5 ways to supercharge your guitar solos

John Frusciante
(Image credit: Robert Knight Archive/Redferns)

Guitar skills: Make your guitar solos shine with these five different approaches. We'll start with some scale basics then think outside of the boxes with our creative tips, tricks and lessons.

1. Learn pentatonics across the fretboard

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)

Many guitarists get a bit hazy when venturing outside the minor pentatonic scale. Take your soloing to the next level by learning these five shapes. They’re all the same scale but each shape starts on a different note. You’ll be racing around the whole fretboard in no time.

2. Target chord tones for slicker melodies

(Image credit: Future)

This blues idea is played over Am7 and Dm7. In theory, the A minor pentatonic scale is fine over both chords, but spell out the change by playing a different scale for each chord. Use A minor pentatonic over Am7 and D minor pentatonic over Dm7.

3. Sync your picking to the music

(Image credit: Future)

This is both a timing tip and a way to streamline your soloing and riffing. Using ‘down up’ style alternate picking helps you to sync your playing to the rhythm of the music. Think of it a bit like strumming, but with single notes. Just make sure to play downstrokes on the main musical pulse and the ups should fall naturally into place.

4. Play rhythmically

(Image credit: Future)

One of the most important factors for creating cool solos is to think rhythmically before adding notes. This John Frusciante-style lick uses lots of funky 16th note syncopation in bar 1 before switching to a triplet feel in bar 2. Practise the lick on a one-note rhythm, getting comfortable with the feel before introducing the notes.

5. Build speed with legato

(Image credit: Future)

Training your fretting fingers to play fluent hammer-ons and pull-offs is a great way to build swift, slick leads. For this Joe Satriani-style lick, hammer on with your first, third and fourth fingers for the first six notes; pull off with your fourth, second and first fingers on the next six notes. Practise slowly and focus on accuracy and clean finger tone.

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