The evolution of a guitar solo…

April 13, 2009 at 10:51 pm (Music)

Gibson Les Paul
Just like a previous post, I thought I would give some insight into the making of a song, from a musical theory point of view. Over the years guitar solo’s have been put on a pedestal as the most important part of a song, and although I disagree with that statement, you do have to respect the complicated nature of many of the great guitar solo’s (see “Stairway to Heaven” or “Freebird”).

Most solo’s follow a particular scale…as previously said, a scale is a pattern of notes that, when played sequentially, make up an ear pleasing sound. For the purposes of my demonstration, I will use one particular scale: A Major Pentatonic. The A Major part of the name refers to the root note of the scale, or the beginning note. Pentatonic is the type of scale it is. Here is an example of the scale: A Major Pentatonic Scale. This is the base structure of our solo.

The Pentatonic scale has a special property about it: when certain extra notes are added, it gains a “bluesy” quality that makes it perfect for blues soloing. The basic shape is the same, just a few notes are added. Here is an example of that scale: “Blues” Pentatonic scale in A major.

We are almost there! Within each guitar solo (especially blues related ones), there is a lot of string manipulation…By that I mean a string not in the scale is pushed or bent upwards so that it does fit in the scale. Its hard to show without a video, but it should be pretty self explanitory when it is heard. I hooked up my electric guitar (Epiphone Les Paul Studio), put on some blues background music, and played an impromto solo in A major using the pentatonic blues scale: Blues Solo.

It may not be the best solo in the world, but its not bad considering I was just jamming. Its that simple! I hope you enjoyed this post!



  1. Bryce Baril said,

    Nice solo

    I like the audio clips, but they are very quiet and quite large as .wav files. Maybe you could use something like Audacity ( to edit them first?

    • jonathancadien said,

      Thanks for the link, I will definitely look into that. As it is, I am using the mic end of a head set to record this stuff so the lack of quality is understandable :). I am working on getting a better mic system, so hopefully I can clean up the sound.

      • Robert said,

        Bryce is right. I have to crank up the volume to hear the clips. I think setting up a computer to record your music would provide another interesting topic to blog about.

  2. Ruth said,

    Was that really you? You are good!! Next time you visit, bring your guitar again, and you and Sydney can jam.

    • Robert said,

      I thinks she’s implying you are as good as her 6 year old…

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