How can I make my solos more interesting?

I know the first pattern of the major scale, and I’ve been soloing over songs for a bit. I’ll solo over songs in my spotify playlist. But most of my solos sound boring. Does anyone have any tips or exercises on how I can make them sound more interesting?

Hi there,

What do you mean by boring? Maybe this lesson can help you to get another perspective on pattern 1:

Without knowing what you know other than the Major Scale it’s hard to give you solid advice.

Can you use the pentatonic scales Both Major and Minor( they are both derived from the major scale? Do you know any licks or Riffs, how well can you bend strings, hows your vibrato. Do you know what phrasing is? Do you play the changes over the songs your trying to solo over?
What kind of music do you listen to? Chances are the major scale won’t fit over it.

Stitch what is phasing?

I’m currently towards the end of Grade 3 in the guitar course, and I’ve finished grade 3 of the music theory course. I know the first pattern of the minor pentatonic but I haven’t learned the major pentatonic. I haven’t learned any licks yet. I can bend strings some on my electric but I can’t do it well on acoustic. I can do vibrato but I haven’t practiced it much so I’m just ok at it. I don’t know what phrasing is. I can tell that the major scale fits when I’m playing as nothing sounds dissonant or wrong, it just doesn’t sound interesting. It sounds like fiddling around with a scale rather than playing a lead part in a song.

Sorry should have said Phrasing. I edited it

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This part is totally normal. Try listening to your favorite guitar players and pick bits out of their playing. Don’t start with learning whole solos, just the parts that catch your ear.
Have you seen Justin’s lesson with Lee?
They will help put you a a good path of learning how to practice your soloing.

Thanks for the advice, I just watched a video about phrasing which seems like it will be helpful. I haven’t seen the lessons with lee but I’ll check them out.

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Hey mate,

Massive subject area this one.
One routine I have found extremely beneficial is to solo over 1 chord. ( Plenty of them on Youtube).

Identify the chord tones of the chord, lets say A Major - AC#E. See where they are in the A major or pentatonic scale, and target them. Move to and from them via other notes in scale, experimenting with timing, phrasing etc. See how different notes sound against the chord. Make up little licks, runs, melidies etc.
You will be very surprised how melodic this can sound when you pursue it diligently. It also removes the challenge of chasing chords, which I believe, early on
sort of "dilutes’ your learning.
I’m finding that with lead/ soloing, you have play the long game, focusing on smaller elements, and methodically building from there.
All the best.

Cheers, Shane


Only thing I can say as a late beginner is to not stay in the same box. Use more of the 5 boxes on the neck. Also try bigger intervals between notes. Pauses (rests) can be good. Try and figure out a melody if you can. Like I said, I’m a late beginner/early intermediate so have a long way to go in my guitar journey :slight_smile:

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Take a ride on the pentatonic highway: Scale Diagrams A min Pentatonic - #29 by CT


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Hi Carl,
I rather think what Shane says is way better, and that is also what Justin thinks. First get to know a pattern really well, make music with it for a long time in every imaginable way … as a beginner who stomps 5 patterns in my head I find out … what i did before i got to justin…is total waste of time….start with the first and slowly build up…really very slowly.
Greetings ,Rogier

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Something that has helped me along is for instance: whistling, or humming a tune, before i play it. No backing track needed. Just see if you can play the idea that has just formed in your head. Then apply that to a solo, with backing track if it fits. The other way around works too. Play a backing track and hum a solo, or whistle, or sing, without playing the guitar.
Another thing is listening to / looking at licks and phrases from your favourite guitarplayers. (in my case, there’s Kenny Burell, Joe Pass, etc…) and learn some of those. Then try to incorporate them into your soloing.
And as Justin says, it’s best to start of in one position of a scale, learn to make music there, and then branch out to other postions. You comprehension will be so much better. And your music will too.

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I’m going to jump in here and contradict you with the advice Justin gives here.

If you are not yet able to make use of one scale pattern in a single position on the neck, the worst thing you can do is to learn more scale shapes. You need to get develop techniques and musical know-how to use one basic tool before trying to work with others.

