Watch the Strategy 2: Work the Style online guitar lesson by Jon Herington from Ear IQ: Soloing Strategies
So, let's look at some details. The first thing I notice is how I created a melody which is almost always playing chord tones on the downbeats of each chord change. Over the years, I've looked at a lot of melodies to songs, and I think I've kind of internalized a lot of the typical things melodies do. Thirds and fifths of the sounding chord in the beginning and in the body of the song, and the root at the very end are unbelievably common and consistent in so much of the music we play and listen to. I encourage you to listen to songs and stop and look at what the melodies are doing in relation to the chord changes, there's a lot to learn there.
Right away, there's the E on the downbeat of the C# minor chord, the third, and then the C# on the downbeat of the A chord in the next bar. It happens again with the G# on the E chord, and again a bar later with the sixths. I think it's worth spending a bit of time examining effective solos and melodies for this kind of thing - we're basically looking to learn what are the "money notes" when we play - which notes are going to give us the most bang for the buck, so to speak.
Continuing, we get the chord tones with the hammer on and open string stuff on the A and the A/B chords, a big 5th on the downbeat of the E chord, the frilly little thing that outlines the E chord some more, with more of those characteristic left hand techniques, then another 3rd on the downbeat of the next bar. Then on the second time those A and A/B chords happen, I played a variation on the vocal melody of the song where I bend up to the melody note on the downbeat from the note below it in the key. It gives it a kind of striking sound, it's a kind of tension and release game that I like.
A few bars later, I tried a sort of opposite idea - again using the open strings, pretty handy in this key, of course, I played that quick line which starts with the C#, a step higher than the chord tone B, then resolves down to that B, and again the F#, a step higher than the chord tone E, and then the resolution down to the E and some more chord tones.
After more thirds and fifths on the downbeats, I end the solo on the root, with the lowest E on the guitar and then the highest, the harmonic on the first string - a little nod to the Beatles' "Nowhere Man" solo - I couldn't resist that! Don't forget - mediocre composers borrow, great composers steal! And speaking of composing, this might be a good time to say a few words about composing and improvising solos. "Nowhere Man" is a perfect example of a composed solo - it borrows a lot from the song's melody but varies it.
This solo of mine on "Thirteen Feet of Rain" was sort of a hybrid of the two, as is often the case for me when I'm working alone in my studio. What I mean by hybrid is that I would start recording the solo by just improvising and doing a handful of takes. Often what will happen next is I'll listen back and choose a take where I like the way I started. But often I find that even though I like the way one take started, it doesn't satisfy me all the way through. So, I'll begin to punch in on that take, and build it from there. And sometimes, after it's clear what the whole solo is, I'll learn the whole thing and replay it, since it's at that point all worked out, or composed. We'll revisit this topic of the improvisation/composition continuum again.