How To Play Badass Guitar Solos Part 3: Expressing Emotions In Your Solos

By Tom Hess

If you are like most guitarists, you don’t know how to play emotional guitar solos. Fortunately, it’s easier to do than you think. Let’s test your current knowledge…

Choose one pair of notes that has the most similar ‘feeling’ to one another:

Pair #1: a C major chord in the rhythm with a G note being played over it in the lead – immediately followed with an E minor chord and a G note played in the lead.

Pair #2: a D major chord in the rhythm with an A note being played over it in the lead – immediately followed with an G major chord and a D note played in the lead.

If you are like many guitarists, you answered the first pair as the one that sounds most similar. However, this answer is way off! Here is why this answer is wrong:

Pair #1 has a G note being played over both the E minor and C major chords. Although the same pitch (G) is being used, this pitch does NOT sound/feel the same when played over each chord. The reason why is the G note is functioning differently: It functions as the fifth over C major and the third over E minor. The fifth and the third sound completely different.

On the other hand, the A and D notes in pair two actually ‘feel’ exactly the same (in spite of being different pitches). This is because they are both fifths – A is the 5th of a D major chord and D is the fifth of the G major chord.

To hear tons of examples of this, so you can fully understand this concept, check out the video below:

How To Quickly Make Your Guitar Solos Sound More Emotional Using This Concept

First, download the .mp3 file below. This .mp3 is simply made of a single note (E) that is played continuously for four minutes. Use this file to complete the steps below:

Click this link to play the audio sample

First Step: Allow the E note backing track to continue playing while you play these chords on top of it (let each chord sustain for 5-10 seconds): B major, F major, F# minor, F# major, E major, E minor, A major, A minor, C# minor, C major, D major, D minor. Imagine this like playing a single note guitar solo above every chord.

Second Step: If you already know how to build chords, you understand that the E note has an entirely different function when played above each chord from the first step. The next step is to figure out the function of the pitch as it is played over each chord. Here is an example: If you notice that you like the way an E note sounds while being played over a C# minor chord and you know that it is functioning as a ‘third’, you will recognize a third whenever you hear it being played over any minor chord. As you found out by watching the video above, the function of a note will always feel/sound the same no matter which note or chord you are using.

With this in mind, it is important to learn how to recognize the sound of other note functions as well (not just your favorites). However, you should begin by identifying the ones you like first, then expand and learn the others.

If you aren’t familiar with chord construction, do this:

  • Pay very close attention to how the E note above ‘feels’ when it is played over the different chords from the first step. After you learn more about music theory, you will be able to understand more about why each chord creates a totally separate feeling over the same note. This will help you apply the information so that you can create emotional guitar solos any time you pick up your instrument. For now, simply get accustomed to the different feelings that occur when the E note is played over each chord change.
  • Study with a great guitar teacher to learn more about music and quickly reach your guitar playing goals.

Third Step: Clearly identify the particular emotions that are created from each pitch function from above. Simply identify the emotions YOU feel – don’t worry about whether or not you have identified the ‘correct’ emotion. Start by asking yourself how it feels when a third, fifth, root, etc. is played over a certain chord (minor or major). This step is critical as it will help you memorize the unique sound/feeling of each function. This is essential for being able to play emotional guitar solos.

Once you have taken the steps above and have a solid grasp on the ‘feeling’ of each note function, begin seeking new ways to apply this idea into your guitar soloing. One exercise you can use to do this is to analyze the notes in the chords of the backing tracks you usually play over. Identify which note goes with which chord and find out what notes the chords have in common.

For example, imagine that this is the chord progression in your favorite backing track: E major, C# minor and G# minor. The E note is present in both the E major and C# minor chords. E functions as a root in E major and a third in C# minor. In addition, the G# note functions as a root over G# minor and a fifth over C# minor. If you were to solo above these chords, it would be to your advantage to use the common tones in each chord (as tools for easily changing the emotion being expressed). One way this is done is to sustain the shared notes over the chord change. This will instantly surprise anyone listening by generating a completely different emotion as the note is changing its function.

Of course, you should not ‘always’ be using this method in your solos. Doing this all the time will cause your soloing to become predictable and stale.

