9 Ways Neglected Skills Can Destroy Your Soloing

In this post we’re talking about 9 ways that your soloing is wiping you out on the guitar... Are you having difficulties with gaining better skill when it comes to soloing? Does there seem to be the same collection of areas that never seem to improve? When these areas are understood and then targeted and developed, you’ll quickly start seeing results... 

My advice right from the start of this discussion is that you never want to sacrifice any of the soloing rich practice areas like; Music Theory, Rhythm Skills, Ear Training, and Technical development.

If any of those area are sacrificed, then your soloing will continue to sound mediocre - rather than head down a path of constant improvement.



(1). The first area I want to cover is “Scale Knowledge.” If your scale knowledge is weak – your solos are going to be really compartmentalized.

In other words, if all you know is the Minor Pentatonic, you’ll want to expand on that. Even if you’re soloing style will be really basic… You’ll still benefit in a big way by learning about the full 7-tone Major Scale, the Nat. Minor Scale and the basic ideas behind how Modes work.

Don’t sacrifice this stuff. It really helps to know how to apply these scales, even if you only use the smallest amount of them for your style of playing.

(2). The next area is having a poor ability for phrasing music, and if you don’t bother working on it so you can get better you'll stagnate as a soloist.

Phrasing is the ability to smoothly connect musical ideas from one to the next. It’s not the easiest thing to do. Whether you’re composing or improvising – phrasing is a serious skill that takes a great deal of; time, study, and many hours of at home practice to get good at.

So whatever happens, don’t neglect soloing. Practice with jam-tracks, learn all the famous solos that you can, and record yourself as much as possible.

(3). The next area that tends to drag down a Guitar players soloing ability is when there’s a weakness with knowledge and application of harmony and theory.

If you have no clue as to what key a songs solo section is in, then you won’t know the scales or modes that are available. If you don’t know that stuff, then you’re going to be lost.

All of us, (at some point) have experienced that feeling of being lost in a song and it sucks. If your knowledge of Harmony and Theory is bad, start studying that topic. Learn how to analyze music so that you have more flexibility as a guitar player.

(4). The next area is going to be that of Rhythm skills. Quite often if a player has very limited knowledge for rhythms like the rhythm feel of; straight time beats, or syncopation, shuffle beats, the swing rhythm, Latin beats and all types of others, then as a musician you’re going to have limited rhythmic creativity.

This means you won’t be able to bring more unique aspects of rhythmic feel into your solos. What's really interesting is that, it doesn’t matter the style you want to play, or how technical the guitar ideas are going to be that you play. Rhythm plays a role with everything musical.

Rhythm is such a huge factor that you absolutely can’t ignore it in your soloing.

(5). The next area has to do with playing skill /technique and in particular weakness with aspects of technical ability.

Guitar technique and especially guitar soloing is about being able to play all kinds of hand movements with ease. Plus, it’s also about having great right and left hand dexterity.

However, if you never work on this topic, you’ll ultimately end up coming across a lot of music for solos and melody lines and rhythm riffs that you won’t be able to play very well.

Be sure to dedicate a period of each day to the study of guitar technique. Because, there’s a lot of freedom and happiness that comes from being able to play music easily with little to no effort.

(6). Being misunderstood is never fun, because in social life it could lead to humiliation. When you take this to the guitar neck, things can get really bad. If you’re all mixed up and misunderstood about how the neck is laid out, you'll have a lot of trouble soloing.

You need to study how the geometry of the neck works and how the intervals operate. If this area is confusing then you’re going to feel humiliated if and when someone who does understand the neck asks you to do something basic in a songs solo, or for a guitar riff.

And, for that reason alone, that’s why it’s super important to work hard at learning exactly how the guitar neck functions.

(7). Musical patterns or what we’ll often just refer to as “Guitar Licks and Riffs,” are generally what we learn during our earliest days of playing the instrument.

These ideas are fun, they motivate us, and they help us improve our skills. But, in far too many cases, guitarists do not stretch themselves far enough when it comes to learning musical patterns.

What I mean specifically, is that we often limit the musical styles, the variations possible through techniques and the musical artists who we expose ourselves to. This is not very good when it comes to being a balanced - well rounded player.

It is important to stretch yourself when it comes to learning musical patterns. It’ll help to push you towards much higher levels of overall playing skill and musical awareness.

(8). The next area that I want to mention has to do with the necessary ongoing musical study of the classic players and classic songs. Whether that's Miles Davis, Eric Clapton, Mozart, Beethoven or Slash. The classic players and their music is vital.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to study as many of the famous players and their music /songs that you can possibly fit in during your lifetime here on Earth. It's not enough to only learn a few styles and songs. You really do need to learn, learn and learn some more. It cannot stop.

Study the legends of Jazz, of Classical music, of pop, rock, folk and country. And, learn as many songs as you possibly can from the artists that have become household names around the globe.

The legends are famous for a reason, and it pays to learn why!

(9). My final point has to do with public performance. If you only play guitar solos at home, you’ll never train your body to have the control over itself that it needs in order to be able to perform both solos and music with both confidence and rock solid intention.

This is especially true with regard to learning how to control mistakes and gain confidence over your thoughts and learning control over your body’s natural adrenaline rush when you play live in front of an audience.

These physical and psychological elements will occur naturally when you perform in front of an audience. But, even if they drive you crazy at first, the nice part is with more and more time on stage they can be controlled.

Every live performance that you do will help your live playing skills, and the more stage time that you have will help you take charge over your sense of focus along with your overall confidence.

And, for those reasons, you need to get up and play live up on a stage in front of audiences. It is the most powerful way that we have at our disposal as musicians to be able to perfect our craft up to the highest skill levels.

As always, thanks for joining me, if you liked this post and its video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more on YouTube, (and remember to hit that bell when you subscribe so that you’ll never miss any of my lesson uploads here on YouTube).

Until next time, take care and we'll catch up again on the next lesson post. Bye for now!



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