Making the Changes when Playing Guitar Solos

Most guitarists learn to play a guitar solo by wandering around the scale of the key. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s a great way to start. But at some point, you’re going to hear somebody hitting a lot of sweet notes and you’ll wonder how they found them. Chances are, they’re making the changes, as we say.

Making the changes means that some of the notes you use in a guitar solo belong to the chord played at that instant in the song. Arpeggios are a common way we find chord tones, but you don’t have to be an arpeggio wizard to start making the changes. Even if you just target one chord tone on the first beat of each chord in your solo, you’ll go a long way toward sounding like you’re making the changes.

A lot of people associate this as a jazz-only thing, but it’s not. Many Blues, Country and Rock guitar players can make the changes. It just requires a little knowledge of the notes in each chord and some exploration and planning on the fretboard. Most blues guitar players target specific notes on some chords. These are chord tones most of the time.

A good classic rock example of making the changes is the guitar solo on ‘Hotel California’. It’s worth checking out.


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