Although the concept you learned in this article IS very powerful and will help you improve the quality of your guitar solos… it is only the beginning! If you really want to become a killer lead guitar player, you must master the ability to make your listeners ‘feel’ exactly how you want them to feel with every note you play. Learn how by reading this page about creating intense emotion in your guitar playing.



About The Author:
Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, songwriter and a pro guitarist. He uses the best online guitar lessons to train guitar players to reach their musical goals. Go to to get more guitar playing resourcesguitar playing eBooks, and to read more guitar playing articles.

Why You Struggle To Attract Guitar Students In The Summer

by Tom Hess

You’re probably aware of how there are much less student inquiries during the summer than any other season. In most cases, guitar teachers have no solutions for this issue, leading to an added struggle tomake good money teaching guitar. With this in mind, just because there are less inquiries, does NOT mean you can’t get tons of students in the summer!

There are several reasons why guitar teachers can’t keep students during the summer. Here are these reasons and what you must do to not only ‘get’ students but grow your guitar teaching business as a whole:

Reason 1: Not Enforcing A STRONG Guitar Teaching Policy

Having a weak guitar teaching policy is a huge mistake for your guitar teaching business. Without one in place, your student base will quickly deteriorate because they will have the power to walk all over you, stop taking lessons without notice or take time off (without paying you for it). The most common teaching policy that leads to these things is a policy that lets people pay lesson-by-lesson. This kind of lesson policy leaves the door open for students to reschedule when they feel like it, arrive late, not pay on time and (in the summer) go on vacation for months at a time.

Truly successful guitar teachers charge their students per month, NOT per lesson. And if you want to get paid on time and not get taken advantage of… you should too! In addition, you don’t need to accept it as a loss when your students leave for summer vacation. To get ready for this situation, think of creative ways to train your students when they are unable to meet with you in person for a lesson. Discover tons of ways you can do this by checking out this free resource about earning a ton of money teaching guitar.

Reason 2: Giving Up On Even ‘Trying’ To Promote Your Guitar Teaching Business During The Summer Months

Because most guitar teachers understand that there are less student inquiries in the summer, they often give up on their promotional efforts during this time. This opens the door for you to market yourself to all the students that everyone else is ignoring. There are always students seeking teachers regardless of the time of year (even if there are ‘less’ in the summer). By being one of the only teachers to increase marketing efforts in the summer, you will effectively raise the percentage of students you are able to attract. This will essentially transform the summer months from your ‘worst’ time for attracting students to your ‘best’.

Reason 3: Not Having Good Promotional Ability To Begin With

In the other articles I released on how to teach guitar lessons, I discussed why most guitar teachers are completely unaware of how to promote their business. This prevents them from making a lot more money and helping their students in a much greater capacity. When you are unable to promote your guitar lessons very well, you will struggle even more during the summertime when you are being contacted by less people. This will make it extremely hard to sustain your guitar teaching business for a long period of time.

To make sure you keep your guitar students during the summer, work together with an experienced guitar teacher coach who will show you how to keep and attract students year round.

Reason 4: Not Telling Your Guitar Students In Advance About The Value Of Taking Lessons In The Summer

Guitar students generally have a host of non-guitar activities that they want to participate in during the summer. As their guitar instructor, you must help them understand why guitar is so much more important than all those other things. You must help them realize:

A) The specific reasons why getting better at guitar is more valuable for them than any recreational activity they could be doing.

B) How important it is to continue learning guitar in the summer so that they do not ‘lose’ all the skills they gained, only to have to relearn everything again in the fall (costing them tons of additional time and money in the process). This is the same thing that happens every year for your students who go to public school, so they can understand this concept clearly (and know that you make a good point when you explain it to them).

C) How taking lessons with you during the summer will be a very unique experience that they MUST be a part of. Here is one way (of many) you can give them this realization:

Create a unique event that only takes place in the summer months. For instance, you can create a lead guitar technique mastery program, hold live performance coaching or even host a road trip for your students to go see a cool band. Then you can show them how to play guitar like the guitarist in the band (as a standalone program). The creative ideas you can think of are boundless – promote these events well in advance and your students will be ‘pumped’ when the summertime finally comes around.

[Notice: The worst thing you could do is ‘reduce’ your lesson rates to try to keep your students - THIS is exactly how most guitar teachers lose their students during the summer because the students perceive guitar lessons to be of lesser value than the other fun things they could be doing.]

