Writing A Rock Guitar Solo (Guitar Lesson)


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Dennis Hodges

Writing A Rock Guitar Solo

Dennis Hodges teaches you some of the basics to writing your own solos! In this lesson Dennis writes a solo to a backing track that he has never heard before and explains every step along the way!

Taught by Dennis Hodges in Lead Concepts & Techniques seriesLength: 47:13Difficulty: 3.0 of 5


Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

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bchang0999bchang0999 replied on April 3rd, 2013

Hey Dennis im confused im not sure how you get notes from multiple chords and take out the notes that dont go in.

dennis.hodgesdennis.hodges replied on April 8th, 2013

well, the chords are Bb (Bb D F), Gm (G Bb D), Cm (C Eb G), Eb (Eb G Bb), and Ebm (Eb Gb Bb). From there I put them in alphabetical order, starting with Bb (which sounds the most like "home"): Bb C D Eb F Gb G A. Excluding the Gb, which is part of a chord that sounds most "out" of the key center, that gives us the Bb major scale. Anymore explaining wouldn't fit into this short space so if you can make any of my chats I'd be happy to talk more about it there.

f14birdyf14birdy replied on July 7th, 2011

I watched these a few times, but I just don't get it. Where are these "notes" coming from? How do you know what notes will work with the chord progression? First I thought you were just playing a scale in the same key of the chord but that wasn't it. Then I tried using my knowledge of the circle of fifths, but I just can't figure out how to know what keys/notes you can use.

dennis.hodgesdennis.hodges replied on January 8th, 2012

well, I have a bit of an advantage in already knowing the neck pretty well, and knowing any note in any scale. What I did was deduce the overall key (Bb) based on the chords used, which gave me a certain set of notes to start with (Bb C D Eb G A Bb). Then I used those notes throughout the solo, trying to emphasize chord tones for stronger melodic lines. In the case of the non-diatonic chord, I just adjusted the one necessary note (Gb instead of G).

alecalec replied on October 26th, 2010

it gets funny at 6:54-7:02 on lesson 5

dokterdondokterdon replied on October 2nd, 2010

This was the lesson I was waiting for! Totally awesome! Things really clicked for me in this lesson!

madman066madman066 replied on February 25th, 2010

Cool solo, that was freaking awesome. Good job, taught me a LOT towards the whole mind set off it, thanks

keiko95keiko95 replied on February 20th, 2010

his face expression while hes trying to find the chords is very intertaining...great lesson by the way

mcmizzlemcmizzle replied on January 11th, 2010

yeah I loved that part, "why am I not awesome?" lol, great lesson, sweet little solo.

surfguitarsurfguitar replied on September 22nd, 2009

why you have to tune it? isn't that in standar tuning?

kvdalykvdaly replied on September 20th, 2009

Dennis - when I play something, I often wonder - "why am I not awesome?" - thanks for helping me figure it out!

Brad.HeneckeBrad.Henecke replied on September 19th, 2009

That was Great ! Its hard to teach how to write when there are so many differnt ways to go about it .Thanks for that. I'm glad there was the major minor 4th thing in there .I have ran into that a few times .

meganmegan replied on September 18th, 2009

Fascinating! First though was, "Gee, just to know the fretboard as well as Dennis." You are a hardworking guitar player man. Love ya!

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied on September 18th, 2009

nicely done dennis! lots of things the new players needed to hear, and know. the solo was nicely put together, and had different levels of emotion, as well as techniques to peak a listeners interest! always a pleasure hearing your insight into these topics. great job!!!

mrporcupinemrporcupine replied on September 18th, 2009

This helped allot! Thanks a million!

wickedvasewickedvase replied on September 18th, 2009

What a great "look" into your mind and how you come up with a solo. Extremely helpful and I hope more lessons like this come soon

itsmekeuhitsmekeuh replied on September 18th, 2009

Great lesson, I just recently started 'composing' myself and I use a similar combination of humming small melodies over chords and going where my hand is taking me next. Its nice to see I am on the right track. Thx Dennis.

stevieray2stevieray2 replied on September 18th, 2009

great lesson dennis help me out alot

dennis.hodgesdennis.hodges replied on September 18th, 2009

thanks everyone! we were (mostly, I was) a little nervous about this and the next lesson which is similar so it's good to hear from you all.

beckizzlebeckizzle replied on September 18th, 2009

Awesome lesson. Helped me loads :)

kevinacekevinace replied on September 18th, 2009

Badass! Helps me a lot!

dmb2574dmb2574 replied on September 18th, 2009

Sweet, very informative and pleasing.

nate_thegreatnate_thegreat replied on September 18th, 2009

cool lesson man! gave me goosebumps.

Lead Concepts & Techniques

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Dennis Hodges blends conceptual lead instruction for developing solos, improvising, and harmonizing along with lead techniques such as legato, sweeping, and alternate picking.



Lesson 1

Major Scale Improvising

Dennis covers the basics of the major scale. Then, he introduces you to improvisation within a one octave scale pattern.

Length: 25:45 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Minor Scale Improvising

Dennis introduces the minor scale. You will improvise within this scale and work on a written solo as well.

Length: 26:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Harmonizing

Dennis teaches harmonization in 3rds, diatonic and non-diatonic 4ths, 5ths, diatonic 6ths, and atonal harmonization.

Length: 27:16 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Lead Guitar Improvising

Dennis teaches key improvisational concepts such as blending scales, phrasing, and staying within a scale.

