Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing solo 1 + 2

Hi all - I’m trying to post one of these per month (last post was 1st of June but close enough!)
A bit of classic soft dad rock - Sultans of Swing.

I’ve always wanted to learn this song, the rhythm part was one of the first songs I learned when I got my head around barre chords. Learning all the lead parts is a little daunting so I started off just trying to learn both solos.

Trying to record these in as few takes as possible - there are quite a few mistakes!!

A couple of things I noticed on the recording:
Trying to play without a pick to be more like Knophler - It is kind of weird and felt a bit clunky - definitely using my thumb too much.
I’m pretty terrible at the quick hammer/pull off part at the end of the second solo - just need to keep practicing that.

Just recording this with a bluetooth speaker for the backing track, amp and a phone.

Let me know what you think, advice/criticism welcome!


There’s nothing in this recording that’s terrible Joe, and there’s a lot to like. Give yourself credit for that.

Joe, was definitely Sultans of Swing. So fully recognisable playing (and far better than me). Was very good!

Yes I did notice the legato bit at the end of the second solo. And some very minor bits throughout where it wasn’t identical to the record… but seriously that’s minor stuff. If it wasn’t such an iconic song I don’t think I would have noticed.

WAAY above my play grade, great playing.

This song is advanced stuff but an excellent practice and workout.

Don’t go so heavy on the strumming of the chorus and limit yourself in the amount of strings you hit there.

You are making great progress on this, Joe. Already sounding good with the vibe and flow. Just keep at it.

A tip when practicing is to focus on the bits that are most challenging, rather than playing the whole solo start to finish over and over. Focus in, maybe slow it down, and repeat the challenging bit, perhaps a lead in lick and the legato piece which is not yet as fluent as the rest.

Above my guitar playing ceiling but I can appreciate the effort that goes into learning the techniques of the song. Well done.

Well done Joe I really enjoyed that listen! You know yourself which bits you need to sharpen up on but that was really great! Way beyond me to critique.

Hi, Sultans of Swing ist one of my absolute favourite songs. And I admire everybody, who ist able to play it - even if it’s ‘only’ parts of it. I’m an absolute beginner on the guitar, and this Song is on my ‘dreamer-songlist’. And probably ever will. Really, well done :smiley:. Hope to see further videos of your progress :slightly_smiling_face:.

Great work Joe! A difficult song indeed with the lead/solo parts. Thought you did very well. Great to see someone here playing it.
Probably my main ’ Dreamer’ song. Got the rhythm part going along OK, but the lead/ solo parts are going to take some significant development.
Good stuff mate!


Hi there,

Great song, and a fine effort from your side to start learning it. It’s quite tricky to play with a clean tone as well as using your fingers on the right hand.

I would like to offer some constructive feedback as well; First of all, like David recommends above, I would also suggest that you “zoom in” on smaller sections and try to make them really good. Despite it being a good effort there are lots and lots of imprecisions and mistakes left in your playing. It is, to me, quite clear that with this song you’re trying for something that is still above your “comfort zone” :wink: Which is perfectly fine - in fact I believe we learn best by challenging ourselves. But it’s also important to apply our own “critical ear” to the result, and then work in a focused way to get better.

One concrete thing I believe you should do it look at your right hand positioning. In your recording you can often hear a lot of open strings sounding when they shouldn’t - that’s due to a lack of proper muting. You can see that, due to the angle in which you keep your right hand, that most of the time D,A and E strings are not touched by any flesh, and will therefore pick up unwanted vibrations very easily. You’ll basically want to mute those with the palm of your right hand.

On top op that, I can hear that your left and right hands are not in sync - meaning, you do not always pluck the string when it’s actually pressed down with your fretting hand. That leads to dull/muted notes, where they should ring out cleanly. On the right hand I think some of this is, again, due to that angle you keep it in. With no anchoring the hand is “flying” freely, and it becomes a lot harder to steer it to pluck the right string at the exact right location.

I once recorded a video of me playing a song in the style of Knopfler (in fact inspired a lot by this tune), and I will drop a link here… perhaps you can pick up some of what I’m talking about from it. Perhaps check out how my right hand moves between the string, and how it’s always muting all the string I don’t want to hear ringing out.

There are many example of this, but perhaps check the small section from approx 0:44 to 0:50.
Notice that when I play the arpeggio (from low to higher strings) I do want the strings to ring out together - so I change the angle of my hand to an “open” position… but as soon as I pluck the bend on that high string, I change the hand back to mute the other strings again… so only the wanted note, the bend, is left to ring. Stuff like that…

Otherwise, good luck! Playing this style of music is super fun and satisfying!

