How to Make Your Solos Sound Musical

Have you ever wondered what it is that makes your favorite guitar players solos sound so great? Are they just magically talented? Or were they just born that way? If you’ve ever thought this way, continue reading.


The answer is no. They actually use an easy, logical, and fundamental way to make their solos sing. Whether that’s over a backing track, with their band, or a cool loop they’ve created. And you can do it, too!


You’ll also be learning how to write guitar solos, melodies, and improvise with intense emotion.


I remember when I first started trying to create my own solos, melodies, and improvise over music with my guitar. I was frustrated, and didn’t understand why I could not make my scales sound like music. That lasted until I started using this really simple technique of targeting the correct notes over my chords.


Want to know how to do this, and start sounding like a guitar pro? Then follow these simple steps.


Step 1: Choose A Scale


In this first step you will choose your scale. You could use a pentatonic scale, mode, or any other scale you’re working on. For example, you could take the C Ionian mode. In this scale you have the notes C-D-E-F-G-A-B.


Play through the scale a few times until you feel comfortable. This could be anywhere from two to ten minutes, depending on how you feel. If you have trouble, or do not have the names of the notes memorized, say them out loud while playing the scale.


Step 2: Choose A Chord Progression


Next you’ll choose a chord progression to play. In the case that you are playing the example C Ionian, you could use chords from the Key of C Major to create a chord progression.


Example: C Major-G Major-A Minor-F Major


Record your chord progression with any recording device, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy.


Step 3: Map Out Target Notes


Next you’ll use the technique that will make you sound like a total guitar pro. You will be “mapping” your target notes of the chords you’re playing.


What you will do is choose a note from each chord inside of your scale.



C Major=C-E-G / G Major=G-B-D / A Minor=A-C-E / F Major=F-A-C


The bold letters will be your target notes. To map them out you determine which C-G-A-F you will play inside of your C Ionian.



C on your tenth fret of your D string.

G on your twelfth fret of your G String

A on your tenth fret of your B String

F on your thirteenth fret of your high E String


Next you’ll practice walking up and down the scale, stopping on the correct note over the chord as it passes. 


Take your time with this. It will start to sound musical, but we will not stop here. In the next step you’ll make it sound extremely musical, and understand how your favorite artists are making their solos too.


Step 4: Apply Phrasing Elements


Now you’ve determined and mapped out the notes you’ll be playing inside of your scale over your backing track. Once you understand and feel comfortable playing them and stopping on them over the chord, it’s time to make them sing.


Using phrasing techniques is one cool way to make your guitar solos sound more musical.


Some examples:

  • Slide into the note from below
  • Slide into the note from above
  • Slide from the note to another note back into it
  • Bend into the note
  • Vibrato the note
  • Use your whammy bar over the note


You can even combine them together, and that sounds really cool!


Now you’re making music


As long as you followed these steps, you can clearly see how cool this sounds, and how much more musical you can become. No matter what level of a player you are, you can make this exercise as interesting as you want.



About the author: Jaromy Tagg teaches guitar lessons at A-Sharp Guitar Instruction in Richland, WA.

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