Now you know how to retain your students for the summer, learn how to get more guitar students during any season.


About The Author:

Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and the guitar player. He helps people from all over the world learn how to teach guitar. Visit his website to get free guitar teacher resources and to read more guitar teaching articles.

Create New Guitar Licks By Changing The Rhythm Of The Old Ones

Tommaso Zillio


Do you always us the same few phrases and tricks in your playing? And despite your efforts to learn new things, your music seems to be the same? Here is why you might be unable to use in real life what you learned in your practice.

The problem that most people have when they try to apply their “exercises” in actual songs is that they simply try to play the exercise on the song as they learned it. And they quickly discover that the exercises does not “feel” right, does not “groove” with the song. What is happening here? This: they learned the exercise, but they have not mastered the possible rhythm variations of the exercise.

Rhythm is what I call an “invisible area” of musicianship: it’s something that everybody thinks should be “natural” and able to “feel”. As a result, most people either do not practice their rhythm, or they don’t practice it enough, or in the right way. Fact is, with just a little effort you would be able to be so much more flexible in your rhythm skills that you would be able to “adapt” most licks to most song, on the spot.

What can be done about it? Well, the very first thing is to learn how to manipulate rhythm by displacing the accents in a phrase (whoa, that was a mouthful). This allows you to do two important things:

•     It makes “old” like sound “new” because now their rhythm is different, and

•     It helps you “fitting” the exercises you know into songs that may have a different rhythm.

Now, I could explain how to do that forever, but I think that the best way to learn it is by a direct and simple example, so you can HEAR what I am doing. If you play the video below I will show you a very simple example and some suggestions on how to apply this to everything you do. It’s so simple and you will use it so often that you will wonder how could you live without it. :-)

After watching the video, it is your turn to take your licks and change their rhythm as shown in the video. this system will work beautifully also (and especially) with the licks that you think you play “too much”. If there is a lick that you don’t want to play because you have played it too many times, this procedure will make it fresh and new.

You don’t need to know thousands of licks: you need to know just a few of them and then master all their variations: this way you will sound with a coherent style and it will be much easier for you to improvise and write your solos.


About the Author

A professional guitarist, teacher, and composer, Tommaso Zillio enjoys particularly writing about music theory and its application to guitar playing

How To Develop Faster Guitar Speed – Pt. 5: Why Conventional Speed Building Advice Fails

By Tom Hess

Most guitar players commit huge errors that keep them from becoming faster. These errors often include the following:

1.As they try to train for higher speeds, a lot of guitarist spend a big percentage of their practice time on ‘slow’ practice (usually after being advised to do so by a guitar teacher). They believe that by practicing slow all the time (and being able to do it perfectly) they will increase their max speed. It’s no wonder that guitar teachers who teach this approach to their students never end up with guitar students who play fast.

2.Some guitarists only want to play fast because they feel impatient while practicing slowly. This leads them to ‘try to play as fast as possible’ every chance they get. They believe that working on increasing their top speed every day will eventually help them play faster.

99% of the time, these two approaches will NOT build serious speed. This is because both methods suffer from significant problems that are never addressed (by almost all guitar teachers). Additionally, spending too much practice time playing exclusively fast/slow causes big problems in your technique (even if you are unaware of it). To effectively build speed on guitar, you have to fully know ‘when’ and ‘how’ to use BOTH practicing styles together to make up for the shortcomings of the opposite approach.

Now you will learn why you will not increase your guitar speed by always playing ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ and which approaches you should be taking instead:

Why You Won’t Become A Faster Guitarist By Always Practicing At Slow Speeds

Reason 1:You Take On Poor Playing Habits That Keep Your From Becoming A Faster Player

When you are only practicing guitar slowly, you are prone to forming bad habits by using extended, inefficient movements that are entirely different than the movements used while playing quickly. When you have more time between each note, it is hard to notice inefficiency in the movements of your hands (because you can still play the notes right since you are playing so slowly). Then whenever you play at faster speeds, you try to implement the same inefficient movements into your playing and everything falls apart.

Here are two very common examples of this that I see while helping my newer students become better players:

  • They try to pick each ‘individual’ string within a sweep picking arpeggio pattern instead of using a single sweeping motion to move across all strings simultaneously
  • They play 3 note per string scale patterns with continuous alternate picking technique. This involves excessive and unnecessary picking motion, leading to slower playing and general sloppiness. Watch this video about learning how toplay guitar fast and learn more about this issue so you can fix it.

