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Old 03-14-2019, 10:14 AM
Jersey jack Jersey jack is offline
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Default unaccompanied lead breaks

I imagine that this has been discussed before, but in any case I couldn't find the right search terms. I am thinking of doing some solo gigs, and I want to add variety to the songs by crafting lead breaks of some sort. I can do this well enough when finger-picking, but crafting a solo while flat-picking is quite challenging. I'm thinking of country/folk here, so imagine performing a Willie Nelson or George Jones song and including a guitar solo of some sort. How would you go about doing this? Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:32 AM
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KevWind KevWind is offline
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I imagine that this has been discussed before, but in any case I couldn't find the right search terms. I am thinking of doing some solo gigs, and I want to add variety to the songs by crafting lead breaks of some sort. I can do this well enough when finger-picking, but crafting a solo while flat-picking is quite challenging. I'm thinking of country/folk here, so imagine performing a Willie Nelson or George Jones song and including a guitar solo of some sort. How would you go about doing this? Any advice would be appreciated.
It can work but be aware one reason it is so doable with fingerstyle is,,, it is usually being done over a complementary rhythmic bass line of some kind .

So with the flat pic that is not happening, so keep it very short and make sure it is in and out on the beat. Think 4-6-8 to 12 notes max
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:49 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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There's a million ways, really...

One of the first things I'd sugest is to frame the solo bits by not playing as much when you're not soloing. Play less, if you're always bashing out six string strums the whole tune, yes, of course it sounds like the bottom falls out when you solo (I'm not suggesting you're doing this, but if you are, there's point A)

It's very useful to know the chords of the tune up and down the neck. Sometimes, all that's needed is a change of register, some arpeggios, vary the rhythm and you have melody...

Doublestops and sixths = your friend.

It's great if you can keep a string ringing here and there that's in the chord of the moment. You'll hear a guy like David Rawlings do this a lot.

Play the changes...don't just noodle in a scale. When the chord changes, you change, therefore the harmony keeps going...you can still "hear the tune."

Play tag with yourself...think like two guitars...play a bit of melody, then fill in the space with the chord before your next melody line. Self-accompanyment. This is where again, knowing the chords up and down the neck is so valuable.

Learn how to play the melody and chords to the tune instrumentally. If you look at Willie Nelson, so many of his solos are just embellishments on the melody. That's all you need sometimes. Having the melody of the song as a fallback for a few bars is a great tool.

Consider hybrid picking...the best of both worlds, in a sense...allows you to use some fingerpicking patterns but still have the strength of the pick if you want.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:43 AM
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If you look at Willie Nelson, so many of his solos are just embellishments on the melody. That's all you need sometimes.
I was going to mention Willie....
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:18 PM
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When In Doubt Play The Melody.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:48 PM
Jersey jack Jersey jack is offline
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Thanks, this is very helpful; some of the suggestions (e.g., chord melody) I'm already doing, so I'm glad that I'm a least partially on the right track!

I'm also trying to keep any breaks short--more licks built on the melody than extended improvisation. I'm currently moving through Bryan Sutton's bluegrass course on ArtistWorks, and he features an improv exercise that uses two beats of alternate bass strumming followed by two beats of playing around the scale, which is very helpful.

Another thing I'm working on is lowering the 5th and 6th strings a whole step (leaving the other strings in standard tuning), which gives me a ringing open bass note on the I and the V chords in the key of G. I thought I'd capo up from there and then have a second guitar set up with in this tuning a whole step lower in case I need to play in the key of F-->C/F/C/F/A/D.
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Old 03-14-2019, 06:36 PM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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You've got some good ideas so far - I totally agree with keep it simple and stick to the melody as much as you can.

Another technique I used to employ when I was doing the solo thing - especially on a vocal tune where there wasn't a specific soloing section - is to alternate between strumming or arpeggiating and soloing. I might play 3-4 notes and then strum a couple of beats, then more notes etc. This would give the illusion of something going on without completely losing the momentum of the chordal backing. A little like juggling.

Some songs you can actually do a call and response between (e.g.) 1 bar solo and 1 bar chords - that can work well. Other songs start sounding empty more quickly so you might want to switch back and forth every two beats or so.

If you incorporate double stops as well that spices things up considerably.

Even though I don't play solo anymore, I still use this general technique often.
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