Think about the last time you heard a really stunning solo in a song. What was it that made it leap out of the speakers and sound so incredible? If you’ve experienced any troubles capturing this “je ne sais quoi”, check out these tips for getting some great solos in your tracks (with examples!)
1. Work on getting a great and interesting tone. Whether you’re working on a screaming guitar solo or a smooth jazz tenor sax solo, get a great, full, and interesting tone. This should be priority number one. Check out one of the best solos of all time, and listen to the tone. It’s interesting right from the start and has an energy all its own! See 4:55.
2. Don’t perfect it. Make it perfect. This looks weird in writing, but it basically means that you shouldn’t focus on having every single note perfect, but rather making the entire feel and overall solo perfect. This means that mistakes are ok – sometimes even preferred. Listen to the type of character you can get when you do it right – especially places like 0:20 where its not quite perfect, but it feels so right.
3. Use rhythm to your advantage. Simply by changing up the rhythm and adding some interesting elements to it, you can create a much more interesting solo. The long notes, fast notes, and crazy manipulation of the rhythm (among many other things) makes this solo super interesting to listen to:
4. Use pitch to your advantage. This should be obvious, but a lot of times, it can be overlooked. By starting out on the highest note of your instrument, you instantly draw attention to yourself and can capture an audience immediately. However, creeping in on the lower tones and working your way up can be just as effective in building the excitement.
5. Make it a melody. Think of your solo as a melody that you’re crafting – it should have its hooks to it. Some great “solos” are simply that – just a really hooky riff that keeps the listener interested. See 2:15.
6. Learn your scales, but don’t just play scales. There’s nothing worse that hearing a blues scale up, blues scale down, then up, then down… BORING! That’s why its important to know your scales and notes, but to switch it up. Again, make it interesting by making it like a melody (see #5).
7. Try some different instruments. You never know what is going to sound cool until you try it out! Everything from piano, guitar, bass, or even talkbox. See 2:38.