Tag: Guitar Solo

Jump Blues Solo in C

Jump Blues Solo in the key of C, in the style of Duke Robillard, JP Soars, Charlie Christian, and others. Download the tabs or jam along with the backing track. Enjoy!

Start of the solo

After a classic turnaround introduction, the guitar solo starts with a quintessential jump blues lick. I play two choruses of 12 bars, emphasizing chord tones and paying attention to the swinging groove of this uptempo jump blues song in the key of C. 

Featured lick

In the 3d chorus, the groove breaks up with the drum playing accents on the first beats of every bar. The lead guitar keeps jumping; however, with a part that is somewhat inspired by the playing of the great Charlie Christian on Stompin’ At The Savoy. 

Jump Blues Lick
Jump Blues Lick

The circled ‘1’ on the chart indicates a position switch with the left hand. 


When the band enters again, the solo guitar plays hints of Rockabilly before entering the outro that is inspired by the playing of ‘red hot’ JP Soars and  ‘the Duke,’ Duke Robillard. After three turnarounds, the solo ends on another classic outro lick (covered in this post).

Backing track

Jump Blues (12-bar blues in C) backing track here.

5 Tips To Write Better Guitar Solos (Inspiration List #1)

Writing a guitar solo is an inherently creative process that does not abide by strict rules. That being said, it still helps to choose a few concepts (‘ground rules’) or basic ideas before you start writing a guitar solo. Here’s an inspiration list of 5 (with examples). Clicking on the image will lead you to the youtube video. Let me know if there’s one that made your guitar solo better!

TIP 1 | 'Wait For It' ... (a.k.a. Don't Start On Beat 1)

I know you can’t wait to play that guitar solo. “The band only gave you eight bars to do your thing.” But try waiting a beat before you engage! This helps to weave your solo into the groove of the song. The effect can be significant! The late J.J. Cale was a master at this.

Writing Better Guitar Solos Tip 1
Writing Better Guitar Solos Tip #1

The example above is bar 3 from my Intense Melodic Solo in A minor. When the solo starts, I skip the first beat. There’s nothing as powerful as a little bit of unexpected silence!

TIP 2 | Repeat In Octaves

A great lick is worth repeating! But instead of repeating it identically, play it an octave higher the second time. This adds energy to your guitar solo and gives the audience the sense that you really know what you’re doing 😉

Writing Better Guitar Solos Tip 2
Writing Better Guitar Solos Tip #2

The example above is bar 12 and 13 from my Emotional Guitar Solo. Part of the pickup lick is repeated an octave higher the second time . This helps to develop this melodic motif. Although you hear this a lot in horn players’ solos, this lick is mostly inspired by Pete Thorn‘s playing.

TIP 3 | Play A Pedal Tone Lick

Everybody loves a pedal tone lick! This concept stems from classical music (e.g., Bach) and translates beautifully to guitar. The basic idea is to develop a lick or motif, while continuing to reference a bass note (=pedal), mostly the tonic.

Writing Better Guitar Solos Tip 3
Writing Better Guitar Solos Tip #3

This blues lick comes from bars 11-12 of my Blues guitar solo in E. It’s an idea you will find in Josh Smith‘s playing for example. There another (heavier) pedal tone lick at the end of my Western Guitar Solo.

TIP 4 | Target The Third

When writing a solo, playing chord tones will embolden your solo and lock it to the underlying harmony. Especially the third of a chord has a strong ‘color’ to the ear of the listener. 

Writing Better Guitar Solos Tip 4
Writing Better Guitar Solos Tip #4

In bar 28 of my Blues Rock Solo in D, I drop the melody to the F#, the major third of the D-chord. Strangely, I got this idea from Chris Isaak‘s ‘Wicked Game’. In the last bar of his melody, he lands on the B, the major 3d of the E chord. The feeling of resolve is enormously powerful!

TIP 5 | Start with a 5th interval

I remember exactly where I was when I heard the guitar solo to Dream Theater‘s ‘Breaking All Illusions’ for the first time. I thought what a fantastic interval is John Petrucci playing? It was a fifth! Starting with a 5th interval (perfect fifth) is a great way of capturing the ear of the listener.

Writing Better Guitar Solos Tip 5
Writing Better Guitar Solos Tip #5

At the start of my 80s rock solo (after a pickup), I play a perfect fifth in bar 1. But don’t overdo these big intervals. Big intervals are best followed by smaller ones to stay melodic.

