How To Play Incredible Guitar Solos Part Four: Create Intense Feeling While Playing Over Any Chord

by Tom Hess

The first step to playing intense, emotional guitar solos is being able to play a single note with tons of emotion. The next step is taking that single note and expanding from it, so that every guitar lick you play sounds extremely emotional.

Note: You will be lost in this article if you have not already read the third part of this series on how to play lead guitar solos. Read it now, if you have not done so.

To increase the emotional intensity in every single lick of your solos, you have to become aware of how each note feels as it is played above a specific chord/chord progression. Every note you use in your solos has a different function while it is played over different chords, so you can change the way a lick feels emotionally by combining different notes together. Here is an illustration of what I mean: if you are using notes A, B and D over a G major chord, each one of these notes functions differently (A as the second, B as the third and D as the fifth). If you were to use a G note in the place of the D note, it would function differently (as the root) and completely change the overall emotional feeling of the lick.

Visualize painting a picture using different colors. As you use one note over a chord, you only experience a certain emotion (this is the function of that note). Then as you combine this note together with several others, it’s like blending many colors together to create a new one. Just by altering one or two notes in a lick, you can cause a massive change in the way the lick feels.

To hear precisely what this sounds like, watch the video below:

To begin implementing this idea into the licks of your guitar solos, play the .mp3 samples below and use the instructions I made for you. Keep in mind that each sample has been recorded for an entire minute in order to make it easier to complete the steps below:

Lick #1 (Hear It)

Lick #2 (Hear It)

Lick #3 (Hear It)

Lick #4 (Hear It)


Step 1 Listen to the .mp3 file above for lick number one and play these chord progression to it:

E minor – A minor – C major – G major -

(Play each chord 5+ times so you can get a good understanding of how each note in the lick feels over it.)

Step 2– Identify how each note in the lick above functions when combined with the chords you just played. Doing this is important for recalling WHY any lick you play feels how it does – giving you the ability to recreate that same feeling in any musical context. This skill is one of the most useful skills to have as a musician… keeping you from becoming the kind of guitarist who wastes time trying to think of a lick that will sound cool over a chord (rather than KNOWING what will sound cool ahead of time).

If you don’t know enough about music theory to understand the above step, study the ideas in this music theory video.

Step3  Complete the first two steps again by playing the chord progression from step one over the remaining licks.

Step4  Go back and repeat the first two steps again. Instead of using the chord progression from step one, play these chord progressions over the licks they specify from above:

Play over guitar lick two: C major – E minor – C major – G minor

Play over guitar lick three: F major – G major – A major – E major

Play over guitar lick four: E minor – C major – G major – F major

Once you have finished the steps above, it will be much easier for you to understand how each note you play changes the overall feeling of your guitar licks. It’s crucial that you continue to pay close attention to the notes you use in your solos, so you can always convey the particular emotions you want – instead of mindlessly playing a bunch of memorized licks/patterns and waiting for something to sound good (like a lot of guitar players do).

It will be easy to play with accurate self-expression in your music, when you learn how to turn normal guitar solo licks into awesome guitar solo licks.

When you have the power to make any note sound incredibly expressive and can control the emotions of each note over specific chords, your guitar solos will become like an extension of your soul – making your playing sound highly creative and unique.

To get additional ideas on for how to write and play emotional guitar solos, read this page with methods for playing guitar with emotion.


About The Author:

Tom Hess is a professional touring musician, recording artist and online guitar teacher who teaches guitarists from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. On his website,, you can get additional free tips about guitar playingguitar playing resources, mini courses and surveys.

The Key Elements Of A Successful Music Career

By Tom Hess

Before you will achieve anything significant in the music industry you must acquire five key elements that all successful musicians possess. Without these elements in place, your chances of becoming successful as a professional musician are slim to none.

The following are the five crucial keys needed for developing a long-term, successful music career:

Music Career Success Key #1 – Stop Worrying About What Seems Possible

All of the most well-known and successful musicians did not achieve their goals by thinking realistically about what seemed possible. On the contrary, they focused their mind like a laser ONLY on what they truly wanted. When you make your goals in line with the things you want most, you will be much more motivated to actually achieve them. More on this in a moment…

Think about this – out of the following choices, which choice would inspire you to put all your time and energy into growing a music career?:

a) Making a recording of a demo with a band and possibly playing a few shows around town.

b) Being the main songwriter for an epic album that sells millions of copies worldwide, then going on tour internationally – playing to massive festivals of fans and making a great living through music, without needing to work a regular job.

Even if you aren’t interested in getting into the music industry to release music, you can still understand my point… Don’t ever accept anything less than what you WANT from a career in music (even if what you want seems like a really big accomplishment). Don’t waste your life pursuing things that you don’t really want. If you set goals for your music career that don’t really inspire you, you won’t be motivated to achieve them and you certainly won’t ever achieve your true musical goals.

