One of the first things that attracts new players to the guitar is the soaring power of a guitar solo. The sound of shredding and guitar techniques merging melody with creativity and a flurry of fingers flying across the fretboard. When you’re first starting out, learning basics like chords and scales, the promise of playing a guitar solo of your own can seem quite distant. Not to worry! You’ll get there!
Learning how to guitar solo can give players a chance to express their personality and put newly-learned techniques into practice. While some solos can be pretty intricate, there are actually a number of easy guitar solos and riffs that are ideal for beginners to learn. Here are ten simple solos to learn on guitar, along with some tabs to help you start playing some of your favorites now.
Before we dive into some of those solos, here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you start playing some of your first guitar solos.
Tips For Guitar Solos
When it comes to trying your hand at a guitar solo for the first time -- or even the first few times -- don’t feel intimidated. Everyone was a beginner once and even the greatest guitarists had moments where they struggled to play a solo. Here are a few tips for beginner guitarists who are starting to play solos:
• Take it slow. There are no extra points given for trying to play a solo at top speed. Sometimes, you need to let the notes breathe and take things slowly. Before you start soloing, warm up a bit. Play a few scales or finger exercises to be sure you are hitting the notes correctly on your fretboard. This approach can also help to remove some of the intimidation factor of playing a guitar solo. Once you’ve had a chance to warm up, start to play the solo slowly. Accuracy matters more than speed. Learning to master the notes and allowing their full tone to ring out instead of playing them fast and sloppy can help you to build greater confidence. Keep practicing and you can eventually pick up the speed of your playing!
• Learn the solo in small chunks. It can be tough to commit an entire guitar solo to memory in a single sitting. When you first start to play a guitar solo, don’t sit down for a practice session with the expectation that you will learn to play it in its entirety in just one day. Instead, break the solo down into small chunks and master each section a little at a time. It may take you a few days or even a few weeks, but you’ll have more of a chance to memorize and perfect each section.
• Develop a strong foundation of techniques. When playing a guitar solo, it’s the little things that bring that section of music to life. While precision and accuracy are key in playing the right notes and making sure they ring out clearly, it’s applying different skills to those notes -- such as string bends, hammer-ons and pull-offs -- that can lend color, depth, and feeling to a guitar solo. Learning different techniques and how they can change the tone of a solo is a great way to experiment with putting your own stamp on a solo.
Check out this video and hear how string bending can create a dynamic effect in your playing:
Keep these tips in mind when you start learning your first guitar solo. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Learning to play a solo can be a lot of fun and a great way to put some of the lessons you’ve learned into practice. Now, let’s get started on choosing an easy guitar solo to practice!
1.) Holiday by Green Day
If pop-punk is your jam, “Holiday” by Green Day gives you the chance to learn to play a simple riff that makes use of power chords and repetition. From the band’s rock opera album, American Idiot, “Holiday” features a simple riff that allows you to practice shifting between two-finger power chords on the low-end of your guitar.
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2.) Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix’s penchant for distortion and effects forever made an impression on legions of guitarists who came after. “Voodoo Child” features one of his most iconic riffs and solos. And while it may sound intimidating to play a Hendrix composition, “Voodoo Child” can actually be an easy guitar solo for new players to learn. So, move over, Rover and let Jimi take over and feel the spirit of “Voodoo Child” when practicing your string bends on this solo:
3.) Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
You can never learn too many Jimi Hendrix songs! By practicing some of the classic compositions of one of rock’s most innovative guitarists, you can add a number of tools to your guitar arsenal. “Purple Haze” includes one of Hendrix’s most recognizable riffs and solos. By practicing this riff, you’ll weave together half-notes and quarter-notes along with string bends.
4.) Apache by The Shadows
Released in 1964, “Apache” by The Shadows has a galloping, Old West feel to it. A mix of classic rock, rockabilly, and country, this instrumental plays around with tempo and technique. Try playing the bridge to “Apache” for a crash-course on how allowing notes to ring out fully and slowly can create an atmospheric feeling to your playing.
5.) Johnny B Goode by Chuck Berry
While some people call Elvis “The King of Rock n’ Roll,” there’s some debate among guitarists, awarding that title of rock royalty to Chuck Berry. Berry’s signature song, “Johnny B. Goode” showcases his guitar prowess, marrying blues and rock for a refreshingly crisp sound. If you’re striving for precision, try your hand at playing the opening riff to “Johnny B. Goode” -- an instantly recognizable configuration of notes that instantly snaps the listener to attention.
6.) Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley
Speaking of the (other) King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” is a great example of a solo that’s relatively slower in tempo, but is loaded with feeling and relies on precision to pack its punch. “Heartbreak Hotel” combines blues and rockabilly to create its oh-so-lonely feel, with a dash of swagger. Power chords and single notes with meaningful pauses make “Heartbreak Hotel” an easy and fun solo for beginner guitarists to learn to play.
7.) Slow Ride by Foghat
Who says riffs and solos have to be just single notes? “Slow Ride” by Foghat has a number of memorable moments throughout this ‘70s rock classic. However, it also includes a chord progression that serves as its backbone. When playing this one, “take it easy” and pay attention to tempo and finger placement. Although this progression repeats, you’ll want to play it slowly to get the hang of it -- particularly when switching from the second fret all the way to the seventh and fifth frets on the same strings.
8.) On The Road Again by Willie Nelson
One of the innovators of outlaw country, Willie Nelson and his trusty guitar, Trigger, carved out a unique sound that remains as fresh and relevant today as it was when he first burst onto the music scene in the late 1950s. The “Redheaded Stranger” hit his stride in the 1970s, endowing country music with a harder edge with songs like “On the Road Again,” extolling the virtues of being a traveling musician and “making music with my friends again.” Try your hand at playing this rambling riff -- an easy and fun one for even beginner guitar players! Single notes at varying tempos shine, punctuated by some well-placed string bends to give this one some character.
9.) Pipeline by The Ventures
Surf guitar is one of the most fun and unique guitar genres, with riffs giving the feel of crashing waves and high and low tides. “Pipeline” by The Ventures is a noteworthy cover of The Chantays’ rendition of this classic. This instrumental poses a challenge for beginner guitarists, giving them a chance to experiment with string bends, as well as hammer-ons and pull-offs for an exhilarating ride.
10.) Oye Como Va by Santana
Carlos Santana’s “Oye Como Va” weaves together electrifying rock guitar alongside Latin rhythms for one of his most iconic compositions. The intro riff to “Oye Como Va” is an easy guitar solo for beginners that confines the melody to just two strings, but uses hammer-ons and recognizable fret patterns to create something memorable.
Find more beginner guitar solos to learn with Fender Play Collections
These ten examples just scratch the surface of easy guitar solos that beginner players can learn. Hungry for more or want to challenge yourself further? A free trial of Fender Play unlocks more songs, lessons and guitar collections to help you expand your guitar horizons.
From songs and riffs you can learn in just under five minutes, to more intricate lead guitar solos that can help you level up your playing, Fender Play collections bring together some of your favorite songs and help you find the common ground between them, building upon the skills you already have and giving you the chance to stretch out with new techniques. Get started today!