Do you know the key of those songs to therefore play the major scale in the same key? Do you know that they are all in major keys and do not change key?

The minor pentatonic is a more user-friendly and accessible route into playing lead improvisation by learning licks and more. Check out this tip topic to explore that path: First Steps in Blues Improvisation using Minor Pentatonic Scale Pattern 1

Try this …

Play the mp3 backing tracks of each of the chords G, Am, Bm, C, D and Em. and play some short, improvised lines over the top. Listen for the quality of each note over the chord, and especially listen to the first and last notes. Do they sound good / not so good? Remember – a good note is just one place above or below a ‘bad’ note.
Play and focus on just one string at a time as you explore the creative possibilities open to you.
1st string – frets 2, 3 & 5
Pause here and explore what you can do with this string only over each of the drone chords in turn.
2nd string – frets 3 & 5
Pause here and explore what you can do with this pair of string only.
1st and 2nd string.
Explore what you can do with this pair of strings and the five scale notes they contain over each of the drone chords in turn.
3rd string – frets 2, 4 & 5
Pause here and explore what you can do with this string only.
1st, 2nd and 3rd strings.
Explore what you can do with these three strings over each of the drone chords.
4th string – frets 2, 4 & 5
Pause here and explore what you can do with this string only.
1st to 4th string.
Take a lot of time to explore what you can do with these four strings over each of the drone chords.
For now, concentrate on just these four strings - it is more than enough and gives you over one octave of the scale.

If you are still finding it hard to make meaningful note choices, phrases and musical motifs then try this for inspiration.
Start with a short vocal phrase.
Say the words rhythmically (long & short vowel sounds and syllables will mean different phrases can be said with different rhythmic lengths and feel).
Turn that rhythm into an improvised melody by using it to guide the timing of your picking as you play notes from the scale.
1] Look at the sunrise – wow
2] Gimme a hug, I love you
Anything you want as a short statement. Use repetition to make the statement several times, maybe using different notes, altering the emphasis on certain syllables by making the note shorter or longer.
Longer example:
Hello, it’s great to see you
He-lloooo, it’s great to see you
Hello, it’s grrr-eeeat to see y-oouu

Once you are becoming more and more adept at putting together short, musical phrases over a single drone chord, extend yourself to playing over a backing track with chord changes. You will need to be listening and aware of the way that certain notes sound great over certain chords but ‘less good’ over other chords.

I hope that helps.

Cheers :smiley:
| Richard | JustinGuitar Approved Teacher, Official Guide & Moderator


I’m slightly ahead of you in the course, and I can say Justin starts to talk about how to make solos sound decent in Grade 4. In a few of the major scale maestro lessons. Not that mine are decent yet.

But here’s my opinion: most solos are not that great, so don’t expect yours to be awesome for a long time. There are some legendary memorable solos - Comfortably Numb, anyone? But the solos in most songs are just not that memorable, even if they sound good. Even many in legendary songs. The best ones play on the melody or tell a story in the solo IMHO.

I am just venturing into this as well. I haven’t spent a lot of time improvising and soloing as I have devoted efforts elsewhere, but I need to develop this skill soon.

I would listen closely to what Shane and Richard have posted. Before we can “shred” in more than one “box”, we need to understand the notes and how they fit in a single cord and a single box.

I remember a while back when Justin introduced soloing in a scale. It was rudimentary of course and didn’t get into details. You can make some fun sounds, but it was limited because it was really just randomly playing notes in a scale hoping to hear something nice. A great introduction, but if we don’t move past that, it will be limited, random and boring.

What Shane and Richard are on about is starting small and learning how to choose the notes inside the scale that fit with the cord in play and the key in play. Start small, one cord at a time, one or two notes, one box.

Slowly advance. It will be worth the effort I believe, setting a groundwork for choosing notes outside the one box and linking more notes and cords in coherent, rather than random ways. If we jump in to fast to a too complex set of parameters, we won’t really learn a skill, just a pattern.


Got to agree with this, if you can’t create a melody or something that’s ‘interesting’ with one box, you’re not going to do it using more, stick in one box to start with or play just on one string or even better just use one finger ONLY in the box.