All of the great musicians you have ever known, are just normal people like you. They started from humble beginnings – whether it was without a band, having low musical skills or not understanding how the music industry works (as well as countless other situations). Imagine what kind of outcome would have happened for them had they decided that it wasn’t ‘realistic’ to sell records worldwide, tour internationally and build a huge fan base. Well, they didn’t… they chose to pursue BIG goals and this is very fortunate for them (and the music industry as a whole).

Be like them. Start building your music career based only on the goals that motivate you the most!

Music Career Success Key #2 – Manifest Your Musical Dreams Into Reality Before They Actually Are Reality

Musicians who never achieve anything significant in this industry, build paths to their goals by starting from where they are in the present moment.

On the other hand, musicians who achieve great success do something completely different. They plan their music career by beginning from the end point of achieving their goals, and work backwards to the present day. They imagine themselves having already accomplished their major goals, then build their lives around this vision. This is a much more effective way of accurately determining the actions required for putting together your music career. Find out more about this topic by reading this article on achieving your musical goals.

Avoid having to rely on trial-and-error approach in your music career by working with an experienced music industry mentor who can tell you how to build a successful music career.

Music Career Success Key #3 – Sink Or Swim (Choose SWIM!)

Your music career success is dependent on possessing the above two keys. However, simply having ‘goals’ and a plan to reach them is not enough to actually do it. You must ‘take action’ day in and day out until your goals are completed. This might seem like a common sense thing to say, but the truth is, TONS of musicians fail to take action on realizing their musical dreams and never end up doing anything.

Consider this metaphor (I discuss this in depth with the musicians who I mentor for success): You’ve been diagnosed with some kind of illness that requires a critical surgery. If you don’t get this surgery done, you will die in 6 months. On top of that, the surgery costs a huge amount of money (100k+) and you can neither borrow money to pay for it nor get coverage from insurance. So you have one choice: You can do whatever it takes to make the money you need or you can give up and allow yourself to die.

This example is on the extreme end of the spectrum, but it effectively illustrates the type of mindset needed to achieve success in the music industry. Taking consistent action to move your music career forward is different than merely knowing what needs to get done, while waiting around hoping it will magically occur on its own (allowing yourself to ‘die’ in this case).

With this in mind, hard work/consistent action does not necessarily equal music career success, when you don’t know exactly what you should be doing to reach your goals. Get started building a successful career in music with a mentor so you can understand the right actions you should be taking at all times.

Music Career Success Key #4 – Make Sure Your Musical Goals Can Pass The ‘Why’ Test

It’s a fact that everything will not always go according to plan in your music career. It is in the most challenging times that your music career dedication will be put to the test. Examples of this could include:

  • Having to work full time at a job that sucks and having no idea how to quit your non-musical day job and make it in music.
  • Playing at dumpy bars with your band, because you aren’t sure what steps you should take to start playing at bigger, better venues.
  • Working with unmotivated band members who are bringing you (and the entire band) down.
  • Working to record your debut album, but having a difficult time because you never learned how to record cleanly, in as few takes as possible.
  • Not knowing how to get tons of music fans to hear your music.

Here is what you need to do in order to maintain your commitment and dedication to achieving your music career goals:

Take out the piece of paper you have that contains the list of your written goals (that you put together in key #1 above). Then beside each one write down the big REASONS you have for pursuing them. For every musical goal you have, answer this question: “Why do I want to achieve this?” Spend a lot of time thinking about this for each goal before you write down your response, and look over your goals/reasons two times every day.

When you make this a habit, you’ll be able to stay enthusiastic about achieving your musical goals whenever you are faced with any uncertainty or obstacles.

To find out more information on this topic, read this article about planning musical goals.

Music Career Success Key #5 – Don’t Try To Build Your Music Career Blindfolded

Even after you possess all four of the keys described above, you can still fail at building a successful music career. This can happen when you don’t know what to do next, are (subconsciously) sabotaging yourself or are using poor strategies for reaching your musical goals. The final key required for music career success is the training of an experienced music industry mentor.

A true mentor does not merely instruct you on what you should be doing or tell you about the inner workings of the music industry. Instead, a great mentor helps you bring out the strengths you developed through attaining the first four keys and makes sure you are on the right path toward your goals at all times, while keeping you away from the obstacles that many musicians face (that often lead to them to failure). Without this expert guidance, you are trying to make it in the music business with your hands over your eyes and are unable to truly take advantage of your know-how, musical skills and hard work.

Now that you are familiar with all five keys needed for music career success, take the following actions:

1. Focus on getting all the missing keys you do not currently possess.

2. Start music business training right now to begin reaching your musical goals faster than ever before.


About The Author:

Tom Hess is a recording artist, composer and a touring musician. Tom also mentors and coaches musicians worldwide to make it in the music industry. Go to his musician development site to get free music industry advice and learn more about the music industry.

