ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Learn and Play Basic Guitar Solo's (Pentatonic Scale)

Updated on March 26, 2015

Guitar solo's are what most people imagine when the think of someone playing guitar, they are generally much better remembered than the parts played by a rhythm guitarist. Thus it's understandable why most people when learning guitar want to become good at the fast fiddly stuff.

Guitar solo's are very impressive, and some of which are also very difficult and technical. However lots of the most famous riffs are actually based of very simple musical theory, and surprisingly easy to learn. This is why you hear most beginner players playing the riff from "Sweet Child of Mine".

Pentatonic Scale

If you are going to learn a single scale/piece of music theory then the pentatonic scale is probably the most important. Almost every single popular solo is based off it to a certain extent, and many famous solo's are completely based off it. There are 5 shapes of the scale, all of which are useful to know, however by far the most common form is the E Shape and that I what I will focus on below.

Bellow is a diagram of the E Shape pentatonic scale from the 7th Fret, the scale can be moved to start from any other odd numbered fret. The scale is played in the order as stated by the numbers, with your index finger on the 7th fret, Ring finger 9th and Pinky/little finger on the 10th fret.

On its own the pentatonic scale isn't very impressive. However if you just start playing around and mixing up the order, changing direction in different places then it is easy to create a really fun and good sounding riff, add in a couple of bends and you have almost created a solo. Shredding is even more simple, a lot of the time it is just playing the scale very quickly (there is more to it, however playing the scale quickly is the basis.).

A good exercise when practicing guitar is to do the pentatonic scale up and down the full fretboard, once you have done it in one position move it up 2 frets and do it again. When you can do this quickly, start modifying it so you find it a challenge again, for example doing two strokes on each note thus improving your picking speed. You should always be looking to be challenging yourself because that is the only way to improve.

Chord Solo's

A second type of solo that is more rarely used however still used on some well known songs is playing the notes of a chord individually. Because the individual notes are all part of the same chord they compliment each other nicely. This style avoids you having to make many quick movements with your hand and thus allowing you to hold notes for longer and let each note ring out over the previous one.

A really good example of this type of playing is the introduction to America by Razorlight where the C chord is used in on the 7th and 9th frets (with a capo). This is also useful because of the reduced complexity where you don't have to move your hands thus it is easier for a guitarist to sing whilst playing a part like this.

Imagine solo's are like a singers voice

When you are playing and writing solo's keep in the back of your mind to try to play your guitar as if it's a voice. The way you combine quick flicks of notes and longer holds and bends should be easily compared to a singers voice, solos like this sound very flowing and natural. A very good example of this is Layla by Eric Claptonm, notice how his riffs combine very nicely with his vocals.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)