization, and position shifting.
Soloing Guitar Lesson – Power Ballad Track Analysis
This is in D major, so let’s talk about a couple of different approaches to soloing over this type of progression.
Soloing Guitar Lesson – Power Ballad Solo 1 Performance
This is the solo I played on a solo album for DD Verni of Overkill. I wanted to be sure and get some over the top stuff in there while keeping the solo generally upbeat and in the vibe with the power-ballad-y nature of the song.
Soloing Guitar Lesson – Power Ballad Solo 1 Breakdown
The opening of this solo is a combination of three builder licks taking us all the way from the low G to the high D on the guitar. That’s three and a half octaves! From there, we hit the Lukather “Rosanna” lick, followed by a Clapton style money lick. This solo is getting expensive!!
For the turnaround into the second chorus, I pull out the sweeps, so there’s a bit of flash before making a big melodic statement with a descending diatonic line. Cap it all off with a bit of bluesiness and you’re done!
Soloing Guitar Lesson – Power Ballad Solo 2 Performance
This second solo has less flash and more feel than the first one, but is equally effective.
Soloing Guitar Lesson – Power Ballad Solo 2 Breakdown
This take on the solo starts with more of the noisemaker approach from “The Unforgiven”. This gives way to a more melodic noisemaker where we’re using a ringing pedal tone over diatonic material. From that point forward, it’s all about digging in to as much blues as the chord progression will allow, so we have to call upon the Neal Schon playbook to get us what we want. Remember to tweak that third major almost always!
Digging these free hard rock soloing guitar lessons? Check out Angus Clark’s Solo Factory: Hard Rock.