Most guitar players struggle to make great guitar solos. If you are also having a hard time with this, then you can easily start making highly expressive solos by using the power of your favorite singer’s voice. Once you learn how to use a vocal style in your lead guitar playing, you will be able to write passionate guitar solos that have a different sound from everyone else. Here is how I discovered this idea:
Early in my musical career I was trying out to become the lead guitar player in a band. Overall, the experience didn’t go so well, and I didn’t make it into the band. However, I will always remember the parting comment that was made to me as I was leaving the audition: As I packed up my guitar and amp to leave, one of the band members said “We don’t want you back here until you know how to make that guitar sing.” Although I didn’t really understand the meaning of this at the time, I was curious to find out how to “make the guitar sing.”
As time went on, I started studying all of the singers I liked by merely focusing and observing the precise manner in which they sang their melodies. I would listen to the way they phrased their notes, the techniques they would use, and other smaller subtleties. Then, I started to transcribe their singing phrases onto guitar. Finding the correct pitches was not too hard, but being able to accurately simulate all of the small subtleties of their vocal phrases and vibrato technique on guitar was much more of a challenge.
Later on I was exposed to the first albums from the band Rhapsody Of Fire. For me, this was a huge turning point in my guitar phrasing. At the time I was shocked by the awesome vocals of their lead singer, Fabio Lione. From the first moment I heard his voice, I knew I had to study his style as much as possible so that I could use his powerful ability as a tool in my guitar soloing. I spent many hours analyzing the subtle vocal techniques in all of Rhapsody Of Fire’s music.
Here is the most powerful thing I learned:
It didn’t really matter what notes (or words) the singer was singing. What made a certain singer stand out were the subtle nuances of ‘how’ each note was sung. For instance, why so many fantastic vocalists use different levels of volume in their voice for a certain phrase, why they ornament some notes within a melody in a particular way and why they sing with heavy vibrato at the ends of some phrases. At the moment when I truly began to see these subtleties, I started to make massive progress with my guitar soloing ability.
A lot of you probably know that at the start of 2011, I was asked to be a guitar player in Rhapsody Of Fire. One of the strongest reasons why the band liked my guitar playing was because I had great ability with creating vocal style guitar phrases.
Now, what can you learn from all of this?
The power to make your guitar playing “sing” is one of the greatest tools any guitar player can have. An additional plus is that you can integrate the guitar player who is already inside you with the power of a singer’s voice in order to make your playing very passionate and unique. If you have this ability, you can make your guitar solos stand out from everyone else.
As an exercise, take a vocal line from a singer you really like. Next, make sure you fully understand the subtle parts of that person’s technique. Once you have done this, use those ideas to create your own guitar solo.
Watch this video to see an example of a solo I quickly wrote using this exact process.