How to Play an Electric Guitar Solo in Rock Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A guide on how to play an electric guitar solo in rock music, with tips on what to do and what to avoid.


In rock music, an electric guitar solo is a solo played on an electric guitar. Electric guitar solos are typically played without accompaniment from other instruments, and are ofteninserted into otherwise instrumenal songs.

Electric guitar solos are common in many subgenres of rock music, including heavy metal, punk rock, and classic rock. In some styles of rock music, such as blues-rock and surf rock, electric guitar solos are less common, due to the prominence of other instruments such as the drums or bass guitar.

Gear You’ll Need

In order to play an electric guitar solo in rock music, you’ll need a few things:
-First, you’ll need an electric guitar. If you don’t have one, you can usually borrow one from a friend.
-Second, you’ll need an amplifier. This will make your electric guitar sound louder.
-Third, you’ll need a pick. This is a small piece of plastic or metal that you use to strum the strings of your guitar.
-Fourth, you’ll need some knowledge of chords. Chords are two or more notes played together. They form the foundation of most rock music.
-Finally, you’ll need some patience and practice!

Proper Hand Placement

For proper hand placement, your left hand should be positioned behind the guitar neck. Place your thumb in the space between the neck and hand and position your other fingers behind the strings. For most people, this is the most comfortable position. If you are a beginner, practice holding this position for a few minutes at a time until you get used to it.

Now that your left hand is in position, it’s time to focus on your right hand. The right hand is responsible for plucking or strumming the strings and creating the sound of the guitar solo. Start by holding your right hand behind the guitar neck as well. Place your thumb on the back of the neck and position your other fingers behind the strings. Again, practice holding this position for a few minutes until you get used to it.

String Bending

In rock guitar playing, one of the most important techniques is string bending. This is a technique that allows the guitarist to change the pitch of a note by using their fretting hand to bend the string horizontally while the note is still ringing. This is generally done by place the first finger on the string behind the fret to be bent, and then using the third finger to push the string up or down in order to bend it. The amount of bend is determined by how far the string is pushed up or down.

String bending can be used to create either a single note or a chord. When used to create a single note, it can be used to add sustain and vibrato to a note. It can also be used to create slurs between two notes. When used to create chords, bending can add additional color and texture.

In order to get started with string bending, it is important to practice with simple exercises. A good exercise for beginners is to hold down a note with the first finger and then use the third finger to bend the string up or down in small increments. Once you are comfortable with this exercise, you can begin experimenting with different amounts of bends and different fingers. With practice, you will be ableto add style and expression to your playing!


Vibrato is an essential technique for any guitar player, and it’s especially important when playing solos. A vibrato is achieved by rapidly shaking the hand that is holding the fretting hand, which causes the note to waver slightly in pitch. This gives the solo a more expressive sound and can also make it sound more powerful.

There are two main types of vibrato: wide vibrato and narrow vibrato. Wide vibrato is achieved by shaking the hand from side to side, while narrow vibrato is achieved by shaking the hand up and down.Wide vibrato is often used in rock music, while narrow vibrato is more commonly used in blues and jazz.

To play a vibrato, place your finger on the string you want to bend at the desired fret. then, use your picking hand to pluck the string. As you pluck the string, quickly shake your fretting hand back and forth. The faster you shake your hand, the faster the note will waver. Experiment with different speeds to find what sounds best.

Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs are two of the most common techniques used in rock guitar playing. A Hammer-On is when you “hammer” your finger down on the string behind the fret you are holding, without picking the string. This will cause the note to sound. A Pull-Off is the opposite – you “pull” your finger off of the string, without picking it. This will also cause the note to sound.


Sliding is a technique often used in rock guitar playing. A slide is simply when you place your finger on the string and then slide it up or down the fretboard to create a glissando (a sliding, gliding sound). Slides can be played on any string, but they are most commonly played on the high E string.

There are two types of slides: regular slides and Hammer-ons with Slides (sometimes called “HOS’s”). A regular slide is when you pick the note before you slide into it. With a Hammer-on with Slide, you don’t pick the note before you slide into it; instead, you just hammer-on to the note and then slide into the next note.

Here’s an example of aregular slide:

e|————————-| B|————————-| G|————————-| D|————————-| A|-3h4—--4p3—--3h4—--| E|——--4—--4———|

And here’s an example of a Hammer-on with Slide:

e|————————-| B|————————-| G|————————-| D|————————-| A|-3h4p3—--3h4p3———| E|———4—————|

As you can see, with a regular slide, you pick the note before you slide into it (in this case, the note on the 4th fret of the high E string). With a Hammer-on with Slide, you don’t pick that initial note; instead, you just hammer your finger on to it and then slide into the next note.

Palm Muting

Palm muting is an essential technique for playing electric guitar solos in rock music. To palm mute, you simply place the edge of your picking hand palm against the strings near the bridge of the guitar, and pluck the strings with your pick. This produces a muted, staccato sound that is perfect for rhythm playing and soloing.

When palm muting, it is important to keep your wrist relaxed and your hand close to the strings. You may need to experiment with different positions to find the sweet spot where the sound is muted but not overly so. It is also important to keep a light touch on the strings so that they do not buzz against the frets.

Once you have mastered palm muting, you can use it to create interesting rhythms and textures in your solos. Try throwing in some quick double stops or chordal passages between lead licks. You can also use palm muting to create a sense of space in your solo by leaving certain notes un-muted. This allows those notes to ring out and sustain while the rest of the lick is chopped up by the palm muting.

String Skipping

String skipping is a technique often used in rock guitar solos. It involves playing a note on one string, then quickly moving your fretting hand to another string and picking that string. This creates a fast, slinking sound that can really add attitude to your playing.

To perform a string skip, you’ll need to use alternate picking. This means that you’ll pick the first note with an upstroke, then pick the second note with a downstroke. Alternate picking is essential for string skipping, because it allows you to move quickly between strings without getting tangled up in your picking hand.

When you’re first starting out, try string skipping on the lower strings of the guitar. It’s easier to skip over two strings when they’re close together, so this will give you a chance to get the hang of the technique. Once you’re comfortable with it, move up to the higher strings and start incorporating string skipping into your guitar solos.


In conclusion, electric guitar soloing is a key element of rock music. To become a great soloist, you need to practice regularly and learn the different techniques that will help you express your musical ideas. With time and dedication, you can develop your own unique style and sound.

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