How to Play a Great Guitar Solo

guitar solo
Written by Natalie Wilson with Musical Advisors

Playing a great guitar solo is an excellent way to demonstrate your mastery of the guitar, but it can be difficult to learn intricate passages. The most notable guitarists throughout history have rocked their guitar solos and left their audience blown away by the sound. If you want to learn how to play a great guitar solo, there are some tips that will get you started on your learning process.

guitar solo
Photo purchased by author from Yastremska

Let’s look at some tips for how to play a great guitar solo:


The electric guitar is known for its ability to create unique and unforgettable electronic effects. By experimenting with different sounds, you can be sure you’ll get the attention of your audience. A great way to do this is by using an effect pedal to produce delays or interesting reverbs. For example, if you want your solo to engulf your listener with sound, a reverb pedal set to a Cathedral setting will be a great option for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking to experiment with electronic effects through a pedal, you might want to try a bit crusher pedal.

If you’re interested in learning more about effect pedals, check out this article. Additionally, if you’d like to check out different delay effects, follow this link:

Know Your Scales

Your guitar solos may not always be pre-rehearsed. Even if you have rehearsed your solo countless times, you might want to experiment with improvising while you’re on stage. The best way to ensure your improvisation will sound phenomenal is by knowing your scales inside-out. The best jazz guitarists in history have demonstrated mastery of the fingerings in every scale. By doing this, you’ll be able to play improvised patterns of notes on stage in all different keys. Learning scales can be tedious, but it’s worth it.

Play With the Timing

guitar solo
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Making a guitar solo stand out isn’t only about playing all the correct notes. It’s equally important to bring those notes to life, and one way to do this is to play around with your rhythm. Syncopation involves accenting notes that are usually on the weak beats of a bar. If you’re in 4/4, the accents are typically on beats 1 and 3. In order to play a syncopated rhythm in this time signature, you would simply alter the accents. For example, you could play on beat 2 and tie this note, so you skip beat 3 and don’t play again until beat 4. Syncopation can get complex, so if you’re a beginner, I’d suggest starting off with this basic example and then moving on to difficult rhythms once you’re comfortable.

If you’re not planning on improvising your solo, then you need to make sure you have your pre-rehearsed solo memorized. When musicians are on stage, they’re often a lot more nervous than they would be in the practice room. This makes it much easier to forget the correct notes in a pre-rehearsed solo. I’d suggest memorizing your solo to the point that you don’t need to think through it. You should be able to play your solo with your eyes closed, and with a lot of distractions going on as well. Try to practice your solo with some background noise to prepare yourself for a distracting performance environment.

Roll With the Punches

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This is perhaps the most important tip because no matter how much you prepare, mistakes do happen. Being able to accept those mistakes and move on from them is the most important part of being a musician. Music should be enjoyable, so if you mess up on your solo, try not to sweat it. It’s better to make a mistake and then keep on playing rather than stopping entirely.

Which brings us to the last point:

Don’t Practice Only One Way

If you always practice your guitar solo from start to finish, then you might find yourself struggling to remember what to play next if you mess up on stage and need to start again. Try practicing your solo starting from a variety of different points in the passage. This way, if you make a mistake, you’ll be able to easily pick up the rest of the solo from somewhere in the middle.

In Summary

Hopefully, this article helped you learn how to play a great guitar solo. When you’re playing a guitar solo, it’s important to make sure you have your solo and scales memorized. Memorization is key even if you’re planning on improvising a solo. Additionally, remember to take advantage of all that the electric guitar has to offer by considering different effect pedals and then playing with your rhythms to create something unique. You’ll be sounding like Jimi Hendrix in no time.

About me:

I’m Natalie. I work as a professional musician, session guitarist, and guitar teacher, and would like to use this blog as a personal outlet to share my six-string knowledge with the world. I’m also the owner of

3 thoughts on “How to Play a Great Guitar Solo

  1. Great article! I really found that soloing over a backing track really brought my playing to the next level. It also really helped my ability to play in different keys as well as change up my genres. I also found having knowledge of other scales (rather than just the pentatonic) helped add color to my solos. Thanks for the write-up!

  2. Great info here . I tell my students that music is a language , and as such , we need to build a vocabulary of phrases that we can call up to tell our story as the chords go by . “If you can say it, you can play it” is a simple concept that can take years to develop . Some of us become so wrapped up in the mechanics of improvising , that we aren’t actually hearing what our lines sound like . Sing those lines !!! I believe that most improvisation is a rejuxtaposition of phrases we have internalized. Most players have a vocabulary of phrases that apply to particular situations . Building a “toolbox” of workable lines is a great way to learn the art of improvising .

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