7 Top Tips to immediately improve your soloing and jamming

Discover how to immediately improve your jamming and soloing ability with these Top Tips:
  1. If you want to improve, make a point of being familiar with which chord you are playing over at any one time. Use chord diagrams or, even better, learn the rhythm part first. If you desire to play melodically you'll want to emphasise certain notes over certain chords. For example, recognise that the Dm pentatonic contains the notes F, A and C - which when played together form the F major chord. Dm pentatonic is therefore a strong position to play whenever an F major chord is predominant in the backing. If this seems a bit ahead of your current level, then simply aim for the root-note for whichever chord is being played at the time. For instance, if the rhythm is playing a bar of each chord - G, Bm, C, A - then play a lick that ends on a G note over the 1st bar, then a lick that ends on a B during the 2nd, then end on a C, and finally an A over the fourth bar.


  2. Many players can rip up and down the fretboard at great speed but great players can make one note sound outstanding - how good can you make one note sound? I humbly offer you the following example: Skip to around 1:45 on the following video. Check out what I'm playing at 1:50: I bend up to a C# note and 'milk it' for about 8seconds - it's only one note, but I manage to build a lot of tension and even evoke a 'whoop!' from someone in the crowd ~ with only one note: Practice expressing more feeling with less notes. I suggest that phrasing (the order of notes you play, and how long you spend on each) is usually more important than speed.


  1. Jamming is a great way to improve your improvisational skills but it only helps you to be good at one thing - jamming. Unlike jamming, solos require THEME, FORM and DIRECTION. A good solo has a beginning, middle and end.


  2. Does the song need a solo? Try to avoid the attitude of 'doing it just because you can'. More quality, less often, is far better than endlessly repeating yourself. Play the audience - have them wanting more - underplay instead of overplaying.


  3. What you don't play is just as important as what you do - don't be afraid of leaving space. Try to get together with a really good drummer and bassist; they will sound great without you, so you can afford to ease back and be the 'icing on the cake'.


  4. Vocalise your playing; that is to play a solo as you would speak or sing. You would soon get tired of listening to someone who spoke or sang in a monotone and the same is true of guitar. Phrasing and dynamics are where it's at. Try learning some saxophone solos - saxophonists often play great phrases; they tend to be far more melodic than most guitarists.


  5. What is your sound like? So many players can play lots of impressive twiddley bits but their sound is lacking. You don't need musical knowledge or years of experience to get a good sound. You just need to make having a good sound a priority. It's the same with tuning, people don't play out of tune because they can't hear - they just don't make it a priority to listen to whether or not they're in tune.
Related posts: 
Lead guitar techniques series
The minor pentatonic and blues scales ~ everywhere!
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