How To Play Amazing Guitar Solos Using Syncopation

Wish you could make your guitar playing sound a lot more musically interesting and expressive?

If you’re like countless lead guitarists, you have good technical playing ability and understanding of things like arpeggio shapes, but don’t really know how to use this knowledge to play emotional lead guitar licks.

This is discouraging because no matter what you try to do, your guitar phrases just seem to be missing creativity and musical emotion.

I used to battle with this too until a guitar teacher asked me:

“ Do all of the guitar licks you play start with a note on the downbeat?”

This was a new concept for me.

The good news about this is:

Now I am going to demonstrate for you a helpful way to make your lead guitar solos more interesting. You only need to pay more attention to syncopation.

You don’t have to be an awesome guitar player to do this well. Watch this video and learn how to use syncopation to easily boost your solos:

Here is how to work on the syncopation concepts you just saw & make it easy to express yourself in your guitar licks:

1. Try syncopation on just a single note.

That’s right, you can create guitar ideas that are composed of only a single note, by itself.

But the following is the key:

When you play the note, accent it for as long as possible, working with the syncopation strategies you learned.

Perform the note, mute it and then articulate it again. Do it lots of times (just like in the training video). This is precisely how you express feeling with a single note.

2. When the syncopation concept becomes effortless, make longer phrases (and create entire guitar solos) with a couple of notes.

Using 2 notes, it becomes much easier to create emotion because the amount of lead guitar ideas you can build goes up greatly.

Later, start making even longer guitar licks (of three notes or greater ).

Advanced Lead Guitar Approach: stay away from overdoing syncopation in your guitar phrases.

Keep in mind: the function of syncopation is to help you express yourself. And part of what lets you create emotion with syncopation is how it isn’t predictable to the listener.

If people anticipate syncopation in all your guitar phrases (or everytime you play guitar solos), then your guitar playing becomes really predictable. When you do this — your power to create emotion is compromised.

More thoughts on syncopation:

Although syncopation is a really basic guitar concept …

… there are a few guitar elements you need to master to make it sound exceptional:

Lead Guitar Idea # 1: String Bending

Every guitarist understands that string bends make it effortless to express feeling in your guitar playing.

And when you join syncopation with passionate string bends in your guitar licks …

… it makes your guitar playing incredibly expressive as a result!

Also: syncopation frequently sounds great when you use it the string bends you play.

This is why:

When you use string bending to create emotion within a guitar phrase, the audience expects the bend to proceed without stopping. Syncopation divides the string bend’s timing and throws a curve ball to your listeners.

Let’s explore how to do string bends the correct way.

The most essential part of great lead guitar string bends is maintaining the strings in tune!

Lead Guitar Idea # : String Noise Management

To play guitar phrases (and guitar solos) that feel emotional, you have to get rid of string noise in your guitar soloing.

Without this, even the greatest guitar techniques become ruined. And licks like this don’t express feeling.

The greatest techniques for silencing string noise are: thumb muting in the picking hand and muting with the index finger in the fretting hand.

Each hand helps you play cleaner and more meaningful guitar phrases and licks.

Let’s investigate each one in detail:

Thumb Muting: As the label indicates, you just rest your picking hand’s thumb on the lower (thicker ) string as you play guitar phrases.

When your thumb is in the correct place, slide it up and down the strings as you play.

What does that achieve?

Your thumb keeps the lower (thicker ) strings silent when you play guitar licks.

This makes your guitar phrases sound perfect and makes it less challenging to express musical emotion.

Plus, you can also use your thumb to get rid of a note when you are incorporating syncopation with it.

Lead Guitar Idea # 3: Vibrato Skill

Your vibrato technique is the essence of your lead guitar playing.

The better you play vibrato, the better your expressive power (even if you struggle to play any advanced guitar phrases in your solos).

Excellent vibrato boils down to matching its speed and its width.

Vibrato that is too fast makes your guitar licks will sound anxious and wild.

Vibrato that is very slow and wide sounds more like you are performing slow bends.

Neither of these is effective for making your playing sound musically expressive.

Tip: Invest 10–20 minutes per day of guitar practice time to transcribing vocal parts singers’ vibrato nuances, then play it on guitar.

Lead Guitar Idea # 4: Delayed Expectation

Delayed resolution is a terrific way to express musical emotion with every note in your playing.

Here is what to do: Build an assumption for your lead guitar lick to end a specific way, then put off the resolution of what is anticipated.

Watch this video to hear this technique being demonstrated:

Integrating delayed resolution with syncopation helps you build emotion in your lead guitar ideas.

Get started playing guitar more expressively than ever before today by using personalized Online Guitar Lessons.

About The Author:
Tom Hess is a professional guitarist, composer, and an online guitar teacher. He is a trainer and mentor to guitar players from around the world in his guitar lessons online. Follow Tom Hess on Twitter for free guitar playing tips, guitar playing resources and more guitar playing articles.

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Tom Hess

Tom Hess is a guitar teacher trainer, musician and music career mentor. Learn more about him @