This week’s 5 Guitar Licks lesson focuses on approaches to playing over ‘radio’ pop rock guitar music. I tried to incorporate general ideas that I have frequently heard in many of the great session guitarists. Guitarists like Tim Pierce, Michael Landau, and Tom Bukovac find the perfect balance between melody and excitement. This is important because this kind of solo is used to lift the song into one last big chorus. These pop rock guitar licks use techniques like drones, repeated figures, and octaves to enhance simple, singable melodies. This will help you add more energy and aggression that will help you build a solo to climax.

The first lick uses a droning note (open E) to give more personality to a simple melodic line. You can also try this technique using drones that are below the melody as well!

The second lick is a more traditional rock line. The lick ends with a dramatic low E which creates more tension and sets up the next idea. Another thing to note with this lick is how I rake the lower strings into each of the bends. I find that this gives the bends more of an aggressive feel that fits the rock style of the track.

The third lick is a combination of the drone melody line again and chord tone targeting of the D chord. Radio guitar solos are often playing the changes instead of generalizing the progression which is common with classic rock. Targeting chord tones helps ensure the lines remain more melodic and focused than wandering. This line begins with a Em sounding run that goes on to target the chord tones of the D chord.

The fourth lick makes use of a repeated figured that uses three notes in a straight eighth note rhythm. This makes it so the pattern is constantly shifting it’s starting place between a down and up beat. This helps to create a last bit of tension to set up the final build of the solo.

The last lick is an building octave melody that syncs with the drummer’s accents to provide an exciting send off. The idea is a simple ascending scale but the use of octaves make the line sound much more interesting. Octaves are very stable sounding which makes it safe to play very aggressively and attack the strings. This really gets that rock sound going and is a great way to finish off a solo.

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