Embrace your inner rock star!

How To Get Better at Figuring Out Guitar Solos By Ear

What is the best way to improve your ability to figure out guitar solos by ear?

    1. Use a slow downer app, such as Transcribe (available on Windows and Mac, but not IOS), or Anytune (available on Mac and IOS). I own both and use them all the time. Transcribe has the added feature of being able to slow down video as well, which is super helpful in cases where you have a video of the guitarist playing the solo (Anytune can slow down the audio portion of the video but won’t show you the actual video playing in slowmo whereas Transcribe will give the audio with the video).
    2. Learn your major, minor and major pentatonic and minor pentatonic scales all over the neck, in all the common keys. You don’t have to memorise them all just yet. Google for scale diagrams for each of the above mentioned and keep the diagrams somewhere handy. When tackling a song, know that most pop and rock music is in one key for the entire song. So once you figure out the key, you have a pretty good idea that most of the solo is probably taking notes from one of those aforementioned scales. Since you have the scale diagrams handy, you won’t have to aimlessly peck at each note on the neck trying to find one that matches the solo – you will realize that the solo probably follows certain predictable patterns that correspond to the scale the guitarist is using.
    3. There are deviations from #2 but that will get you there for probably at least 80% of the cases. Now Jazz solos are a whole other story, but I am guessing you are asking more from a rock and pop angle.

Ultimately, the more you do it, the better your ear will become. You will surprise yourself what you can figure out with time, especially with the help of the slow downer apps!


How to IMPROVE on your instrument with limited practice time

If you are a weekend warrior guitar player like me, you probably don’t have much time to play your instrument (guitar, piano, saxophone, whatever it might be), let alone to PRACTICE. Now playing and practicing are 2 different things, but that’s a topic for another post.

So with limited available time with your instrument (let’s say just a few hours a week on the whole) how can you still hope to make constant improvements?

In my experience, when faced with limited time, you will make more progress by dividing time with your instrument into lots of smaller chunks rather than just 1 or 2 big blocks.

For instance, rather than just playing/practicing for the whole afternoon on Sunday and then not touching the instrument again till the following weekend, it would be far better to spend just a little time each day (maybe 15-20 minutes) throughout the week, and forego the big Sunday session.

You will have to re-organize somethings in your life to make just a little time each day (or every other day for a start). And in return, you do on that Sunday afternoon those other little things that you put aside on the weekdays so you could have just a little regular time for your instrument.

Constant “touch” with your instrument, even in small chunks, is better than extended time in one block with large gaps in between where you don’t play at all.

A simple analogy (not perfect but you will get the idea) is exercise: Doing something a little a day, say a 15 minute walk each day, is obviously better than going for a 2 hour walk once a week and lying in bed the rest of the time! Same sort of idea. When you keep in constant touch with your instrument, you brain and body naturally figure out ways to get comfortable (and better) at it.