How To Start Soloing

How To Start Soloing

Soloing on the guitar can be a challenging but rewarding experience. Before we get into the details of how to start soloing in any key, here are some key tips to think about before diving in:

Learn scales

Knowing scales is essential for soloing. Start with the minor pentatonic scale, which is used in a lot of rock and blues music. Practice playing it up and down the neck of the guitar until you can do it without thinking.

Practice technique

In order to solo effectively, you need to have good technique. Spend time practicing alternate picking, legato playing (hammer-ons and pull-offs), and vibrato.

See more guitar techniques

Listen to solos

Listen to guitar solos in different genres and try to pick out what the guitarist is doing. Study their phrasing, note choices, and rhythm.

Start simple

Begin with a simple solo and build up from there. Use just a few notes at first and try to create a melody.

Use repetition

Repetition is an effective tool in soloing. Repeating a simple phrase can make it sound more interesting.

Emphasize the chord tones

When soloing, it's important to emphasize the chord tones. These are the notes that make up the chords being played by the rhythm section.

Play with feeling

 Finally, remember that soloing is about expressing yourself through the guitar. Play with feeling and emotion to make your solos more impactful.

Remember to be patient and persistent. Soloing takes time and practice, but with dedication, you can become a great soloist.

Major vs Minor Scale Pentatonic

The pentatonic scales are 5-note scales that are widely used in many genres of music, including rock, blues, and jazz. The major and minor pentatonic scales are two of the most common pentatonic scales.

The major pentatonic scale is a 5-note scale that consists of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th degrees of the major scale. For example, if you take the C major scale (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) and only use the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th degrees (C, D, E, G, A), you get the C major pentatonic scale. The major pentatonic scale has a bright, happy sound and is commonly used in pop, country, and rock music.

The minor pentatonic scale is a 5-note scale that consists of the 1st, flattened 3rd, 4th, 5th, and flattened 7th degrees of the natural minor scale. For example, if you take the A natural minor scale (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) and only use the 1st, flattened 3rd, 4th, 5th, and flattened 7th degrees (A, C, D, E, G), you get the A minor pentatonic scale. The minor pentatonic scale has a bluesy, melancholy sound and is commonly used in blues, rock, and metal music.

Both the major and minor pentatonic scales are versatile and can be used to create melodies and solos over chord progressions. They are also easy to learn and play on the guitar, making them a great starting point for beginners.

Scale Starting Positions

The starting position of any scale will depend on whether you are playing a Major Scale or a Minor Scale. If you're new to soloing and you want to get started with some simple licks, then this article is for you!

In this example we are showing position 1 of the C Major pentatonic  scale, and its relative A Minor pentatonic scale. The C Major scale starting position is on the 6th string, 8th fret (in solid blue in the image below). The A Minor scale starting position is the note in solid orange on the 6th string, 5th fret.

Note the Minor scale starting position vs the Major scale starting position. 

Pentatonic Key Position

The pattern is the same for every key, just move the pattern to the corresponding position on the fretboard.

Key Points

  • Determine if you're playing a Major scale or a Minor scale
  • Decide which key to play in and locate that note on the bottom string (low E string)
  • Position the starting note accordingly, and follow the pattern

It doesn't matter which key you play in, the pattern is the same!

Extend the pattern

Add in the notes illustrated on the 9th and 10th fret. (frets will change according to the key, in this example we are in the key of C Major / A Minor)

Pentatonic Key Position 2