Watch the What Makes A Great Solo online guitar lesson by David Grissom from Open Road Guitar
What makes a great solo? To me a great solo is somewhat of a conversation, meditation, and metaphorically speaking a plea to get my point across. I think the most important parts of a solo are the beginning and the ending. I try to enter a solo by getting your attention then have a real logical build throughout. How I end is just as important as how I began it. I'm at the point now where trying to think what I'm soloing but I did have to go through a long period of being conscious of how I build the solos. Analyzing what worked and what did not. One thing that I would say is the most important thing is playing gigs. That wisdom was once passed on to me when I was about 18 years old and I met Pat Matheny. I was really taken with his whole approach with the guitar and we're both from the Midwest. I was convinced that there were some secrets that he had that would unlock the key to play like him. So I kind of followed him around probably a bit too much asking him questions and he finally turned around to me and said "man, just play gigs." And that was it, and I thought that's all you're going to tell me? Now I realize he was exactly right. One gig is worth a month in the practice room. Things I learned at a gig are so intangible and you can't learn them unless you get out there and get into the situation when you're interacting with other people and audiences. I've learned that on the nights that I thought I nailed the greatest solo on a tune ever, I'd come back the next night and take the same approach and realize it was never as good. What that taught me is that every night and situation is different and it never worked for me to try to re-create something that worked amazingly well the night before. That was a different night, the energy of the room was different, the humidity was different, everything was different. So I try to empty my mind out before I take a solo and play what wants to be played. Like an empty canvas. My advice to you is to gig as much as possible, if you can't then get together and play with as many people as you can. Also do not be afraid to try to find your own voice.