Photo by Kelly Sikkema

There’s way more to it than simply mastering chords and scales.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Beginner
Lesson Overview:
• Understand the importance of structure and space within guitar leads.
• Learn the power and importance of articulation and motivic development.
• Construct leads that take the listener on a journey. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Take a moment and think of your favorite guitar solo. Can you hear it in your head, note-for-note perfect as if you were listening to the track itself? I’m willing to bet the answer is yes. Indelible guitar solos tend to get lodged in your brain that way. Every practicing guitarist not only strives to play these solos as well as the guitar heroes who composed them, but we all long to craft such a brilliant lead ourselves. The million-dollar question is: Where do you begin when attempting to play the next great, iconic solo? The next “Stairway to Heaven” or “Kid Charlemagne” or “Hotel California”?

Structure
When it comes to creating an iconic guitar solo from scratch, structure is everything. Though the three classic solos named above are wildly different in tone, style, and nearly everything else, one thing they all have in common is a clear, concise structure. Structure can be dictated by a number of factors. For instance, the structure of your solo could be dictated by the form of the song itself. If the form in the accompaniment changes as your solo progresses, as it does in countless songs (including one of my all-time favorite solos, George Harrison’s lead on “Something”), the structure is pretty much laid out for you. It’s just a matter of letting the song take its course and following along.

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