(Nice guitar btw! :slight_smile: )


Hey Joe that was a good effort and certainly recognisable for sure.

I have not got the playing skills to give technical advice. Kasper has for sure in spades and lots of good direction in what he says. The only thing I noticed was your right thumb position in respect of the end of your fingers. Try to straighten the wrist so the thumb is in front of the fingers. That will give you better clearance, at the moment the index finger will restrict the thumbs downward movement. Advice given to me when I have recorded some tentative finger style. Check out Kasper’s thumb - ok not a big deal for this piece, as the movement are fairly small but something to be aware of. Looking forward to seeing this progress.



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Thanks to everyone for taking the time to watch my video.
@batwoman Very kind of you to say, thank you.

@jkahn - I think sometimes I have too much of a ‘that will do’ attitude towards playing - thinking its close enough when I should push a bit more to get it more authentic to the original recording, especially with such an iconic song. I need to work on my rhythm a bit, inspired since I saw one of your videos - I’m doing a lot more with a metronome now.

@LievenDV - Thank you, I think I ‘lock up’ a bit switching between the rhythm and lead playing - need to work a bit on my dynamics and listen to that original recording to get it right!

@DavidP - Very good advice - That legato part needs serious work - watching it again in the cold light of day was horrible today! :sweat_smile:

@Willsie01 @sairfingers @NicoleKKB Thank you for taking the time to listen, very good of you to comment!

@sclay Thanks Shane, best of luck to you with learning this one as well- I’ve really enjoyed it so far but had a few moments of frustration!

@TheMadman_tobyjenner That’s really helpful re. the thump positioning. I never really considered the ergonomics of hand position etc. in playing but it makes total sense! Definitely something that could trip me up in the future - Thanks for taking the time to listen!


Hi Kasper,
Firstly thanks for taking time to write such a detailed reply.
You’re right - this is a song that is above my current skill level - I try to see songs like this as more of a project, or maybe a way to learn a specific technique which will help me progress overall. I suppose one of the downsides of this is that things take much longer to get ‘comfy’ with a piece.

That’s really helpful with the muting, and not something I’d really considered before - I think because I’m used to using a pick the strings are more ‘exposed’ when using fingers - I’ll work on that one! You also mentioned anchoring the right hand. I’ve watched through your video a couple of times now and I can see what you mean - you seem to have your pinky anchored on the bridge - in comparison my hand is like a headless chicken!

Love your playing in the video - exactly the kind of playing I aspire towards! Thank you for posting. I can hear loads of Knophler coming through - the volume swells from ‘Brothers in Arms’, parts of ‘What it is’ and of course lots of parts from Sultans of Swing. There is so much nuance to this type of playing, which I can hear really clearly in your video - the arpeggio and the bend are really good examples of that.

I suppose I can’t now blame my gear for holding me back :rofl: :rofl: - Great taste in guitars!

Thank you again for your advice and feedback.

You’re very welcome, and I can read from your reply that you really got all the points I was trying to make… so I’m sure you’ll see a lot of progress on this quickly :slight_smile: Best of luck!


@Kasper What an awesome video. Pro level playing. Also one of the coolest ACDC T shirts I’ve seen :rofl:.

At the risk of a thread hijack, I’m curious on your guitar journey to get to the point you’re at. I did some community stalking on your profile and saw that even 7 years ago you were releasing what to my ears is a very, very high level of playing. How did you get there, how do you maintain that level? How long have you been playing?

I guess maybe I’m asking you to do a learning log so I can read all about it :grinning:.

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Pretty tasty stuff there Joe. I thought it was a great cover of an iconic song.

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Might do that at some point - but in another thread :wink:


Sounds good man ! Some parts were right on to me and it will sound more like the actual recording with practice, you’re not far off.

Your tone sounds right and you were on time (which I know is something I struggle with and if you have the timing you’ve got the solid foundation for the techniques to follow)

And well done without a pick , I don’t see many people playing that without a pick but seems like you took what’s already a difficult song and made it more difficult there!

Very nice. This is one of my all time favourite tracks and I’m such a long way from being able to attempt it on guitar, so I’m extremely impressed by your efforts here.

The tone sounded very on point to me. Any tips on how to set up the guitar/amp to get that Dire Straits feel? Are you using any particular gear or settings that you would recommend?

Also did I see you changing the pickup selector mid-playthrough? Or were you adjusting a pot?

Hey Joe,
Sounded pretty good on this end. Liked your play and hope you continue to work over the song, in other areas you don’t have down yet. No doubt about it, this is a great song choice!

All the best,