Intense Melodic Rock Solo in A minor

Intense Melodic Rock Solo in A minor, that complements my intense rock ballad backing track (Rain Jam). Download the tab here:

Play Video
The idea

A few weeks ago, one of my YouTube followers left a comment on my channel about wanting the next solo video to be about a ‘sad ballad.’ My latest video at that time was the Sunset solo, a slow ballad in a major key and with quite an uplifting chorus. I thought it would be a challenge for me (being an optimist) to write an emotional and melodic guitar solo in a minor key. Certain emotions are better transferrable in a minor key. For the occasion, I wrote an intense rock ballad backing track, called ‘Rain Jam’ in A minor.

About the solo

After the publication of the backing track, I started writing this intense melodic rock solo. After a short acoustic intro, the A-section (verse) follows a dreamy chord progression in the key of A minor (with the occasional G-chord).  To translate the emotional element, I focus on the notes of the A Aeolian mode, chord tones (thirds), and the friction of string bends and suspensions (like the 9th). Similar to earlier solos, I balance longer notes (with vibrato) with faster licks. There are a few shred licks in the guitar solo because this also helps to discharge melodic tension. Look at these shred licks as a way of releasing feelings of agitation.

The B-section chorus moves the melody up the octave to intensify the emotional component of this guitar solo. The second chorus brings a new theme to drive this story home. The guitar solo ends with a melody in octaves. 

Featured Lick
Octaves Melody Guitar Solo
Melodic Octaves In A Guitar Solo

Near the end of an intense solo, I like to switch to octaves, because it is one of the few options you have at that point to increase the energy. (Other options are playing double stops or harmonizing). The cool thing about octaves is they created a sustained, but rhythmic wall of sound. In the intense melodic solo video, I follow the steps of the A minor scale, but in bar 34, I move to the G# (the third of E7 or natural seventh of Am). This note is hugely expressive and captures the attention of the listener immediately. Some people might consider this a cliché, but cliches work in the right places, is it not?  😉

Gear used

GEAR: Suhr Guitars / Suhr Modern Pro HH with Floyd Rose (all solos) Martin HD-16R Acoustic (intro)  All guitars played by Maarten Bass: Spectrasonics Trilian Drums: Steven Slate 5.5 Recorded with Logic Pro X

I hope you enjoyed this emotional ballad solo and tab sheet music, 

I dedicate this video to Alepsis Cruz as a thank you for inspiring me,

Cheers, Maarten 

Emotional Ballad Guitar Solo in E

Emotional ballad guitar solo (with guitar tabs) for the original jam track (‘Sunset Jam’) I posted earlier. Enjoy!

Play Video
About the track

After a short acoustic intro, the A-section (verse) follows a gorgeous chord progression in the key of E major. I play in the split coil position of the Suhr Modern. The bluesy guitar licks follow the groove of the emotional ballad backing track and leave room for the other instruments.

The B-section opens with a distant slide guitar, warm piano sounds, and acoustic guitar harmonics. The lead guitar switches to the bridge humbucker, and starts building up the melody into a higher register.

After an alternate picking riff, the C-section (chorus) presents itself with long, high notes. Here I’m thinking about the D major pentatonic. The D-chord in the chorus (bVII) implies a modulation to A major, thus bringing some Lydian flavor into the game. Mixing this part turned out the be a challenge because of the high pitch of the lead guitar. With extra delay (Soundtoys Echoboy) reverb (Exponential Audio Nimbus) and a hint of extra compression (Waves CLA Guitars), the guitar notes sustain longer to carry the melody over the chords.

Featured Lick (Bar 25)
Ascending Shred Lick
Ascending Shred Lick (B Mixolydian + Chromatic)

Ascending shred licks are a great way of connecting melodies between verses and choruses. In the emotional ballad guitar solo video, I use this technique in bar 25 to lead the listener’s ear from the bride (B-section) to the chorus (C-section). The lick starts on B and ends on E in the first beat of the next bar. In between is a B Mixolydian permutation (pattern of 3 sextuplets), followed by two triplets of sixteenth chromatic notes. Pro Tip: use the chromatic scale sparsely in your playing and save it until the very end of a bar.

Featured Plug-In

I highly recommend the Flux Stereo Tool v3 Plugin (freeware). I use it on summing tracks, the mix-bus, and FX-bus to build, check, and (if necessary) correct the stereo image. This plugin proves that the most straightforward tools sometimes turn out to be the most useful. One of my most used plugins. And did I tell you it was free?

Flux Stereo Tool v3
Flux Stereo Tool v3 On My Sunset Solo
Backing Track
Check out the SUNSET JAM Emotional Ballad backing track here.

Suhr Modern HH with Floyd Rose (all solos)
Martin HD-16R Acoustic (intro)
All guitars played by Maarten
Bass: Spectrasonics Trilian
Drums: Steven Slate 5.5
Recorded with Logic Pro X

Check out some of my other ballad solo's