How To Play With Killer Guitar Phrasing – Part One


By Nick Layton

Stop working ONLY on guitar technique! To play guitar solos and improvisations that sound really kickass you must also improve your guitar phrasing. For most guitarists, guitar phrasing is a foreign term… which is really sad. Truth is, playing with great technique does not translate to playing great sounding ‘music’. To begin playing great solos you only need to start with a single note. From there, you can expand to play some truly awesome stuff! Let me explain:

Being great at guitar phrasing means being able to clearly communicate your thoughts and emotions as you play – similar to how you would have a verbal conversation with someone to express yourself. You’ll never get the attention of your listeners by speaking in a monotone voice, and this same concept applies when it comes to your guitar playing as well. You must learn how to use various phrasing nuances to express yourself with only one note if needed, and more notes in other situations. The most important thing to understand about phrasing is HOW you play your notes (not the notes themselves). Here are the three critical guitar phrasing elements that truly great guitarists possess:


Vibrato technique is very personal to the guitarist using it, so it is crucial that you create your own unique playing style with this element. Contrary to what many guitarists think, vibrato requires years of practice to perfect (both technically and stylistically). To get started playing with good vibrato for yourself, think about how you want to hear it played. Listen to how vibrato is used by your favorite guitarists whenever they are playing solos. Then go online and find videos of these guitarists playing live, so you can see how they move their hands to create vibrato. Next, do your best to imitate their style in your playing. Eventually, you will begin developing your own style (as you mix together the different styles of your favorite guitarists). As you work on your vibrato, remember this: There are tons of different ways to play vibrato. For example, neoclassical guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen has a slow and wide vibrato, while blues guitarist B.B. King has a very fast and narrow vibrato. Think about what sounds best to you, and focus on developing that sound within your style. To get started improving your vibrato technique, practice using it while playing over backing tracks or during your favorite songs. If you want to develop your vibrato much more quickly, work together with a good guitar teacher. Additionally, remember to use vibrato on bent and unbent notes.

String Bending:

Every guitar player who has good phrasing skills understands how to use string bends in a highly creative manner. When you are able to put together a solid string bending technique with great vibrato, you will truly start playing creative and expressive guitar phrases. The best part about string bending is there are endless approaches to bending notes. For example, you can bend by 1/2 step, by whole step, by less than 1/2 step (microtonal bends) or use techniques such as ghost bends, vary the speed of your bends and so on.

A great example of a virtuoso guitarist with unique string bending technique is Marty Friedman. Rather than using a conventional approach to bending strings, he often starts his bends from a note that is outside of the key and moves the pitch of that note to where it becomes ‘in key’. This creates a very distinct and exotic sound that is a clear marker for Friedman’s style. Simply put, a creative string bend will make any note stand out to anyone listening.

Additionally, keep these points in mind:

First, you must make sure you are always keeping your bends in tune. If you release your bends a little too flat or sharp it will be very obvious – and it will NOT sound good! This is a very common mistake that most guitar players make. Work together with a guitar teacher who can hear whether you are in tune or not and keep your playing on the right track.

Second, don’t use the same types of bends all the time. Begin by playing half step bends and move on to include various other types, such as ghost bends and varying the rate at which you bend the string. Work to perfect each type with all fingers on your fret hand. Support the finger that is doing the bending with any remaining fingers you have available, to gain better control.

Third, pay close attention to the bends of your favorite players and copy the licks they use to get a feel for their style. Then work with a guitar teacher to get help with applying your bends into a musical context as creatively as possible.


By using ornamentation in your guitar playing, you can make every note massively more creative and interesting for the listener. Ornamentation is the general idea of using techniques to ‘embellish’ a note.

One way to do this is to use a trill. Trills are (generally speaking) rapid alternations between one note and another using hammer ons and pull offs. Trills were commonly used throughout the Classical music era and have also been used in rock music by many guitarists. The main idea here is to add more interest to the way you phrase your notes, so that they are always attention-grabbing. Another way to embellish your notes, is to play artificial harmonics with your pick. A great artificial harmonic can create a screaming effect, causing your notes to sound much higher in pitch. This will make them stand out from the other notes you are playing. Additionally, using your fingers to create natural harmonics over the fretboard can sound very creative (especially when combined with a tremolo bar). There are endless other embellishing techniques that could be discussed – however, these ones are a good start. It’s more important to master a few ideas first, so that you don’t overload yourself with too much information at once.

In this article, you’ve only learned three main elements of great guitar phrasing. In part 2, you will discover additional elements to help you improve your lead guitar playing.

Learn how to apply everything you read in this article by studying this free guitar solo phrasing lesson.

p> About The Author:


Nick Layton is a professional guitarist and guitar instructor. He has also written many guitar phrasing improvement courses.