Californication Solo Practice

Hey All - So I started putting some time into this over the weekend as part of continuing to work on all elements of Californication. Not terrible but not perfect obviously! It’s my first go at any type of solo beyond the improvisation in module 10 and I know it’s relatively simple but a good challenge for me anyway.

Couple of observations / questions:

  • Playing this high up the neck felt incredibly cramped and in particular I found not quite knowing where my thumb was best placed, is this more somethign that will become more natural with time moving around the fretboard?
  • Not sure about my fingering choice at various points, particularly using my pinky on the highest note, but moving back doen the frets using my third finger I couldn’t seem to place it correctly. If anyone’s had more experience playing this I’d be interested in what fingering you’ve ended up with.
  • The relevence of the pentatonic scales is beginning to show :slight_smile:

Will still put plenty more time into this but hope it’s an interesting one to share for anyone else who’s looking at playing it.


(And before anyone says it, yes I know, POSTURE :wink: )


Hey Mark, we both have the same idea at working through all elements of Californication :grinning:. I’ve been working on it for a while, go away from it for a bit and come back to it. Similar level to you, learned the solo a few weeks ago. And was actually playing it just before I sat down to read the forum posts!

I’ve found the playing high up the neck starts feeling better with practice. Felt weird at first. I’ve started to naturally either wrap my thumb around or not… just playing more makes it feel better.

I started with using the pinky, but after watching a few youtube videos and finding that some very, very good guitarists at levels much higher than I will ever get to (world class skills) seldom use pinkies when soloing… I decided its easier not to use it. I feel more in control.

Do you have Guitar Pro? There is a pretty good GP file for this solo in it. It shows what is a pull-off, where vibrato is, etc.

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Coming along well there, Mark.

I’m sure when one of our resident lovers of the RHCP and the song, @adi_mrok, has a listen he may give you more specific feedback on timing, bends, etc.

My general observation would be to look at some of Justin’s lessons and study his finger/hand position. For the playing of scales, one seems to play on the finger tips with arched fingers. For playing of solos, seems like the fingers often lay a little flatter and the hand may rotate so the fingers are angled. This often allows your ring finger to to stretch and reach the fret where you may be using your pinky.


You’re getting there with this Mark, well done.

Yes this is something I’ve never quite understood. When learning and practising scales you’re taught to use your pinky. However when soloing you don’t use it and the reason given is because it’s not strong enough for bends, vibrato etc. Why then learn to use it for scales?


Hi people,
learning to use your pinkie finger is really indispensable for a lot of licks… it’s the weakest of the bunch, not practicing this in scales and in licks will cause unsolvable limitations later on the solo road… so keep training that little rascal if you want as few restrictions as possible…
Greetings ,Rogier


Thanks all.

@jkahn - No I don’t have Guitar Pro, I’m not actually aware of it but I’ll take a look. Out of interest have you started trying to play the arpeggios? How have you found that if so?

@DavidP - Thanks, I’ll revisit some of the lessons and look more closely at his positioning.

@sairfingers - Glad I’m not alone there at this early stage! I suppose soloing is more personal in how people play things and comfort take precedence above all but no harm in trying to continue to strengthen the pinky as @roger_holland mentions.

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I learned about Guitar Pro in one of the lessons, Justin has a discount code here: Beginner Blues Solo |

It’s like moving tab that makes noise. Ultimate Guitar Pro has a similar feature. You can control speed, etc.

I’m good with the arpeggios now after a lot of practice. Can’t emphasise how much. I started just with the guitar parts, now can play the bass fills. Hardest part I found that took a LOT of practice for me was the transition riff at the end of each verse. ok with it now but I found it tricky. Would just play it real slow to start.

One part I haven’t done yet (or rather, memorised yet) are the solos backing chords. That’s next :slightly_smiling_face:

Well done Mark exactly my kind of soup here being boiled (thanks for calling @DavidP ) :wink:

As a beginner I think this is really good, clearly if anyone heard you playing it would think this is Californication solo, so you nailed it feom that end.

What is amazing about this solo is that it is so simple at a glance but there are so many fine details to go into which you will understand more with all knowledge you will gain along the learning road.

I could probably breakdown your whole performance to every note but there is no reason for that, what I will try to suggest is things to think about for your level of experience and where you’re at on your guitar journey.

First off when you bend you should use your wrist as an anchor to push the string, not your finger as this will get a bit uncomfortable along the way with big bends and thicker strings (assuming those are 9s)?

Check Justin’s lesson on bending but as you are early on I would hold off on that and perhaps just slide quickly 1 or 2 frets up the neck depending on the bend.

18 sec is where you should be doing a flick off as Justin calls it, technique that is being talked about later on in the course.

Around 39 sec is a unison bend which is way too difficult for now, I would suggest sliding by a fret or two on your bottom e string it should sound better then.

Some little vibratos here and there would be nice but again along the way.

Last comment is your question about pinky finger - I love @roger_holland answer on training your pinky as early as you can as it will give back a lot in the future in different licks. However in this instance I wouldn’t play it with pinky as well as moves are small and transitions are slow between notes so ring finger will do :wink:

All the best and I hope it’s helpful!

Can’t offer any sort of detailed or useful comments about this style of music, but wanted to encourage you in your learnings and pursuits.

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I can’t help with the technical aspects of that piece Mark but that sounded very tasty. :+1:

@adi_mrok Thanks, Adrian, for taking the time to share all of that advice. A really interesting read and pointers for next steps there. On bending that’s interesting to know about the wrist movement, literally done no viewing / studying on bending so just winging that!! The strings I think are actually 10’s, they are what was fitted onto this guitar when I bought it but due for a change soon. I usually have been using 9’s though. Good tip on sliding instead of bending, I did this when I dabbled a little with the “Wonderful Tonight” opening lick.

Flick offs I had a go at but I burst out laughing at me own efforts, same when I tried the unison bend after watching Justin’s lesson on this solo. I’ll wait until I get there I think!!!

And thanks for reinforcing Rogier’s comment on the pinky, I will be continuing to work with it :slight_smile: . All super helpful so thanks again Adrian!

@batwoman @SgtColon Maggie, Stefan, as always thank you the kind words of support and encouragement!


You will be able to do flick offs/pull offs with some practice Mark, they’re in the bass fills and also a lot of other cool songs (eg WYWH) so worth the practice, they’re not out of reach for you at this stage

Good playing. The tone you’re getting is really nice

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Thanks JK, I will do.

I’m finding myself stalled so to speak with my module progression because I’m just wanting to pick up and play around with my songbook and some new little things like this solo practice as well as beginning to work on what I’m hoping to play at OM9. I suppose that’s not a bad thing but I’ve just got in the back of my head that I’m so close to rounding out Grade 2 I really should just get on!!

It’s all playing guitar though so I’m not beating myself too much!

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I’m the same as you Mark. I’ve hit the power chords module and kind of stalled to work on my OM9 piece and a couple of other songs that are not power chord related.


It’s meant to be fun, right? I do the same, I diverge from the course and learn songs I want to learn, learn some different skills, muck around, and come back to it. Nothing wrong with that! I probably learn this solo for the same reason you did. :grinning:




… and as I type my trio of YESs I can hear Richard’s mantra in my head. Just in case you haven’t heard it, “Play songs, play songs, play songs”


Great start, and a good solo to be working on, great way to be practicing bends

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Well played!

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Oh I certainly subscribe to the mantra Maggie!!! I think Justin’s mentioned it a few times too and applicable to any musical instrument, we don’t want to learn it to play scales right? :rofl:

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