It is great to sit down learn a song through and through. Nowadays, I start with the chords, maybe a bit of the baseline, and then I get more in depth with the nuances of how the guitar bits are played, as well as adding the vocals to it. I even get into the drum beats (I can actually play a bit of drums myself). Then it comes to the creme de la creme--the solo. I take my time, listen, even pull up the tab, I start chipping away at it, brick by brick...and then I think to myself...WHY DON'T I JUST IMPROVISE?
I try not to. I really try to resist letting my fingers fly on their own accord, but being able to smug together my own solo on the fly cuts away from taking the time to actually learn it. I have learned solos in the past, but it's time consuming so I've become a strong believe in improvised solos.
At the root of it, yes there is some laziness, but it is also a challenge, albeit, a really fun challenge. I love matching the chord progression and general energy of the song, and creating something completely unique. This goes for my covers I enjoy playing and my own songs that I create.
When I am writing my own songs, I do tend to get some general ideas of what I like the solo to sound like, and sometimes I do write specific parts, merely because I happened to like the way it sounded and I think it fit really well with the song. However, for the most part, I rarely write my solos down, and I rarely commit to one. It's just too much fun improvising!
Here are the solos I can think of that I learned, I remember some of them, some of them I only remember bits of, and other I've completely forgot in all honesty.
- "Fade to Black" by Metallica
I only know the intro solo, it's one of my favorite solos, I still remember this one...I think
- "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osborne
Ahhhh...what young guitarist hasn't fallen in love with Randy Rhoads awesome "Crazy Train" riff, not to mention that the solo is extremely fun and interesting. This one is one that I have completely forgotten unfortunately.
- "One" by Metallica
I find it funny that in a way that I ended up learning this solo, not because it's a bad solo or anything. I can remember at the time of my more broodish teenage years that the slow serenade at the beginning of the song helped me drifted away from my angst. The aggressive tail end of the song let me release whatever rage was left inside of me, all of the fun tapping at the end of the song was really appealing to me as well. Generally, as a guitarist I tend not to tap a whole lot, but when I do...I flip people off (because I keep my pick in my hand and use my middle finger to tap). I've actually learned this solo at least 3 times, it gets easier every time I have to re-learn it though. I can say with great confidence right now, that I would completely blank on how to play the lead on this one!
- "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses
This is my band. For a long long long time, this was my song. Slash's solos, were my solos. I've learned so many songs, and a lot of techniques and ways to play from Slash. This was the first song I learned in its entirety including all of the solos. Every lead part is something to fall in love with, and the story behind the intro, that it was just some carnival riff Slash used for practice, makes the song better somehow. As I said, I learned a lot from this song in general, definitely the beauty in creating a repeated melody. That being said, I can remember some of the more repetitive parts, and I definitely know bits and pieces of the main solo...but I can't play the whole thing without taking a crack at improvising to fill in the blanks.
- "Estranged" by Guns N' Roses
So I have 2 Metallica, 1 Randy Rhoads, and this will be my 2nd GNR one. I am a Use Your Illusions II fan more than Use Your Illusions I. Both are fantastic albums, but II has this epic piece "Estranged", and to top it off, the video for the song cost $4,000,000! Okay, that has nothing to do with the solo. The first half of the song has a constant lead part that has so much feeling, so many great bends! The main solos in the second part of the song have a great explosive energy. The whole song, the way it comes together just has a fantastic mood. And again, all of my love for this song, and Guns N' Roses, I don't think I could play the solos without a good bit of practice first! But this would definitely be song I would want to learn all of the solos for, if I were to play it, or else you are just missing a crucial piece of the track.
I'll have to talk about more solos another time! I've left you with 5 that I really enjoyed learning and playing, but there are some others that I'll have to share in the future.
Take it easy,