Making Guitar Solos Sing With Melodic Intervals

Author: Tommaso Zillio

Do you find your lead guitar playing becoming trapped in a linear progression? Have you spent a lot of practice hours breaking out of those patterns? Do you feel like your fingers dictate your solo rather than your ears?

This has happened to almost every player at one point or another. From the perspective of a guitar teacher, I believe the issue stems from the way players are taught different scales over the last thirty years. Scales are important to learn, but most "instructors" have put them emphasis on learning them by heart and simply playing them up and down.

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What this has created is a large number of guitar students who get stuck playing scale patterns that aren’t as universally useful as they are taught — and you may have been taught this way, too. If you have been following my articles you may have heard me discussing the CAGED system in these terms. But that’s a debate for another article.

There are hundreds of ways to get out of this mode of thinking. One of the best, however, is to master the scales instead of just learning, and being trapped by them. In the end, there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way scales are taught.

To get started, we’re going to go in the diametrically opposed direction, leave behind the scale patterns, and move across the fretboard in a different way. We are going to traverse the fretboard using intervals and paying close attention to the different sounds this makes possible. I’ll show this specifically in one, simple example: playing diatonic intervals of sixth. Melodies created with intervals of sixth are soothing, and can be blended into any genre with ease, and if this doesn’t strike your fancy, you can always use different intervals, like an open fifth or a tense seventh to spice things up.

I created a short video below to show you what I mean, as tablature and text can’t always go deep enough. Take a look through it now:

While the licks per se are interesting (at least, in my opinion), the important thing is to leave the scale pattern behind and use the intervals to move up and down the fretboard. Certainly, this won’t sound the way a usual scale will.

Try this, maybe using other intervals than the sixth, to get a different sound and spice up your solos. Keep practicing and you’ll start to notice a major shift in the way your solos sound and you see the fretboard.

About the Author

Tommaso Zillio is a professional guitarist and guitar teacher. Visit Tommaso’s site to know more about music theory for guitar

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