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Watch the Mapping Out The Solo online guitar lesson by Angus Clark from Hard Rock Survival Guide: Lead

Our last concept before moving ahead into the solo studies involves mapping out your solo. My creative process for working out a solo is to take a few passes on the solo to see what things sound like and what the form of the solo feels like. Where is the peak? How much do I want to build things up or do I want to go big right out of the gate? Does the scaler stuff work, or should I just go for classic blues licks? Should I use an effect? Check out where your chops are, can you cut 16th notes? How about 16th note triplets? If not, you need to either work within your limitations, or go back to the woodhsed. Sometimes this stuff comes together quickly, sometimes you have to back off and listen some more and see what else is going on in the song to see if there's something to pick up on. Should the solo just be a restatement of the vocal melody? Or is there a signature melodic hook that needs to be there and just can the idea of taking a "solo". All of these choices are on the table, and deserve serious consideration.

If it's a go for broke lead feature (yay!) then you need a map. Mine are usually based on what areas of the neck I am working in and how fast I'm playing. If it's a 16 bar form, the first 4 bars are in a lower octave, sparser licks, second 4 bars moving up and the licks get a bit more intense. Downbeat of bar 9 features something dramatic, fast stuff ensues leading into a building passage that pays off right before the vocal comes back in - and DON'T STEP ON THE VOCAL. I guarantee you that if the last note of your solo bleeds onto the vocal entrance that the mix engineer will destroy your solo by killing the last note that ends the solo so that it's not fighting with the vocal. And that's a fact.