Learning to play other people’s guitar solos is a great way to begin learning to write your own! Guitar teacher Nils B. shares his tips to learning four classic rock solos so you can develop your technique…
There are so many fun aspects to playing the guitar, but do you know what is easily one of the best parts of learning to play? Shredding on the best rock guitar solos of all time! There’s certainly something so liberating about mastering your favorite guitar solos and playing them just like the iconic guitarists of present and past.
If you’re looking to learn some of the best guitar songs and tricks, then start your journey here. In my guide below, I offer tips for practicing the guitar and seven guitar solo song recommendations for you to explore. Follow along and get ready to jam out like the pros!
Tips for Improving Your Guitar Solo Skills
If you want to expand your guitar skills, it’s important to go slow and steady. This way, you can really pick the stylistic nuances and make sure you master the rhythms. So before you go to town wailing on these epic rock numbers, take your time to actually learn the guitar solos first.
To start, begin closely listening to your favorite artists. After all, an essential part of every musician’s development is to imitate those who have already mastered their instrument. After settling on a song, give it a couple of close listens (preferably on headphones or a decent stereo), pick up a good transcription, then learn the rhythm parts, while analyzing the chord progressions and any distinctive rhythmical features.
Then start learning the solo, phrase by phrase, while determining the relationship of each note with the chord that’s being played, as well as the key of the song. Also try listening carefully to the guitar tones, and be conservative with the amount of gain or overdrive when trying to copy these. Among other drawbacks, too much overdrive tends to hide your mistakes.
Once you are able to play along with the original (or a backing track if you can find one), try recording yourself, and pay close attention to the details, such as timing, and bending accuracy. And as a final step, once you’re fairly comfortable, try to improvise using the same concepts, simply start by making small variations to the original solo. And of course, if you haven’t already, seek out an experienced instructor who can give you essential feedback about how to play guitar solos like these listed below and keep you from making fundamental mistakes.
Seven Guitar Solos You Should Study
Once you’ve followed our tips above, you’re ready to tackle some of these famous guitar solos below. Between “Stairway to Heaven” and “No More Tears,” you’ll be unstoppable after learning these seven legendary solos.
The Eagles – Hotel California
This is my personal favorite of the four. Since the progression doesn’t stay in the same key, you are forced to take a more chord based approach. And although there are still plenty of great B minor blues licks to be found, there is also a healthy dose of major pentatonics, played using fairly tricky compound bending techniques commonly used by country guitarists.
On top of this, the F#7 chord adds a darker flavor, which is nicely addressed in the solo with some harmonic minor licks. Last but not least, there’s the harmonized arpeggio outro, which is great to expand your fretboard knowledge, so be sure to learn both parts! In terms of guitar tone, it’s a pretty straightforward approach. Most guitars played into a somewhat overdriven amp will sound great.
Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven
Jimmy Page was heavily influenced by American blues and rock and roll guitarists, which can be heard in the many great blues licks demonstrated here. Be sure to pay close attention to the dynamic build up, his vibrato, and timing. Page was known for using Gibson Les Pauls, SG doublenecks, and Fender Telecasters into either big Marshall stacks or low wattage combo amplifiers, so any tube overdriven lead sound will do. Try to add some delay to help with the sustain.
Guns & Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
First off, it should be noted that this was originally recorded with the guitar tuned down a half step (Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb). Even though it is in the key of Eb minor technically, it feels like E because of the tuning.
This guitar solo actually consists of two shorter solos and a long outro. The slower, more melodic middle solos in Eb minor are a great opportunity to venture out of the familiar ‘box’ at the 12th fret, and explore the area around the 7th. The outro solo is a series of well executed pentatonic blues ideas via