First Steps to Learning Guitar Solos for Beginners

If you’ve ever listened to an epic guitar solo and thought “I wish I could play like that” – you’re not alone. Guitar solos seem otherworldly, the stuff of guitar gods and virtuosos. However, while it does take commitment and practice, learning guitar solos is not impossible for beginners.

With the right first steps, even novice guitarists can start learning solos. In this article, we’ll break down key techniques to learn as a beginner before tackling your first guitar solos.

Getting Started with Guitar Basics First

Become Fluent with Common Chords

Learning the most common major, minor and dominant 7th chords should be step one. Start with open chords like G, C, D, Em, Am. Be able to quickly transition between chords smoothly without hesitation.

If you’re still very new, don’t feel discouraged if switching chords feels clumsy. Be patient, practice transitions slowly. Over time muscle memory takes over and changing chords becomes second-nature.

Practice Strumming Rhythmically

Along with mastering chords, dedicating time solely to strumming is vital. Work on alternating between steady down and up strums. Focus on keeping time, strumming to a metronome if needed.

Down the line advanced solos incorporate intricate and syncopated rhythmic patterns. But initially train your strumming hand to flow effortlessly through measures. Don’t underestimate this step. Having solid rhythmic fundamentals enables you to give attention to melodies and phrasing when learning solos later on.

Guitar player soloing

Understanding Notes on the Guitar Neck

Memorize the Notes on Low E & A Strings

Start simple by memorizing all the natural notes on the low E string, then the A string. Say each note aloud as you play the string from the open position upwards. Reinforce by testing yourself frequently.

Moving horizontally across two strings may feel limiting, but don’t gloss over this basic knowledge. Having an intuitive sense of the low E and A string’s notes cements your understanding of intervals between notes. This understanding is vital when navigating solos.

Grasping Intervals Between Notes

Why learn intervals? Understanding distances between notes enables you to effectively move along the fretboard when soloing.

For example, if you play the open low E string you’re fretting an E note. Move up three frets to the third fret, and you’re now playing a G note. You’ve just moved up a musical interval called a minor third.

Intervals are the building blocks of scales. And scales in turn make up solos. So take your time developing interval expertise across all strings by referencing note chart diagrams.

Starting with Pentatonic Scales

What exactly are guitar scales, and why learn them? Scales provide melodic frameworks when improvising guitar solos. They outline which notes in a key “work” together as you move up and down the fretboard.

For most beginners, the minor pentatonic scale is ideal to start with. Pentatonic scales only utilize 5 notes, reducing the amount of information to memorize. The simplicity helps novice guitarists grasp patterns that can be expanded into fretboard-spanning solos.

To practice the A minor pentatonic scale, play this pattern starting from the 5th fret on the low E string:

E string: 5-8 A string 5-7-10 D string 7-10 G string 7-10

Repeat this shape higher up the fretboard. Get acquainted with connecting scale patterns up and down the neck. Focus on accuracy and clean tone, speed will come later. Be patient in laying this vital foundation.

Finding Beginner Guitar Solos to Learn

Start with Slow Tempo Solos

A common mistake is tackling solos that are too fast too soon. It strains your hands and risks developing bad technical habits. Instead, find an uncomplicated solo played at a moderate tempo. Familiarize at slower speeds using audio software if needed.

Prioritize Feeling the Music Over Speed

Similar to slowing songs down, don’t fixate solely on speed. Musical expression must come first before precision. Study the soloist’s phrasing, and how long they sustain certain notes. Pay attention to vibratos that imbue emotion into held notes. Striving first for musicality over speed accelerates your development.

Choose Solos Centered in Pentatonic Scales First

Since you already practiced pentatonic scales, find solos largely composed of those familiar patterns. Tabs even denote when the soloist plays “in the box” pentatonic versus more advanced scales. This simplifies learning your first solos significantly.

Imitate and Internalize the Phrasing

Think of your fretboard as a blank tablature sheet. Mentally plot where solos move position-wise. Visualize patterns skipping across particular strings and frets. Where do phrases ascend or descend? Does the soloist emphasize string bending or rapid legato runs? Pay close attention to all melodic nuances.

By truly listening and mapping solos in your mind, your hands grow accustomed to the musical vocabulary. Phrases become ingrained over time through repetitious practice. Be sure to memorize solos instead of becoming reliant on tabs or charts.

Patience is Key in Your First Year of Practice

In Conclusion – Patience and Consistency Are Key

Learning your first guitar solos requires diligence and sustained effort. Progress can seem glacial in the beginning. That’s normal. Building proficiency takes months and consistent practice. Beware of unrealistic expectations that lead to frustration.

Trust in the process and keep sight of the end goal even during plateaus. Small daily improvements compound over weeks into noticeable gains. Before long you’ll surprise yourself by how far your guitar abilities have advanced.

Soon enough those elusive solos won’t seem so impossible. With the right mindset and commitment to smart practice, you’ll be improvising heartfelt solos sooner than you imagine. So be patient with yourself, have fun with the instrument, and let inspiration lead your musical journey.

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FAQ Section – Common Beginner Questions

Here we’ll address some common questions students have when starting to learn guitar solos:

What are some good beginner guitar solos to learn first?

For raw beginners “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses provides a recognizable yet fundamental introduction to pentatonic solos. Once comfortable try “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult or “Fade to Black” by Metallica. These feature melodic solos at slower tempos.

Do I need special gear to play solos as a beginner?

Beyond a decent beginner’s acoustic or electric guitar, focus first on technique not equipment. Down the line consider a basic amp like the Fender Champion 20 for added distortion and overdrive. Effects pedals help further shape tone, but resist overcomplicating the signal chain early on.

How long does it take before I can start trying guitar solos?

This varies per student obviously, but expect at least 6 months to a year of dedicated practice before tackling basic solos. Ensure you put in time memorizing notes, intervals and scales across the whole fretboard. Having that knowledge internalized makes learning solos much more intuitive.

Is getting a guitar teacher necessary for learning solos?

Private instructors excel at providing feedback and lesson plans structured for your level. They also hold students accountable to avoiding lazy practice habits. That said, today’s wealth of online instruction such as Breakthrough Guitar means self-directed learning is more viable than ever. Whichever route, be sure to film yourself regularly to self-critique form.

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