The hardest part of writing lyrics is getting the first line. And it’s just as difficult to write the start of your guitar solo. You could continue sitting, looking up at the ceiling for inspiration, or you could use a cheat sheet to guide you to nail the start of every guitar solo you write. Here are five surefire ways to start a guitar solo you can refer to every time you sit down to write your guitar solo.
Start with the basics
The first note of your guitar solo should always have something to build on. You don’t want to start your solo that does not allow your audience to connect with it. Reserve descending notes or “out” notes for the rest of the song.
These styles make starts rather abrupt and do not give enough time for the audience to shift from the vocals to the guitar solo itself. Avoiding descending notes can also be helpful if you have a short solo at the start of the song.
Experiment with ascending notes and only pursue another format if you know it sounds good and connects with your audience. You can use a 4 note loop to set as a backdrop for your solo. If you want a greater challenge, you could increase the number of notes. Avoid going overboard as you still want to keep it simple. Making an intricate loop will just distract your audience from the main piece.
Bending is an extremely popular method of making the transition from vocals to a guitar solo and it creates room for anticipation. You can use this anticipation by building a guitar solo that gradually gets more complex and intricate.
There are two ways you can try to begin bending notes – half bend and full bend. Both of these styles work in their own ways, so avoid mixing them together. If you’ve heard Concrete Jungle, you would be well aware of the double note climb at the start of the song.
If you don’t have enough experience, you can opt for a shorter bend. Or you could try a longer one, which will come with practice like the one from Concrete Jungle.
For a shorter version, you could refer to songs like Stairway to Heaven or even Gravity. These bends last for a much shorter period of time and are quickly replaced with scale notes. If you find your solo to be rather redundant at the start, you could use this method to break the redundancy by adding a unique element at the start.
Pick the right key
If you’re out of key, your audience will have difficulty staying connected to the song. While it seems amazing to make it intricate and unconventional, starting out on the wrong key just makes the entire solo unpleasant and will only confuse your audience. Instead, you can focus on starting on the key you picked for your backing track and start right from there.
As you go along, you can change between the majors and minors to make your piece more intricate. You can take it up or down from there, depending on what you have in mind for your solo. This is just as important as the first point about keeping things simple. As an artist, you can always mix conventional styles with unconventional styles to ensure that your audience isn’t completely out of sync with your music. Lead them into the main part of your solo and carry on from there.
Follow the pentatonic scale religiously
The pentatonic scale is great for solos. It allows you to create awesome solos and is easier to improvise with. There are two types of pentatonic scales:
- The major pentatonic scale
- The minor pentatonic scale
The major scale does not include the 4th and 7th degrees. If you were to play three notes in a sequence, there would be a semitone difference between them.
Similarly, the minor scale does not include the 2nd and the 6th degrees. Again, two notes are semitones and half a step away from the others.
Having the pentatonic scale as a guide can help you continue trying different notes together and will automatically help you get to the next note. There are plenty of resources online to study the pentatonic scale. Learning about the 5 note octave will really help fuel the start of your guitar solo as well as the rest of it.
Try Alternate Pickings
Whether you’re looking to build up the pace of your solo or keep it constant, alternate picking can help you increase your picking speed as well as build more intricate solos. The reason this is so important is that down picking will require you to bring your hand up to rest before you hit the second note. Try playing an upstroke-downstroke-upstroke and then a downstroke-downstroke-downstroke.
It may seem difficult at first, but it can help you increase your speed and efficiency. If you were to play a solo from any heavy metal songs, you’d have a lot staying in pace with the song itself. So, invest time into building your comfort with alternate pickings and as you improve, you can go for more complex solos.