Length: 29:16 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Sweep Picking

Dennis Hodges teaches sweeping technique, 3 string triads, and 2 octave arpeggios. Also included is an etude written specifically for JamPlay!

Length: 39:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Tapping: Basic and Advanced Techniques

Dennis covers many tapping techniques in this lesson. From basic to advanced, get ready to learn something new!

Length: 39:47 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Lead Concepts and Techniques: Tricks

Dennis teaches a bunch of cool metal and rock tricks in this lesson!

Length: 34:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Writing A Rock Guitar Solo

Dennis Hodges teaches you some of the basics to writing your own solos!

Length: 47:13 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Lead Guitar Improvisation

Dennis Hodges teaches the basics of improvising a solo over a backing track.

Length: 28:44 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Interpretation

Dennis teaches some basics on how to interpret a piece of music and make it your own.

Length: 20:03 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
Lesson 11

Soloing In E Minor

Dennis dissects a solo he wrote that stays in the 12th position box of E minor.

Length: 15:10 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Soloing In A Minor

Dennis Hodges dissects an advanced, extended solo he wrote in A Minor for this lesson.

Length: 33:28 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Metal Solo Introduction

JamPlay instructor Dennis Hodges is back with a two sided metal solo! This pack of lessons contains an intermediate and advanced level metal solo. You'll be utilizing bends, sweeping, arpeggios and talking...

Length: 2:11 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Easy Metal Solo Phrase #1

To get things started, Dennis offers up the first four measure phrase of this easy metal solo. He also discusses the E Phrygian Dominant mode, which will be used throughout most of this solo.

Length: 3:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #1

Now that you have the first phrases of the easy solo under your fingers, let's put a little heat into the lick. You're working out of the same E Phrygian Dominant scale here, but you're adding some embellishments...

Length: 4:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Easy Metal Solo Phrase #2

Here's another four bar phrase of the easy metal solo. This phrase is predominantly arpeggio-based. It ends with a big bend and slide out.

Length: 4:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #2

Like the second phrase of the easy solo, this advanced phrase is also predominantly arpeggio-based. However, it adds speed and flash for a more speed metal vibe.

Length: 4:50 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 18

Easy Metal Solo Phrase #3

Dennis is back with the next phrase of the easy metal solo. Phrase three incorporates a step sequence where you play a note, go up a step, then leap down in a repeated fashion.

Length: 3:49 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #3

Just like the other advanced phrases, this one is an embellishment of the easy lick. To amp up the step sequence of the easy lick, this advanced phrase adds triplets.

Length: 6:16 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Easy Metal Solo Phrase #4

Dennis Hodges is back with another lick from the easy metal solo. Phrase four is the final phrase of the easy metal solo. This lick isn't incredibly fast, but it combines a pull-off to open strings, which...

Length: 3:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #4

Phrase four of the advanced solo is another embellishment of the easy solo. To amp up the speed and give it a more metal edge, Dennis introduces trills that bounce off the open strings.

Length: 5:56 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Easy Metal Solo Connections

At this point, you should have all four phrases of the easy solo under your fingers. In this lick entry, Dennis discusses how to connect the phrases together in order to play the entire solo seamlessly.

Length: 4:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 23

Advanced Metal Solo Connections

Congratulations! You've learned all four phrases of the advanced metal solo. Now, let's take a look at how to connect those phrases for a seamless solo!

Length: 6:07 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only

About Dennis Hodges View Full Biography For better or worse, Dennis Hodges cannot stop playing music, and (he hopes) will never stop playing music.

Growing up in Flint, Michigan, Dennis had a tremendous passion for drawing. He couldn't stop copying moves from bands he saw on MTV, though, and it didn't help that his parents filled the house with Santana, Stevie Ray, and Allman Bros. (on real records, no less!) so it wasn't long till he got his first guitar. It was junk. Within a few weeks his parents traded in a poor acoustic for a less junky 3/4-size electric.

Dennis started lessons right away at the age of 8. He still remembers hating it for awhile, and not taking it seriously until he was 12. He is thankful his parents forced him to practice early on and kept paying for lessons, even though rational thinking should have stopped them after a year.

Around this time drawing became less important, and guitar consumed all his attention. After 6 years of lessons he parted ways with his teacher and, after trying out two others with no results, decided to continue alone. His nerdistic tendencies paid off, as he put in hours working on picking and left hand exercises and learned as many Randy Rhoads and Kirk Hammett solos as he could.

Luckily, there were playing opportunities at school talent shows and church. Dennis was playing bass at his church when he was 13, helping to hone his performance skills in a group setting.

In high school, Dennis joined the marching band on sousaphone for all 4 years. It was as awesome as you could expect. He was also fortunate enough to be in several different metal bands, still play at church, and get the incredible opportunity to play guitar for many local community theaters. This kept his sight-reading in shape and gave him an appreciation for different styles of music (and paid pretty well, from a high schooler's perspective).

In 2001, Dennis came to Bexley, Ohio to study guitar at Capital University with Stan Smith. His studies emphasized jazz and classical guitar. Here his metal past merged with a deeper understanding of the instrument and music in general, and the basis for most of his teaching style was set in motion.

Dennis now plays guitar for Upper Arlington Lutheran Church every Sunday, for St. Christopher in Grandview, Ohio, with the youth group, and also plays for touring Broadway shows that stop in Columbus. Occasionally, he plays weddings and private parties, and he is starting a new cover band with some friends, called Dr. Awkward. He is blessed to have his understanding and supportive wife Kate, and is glad to be at JamPlay!

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