Reason 2:You Don’t Understand What Is Keeping You From Playing Faster

In order for slow guitar practice to make you a faster player, you need to understand the problems (inefficient movements, lack of two hand coordination, etc.) that are currently getting in the way of you becoming faster. Until you pinpoint these things, your time spent practicing slowly will just be a waste of time. You’ll merely be guessing about what you should be working on – making extremely slow progress at best. In order for you to truly KNOW what to fix, you need to spend some time playing at higher speeds and observing when/why any mistakes happen. Only after you’ve done this should you begin practicing ‘slow’.

Trying to practice slowly without knowing exactly what you should be fixing is like running across a balance beam with your eyes closed and your hands tied behind your back while trying to maintain your balance. Open your eyes and untie your hands by learning what you need to work on to build speed BEFORE practicing slowly.

Learn more about this process by reading the fourth installment in this article series about developing guitar speed.

Reason 3:You Can’t Mentally Process Notes At Faster Speeds By Playing Slow All Of The Time

To play guitar at the highest possible speed, you have to posses the ability to comprehend notes at the same tempo (or faster) that you are playing on. If you never practice at fast speeds, you will never improve your ability to mentally comprehend the notes in a way that is necessary to play cleanly at higher tempos. This will result in sloppy playing at higher speeds and a lack of ability to follow the tempo in faster music.

To keep this problem from affecting your playing, you must train yourself mentally to process the notes at faster speeds. Train yourself to do this by studying the information in this free guitar speed training mini course.

Why ‘Always’ Playing At Your Highest Speed (With Less Than Perfect Precision) Will Damage Your Ability To Play Fast

Now you understand why practicing guitar slowly all the time will not help you become a faster player. However, it’s just as ineffective to exclusively play at fast speeds (when you haven’t fully mastered what you are playing yet). Here’s why:

Reason 1:You Increase The Chances Of Wrist/Arm Injury

A major drawback to playing fast with mistakes is the injuries that can occur from poor, under-developed playing technique. Poor playing technique comes from not learning how to play efficiently/correctly at slower speeds so that you don’t use excessive force or movement at higher speeds. This is serious: I’ve seen many guitarists hurt themselves from continuous playing at high speeds – resulting in many months of recovery time away from guitar.

To avoid this, stay alert of ‘where’ and ‘how much’ tension is being used in your body as you play faster (you can only notice this during fast guitar practice). Once you spot unnecessary tension being used in your body, start playing again at a slow speed while only using as much tension as you need to sound the notes. Once you’ve done this, increase the speed again while using optimal tension.

Notice: If you begin feeling pain while you are playing, STOP! Take a break for the day and come back to playing another day when you can play without any discomfort.

Reason 2:Your Guitar Playing Becomes Sloppy

By exclusively playing fast, you will not be able to mentally process notes just like exclusively playing slow will keep you from being able to process notes at faster speeds. This applies specifically when you are playing at faster speeds for a long time while making numerous errors. This causes you to ‘tune out’ the mistakes you are making and accept them as a normal part of your playing. In other words, you train yourself to become a sloppy player! I frequently see this happen when new guitar students approach me for help. The first step I take to help them build their playing speed is pointing out the errors in their playing that occur at fast speeds. Next I train them to become aware of these errors so they can fix them on their own. This is a big reason why a lot of my students quickly go on to become really good guitar players.

To make sure you don’t become a sloppy player, focus your practice time on creating a balance between playing slowly with perfect accuracy and playing fast to master the skills that only faster practicing can build. Learn many strategies for this by checking out part one of this guitar speed development article series and part 2 to learn an effective guitar speed training method.

Now you know the main issues that occur while practicing with conventional guitar speed building approaches, check out this video to see how you can implement the advice in this article to become a faster overall player while improving your sweep picking:

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Watch the second half of this video about how to play sweep picking arpeggios.


About The Author:

Tom Hess is an online electric guitar teacher, recording artist and virtuoso guitarist. He trains guitar players from around the world how to reach their musical goals in his correspondence guitar lessons online. Visit his website to receive many free guitar playing resources, mini courses, guitar practice eBooks, and to read more articles about guitar playing.