Guitar Tutorial: Working Out Guitar Solos and the Fretboard–a Guide to What to Do–

Guitarsolos and where to play them on the fretboard, do you have this often? Work out a guitar solo, or riff, and all seem to be fine apart from a few notes or sounds. Why are those notes not right? Where will they be played? What the heck is going on? If you ever had any of those situations keep on reading because this article may help you.

You can work out of your favourite guitarsolos by ear (by far still the best method….!!) or use any tabs you can find (check them !!) or books. Check the sound of your solos against the original. Are you getting all the right notes and sounds, sounds such as bends, artificial harmonics or whatever? Keep thinking about what is going on in the solo: What key is the song in?, what are the chords behind the solo?, play those chords, get familiar with the rhythm of the chords and song as it will all help you to play the actual solo with a better feel, you will also play more convincing because you are on top of your game.

                     Notes and Fretboard Positons:

The guitar is this wonderful instrument which gives you the same note in various places. Often this is a blessing but sometimes it can be a pain as well. When it comes to working out solos it is this fact which sometimes puzzles you: Where the heck did they play this solo and why? Sometimes you hear the sound of bends within some fast runs, most of the notes may be played in lower postions but the bends may be higher up the fretboard. Certain notes will sound better in particular places, even though you may play the same notes but they may not sound similar.

Do not worry so much about equipment, you can work out your solos on an unamplified electric guitar, and once you have found the right position you will get the same sound, even though you do not not that million dollar set-up your favourite artist uses. It is just about the notes and the right position, the gear will only put the icing on the cake.


You do not need to detune you guitar to get the same sound of a detuned solo, it may help to detune in the beginning to familiarise yourself with what is going on. Once you know what is the score you will be able to play the same solo on a standard tuned guitar. Detuning is great and may help you achieve a darker sound, but if you use standard tuning most of the time you may want to keep your tuning as it is.
Most bands who use detuned sounds will play a whole set of songs in that tuning, which is fantastic, but if you play in a coverband you may only play a handful of songs which are detuned in Eb, so you might as well keep your guitar in standard tuning and play everything a fret down. Keep thinking what is going on. Most of what I mentioned before applies to guitarplayers who detune all their strings a half, or whole step down. I am not talking about dropped D, or C or whatever tuning as that is far simpler: Just detune one string while rest stays the same. Easier to detune one string on a set instead of all six! Just see what is practical for you, but do not copy the detuned idea simply because that is what is going on in that particular song.

               Corrections and Alterations:

Learn a solo a well as you can and get it smooth. Once you can play the whole solo check the fingering and the postions. Does the solos jump up and down a lot on the fretboard? Could you play the solo in one position instead of moving up and down? Often solos are about sound and convenience: Fingering should be staightforward, if not check position!!

              Stylistic Features:

If you have a look at several solos of the same artist changes are you will see particular techniques and sounds being used which come back often. Get to know how your favourite artist plays, what kind of techniques he/she uses and get familiar with how to use these techniques for yourself. Try to hear what is going on: Often you can tell where a solo is being played by just listening to the recording, you can hear all the bends, string tapping ect. just listen to the solo carefully before you  start to play the solo yourself, as you listen ask yourself questions about position and techniques being used.


Once you can play a solo correctly, know what is going on keywise etc. why not play the solo in your own style. Use similar notes and phrasing but now with your own feel and techniques, let go of the stylistic features of the given artist and play the solo your own way without loosing the integrity of the notes and the overal idea behind the solo.
A solos is more than just a variation in the song: Some solos will restate the vocal melody while others are small compositions on their own. Listen to a lot of solos by various artists of different styles to get a good idea of what is possible.

For next article a few fingering variations of Slash’s  intro of “Sweet Child of Mine”

Enjoy and hope to catch you soon again for more updates.