Working as a professional guitarist and guitar tutor I have many times been asked about good guitar solos to learn in order to improve a student’s personal technique at the same time as gaining and expanding their own improvisational ideas. Many players are frequently attracted to the idea of mastering the more complicated or technically proficient solos as they offer a greater challenge and are therefore more satisfying when competent performance has been achieved. Discussion on the subject of the best guitar solos for beginners, however, is often overlooked. In my experience beginner level solos prove to be an invaluable source for lick building and inspiration for the less confident beginner players. I thought an article on some suggestions based on my teaching experience may be of help to any beginner guitar students out there looking for some ideas.
One of the first ports of call I would suggest would be the one considered the greatest of all time – Jimi Hendrix. The guitar solo in Fire is not only extremely effective it’s also not very complicated but relies heavily on your ability to string bend accurately. String bending is an essential technique to learn for good guitar improvisation but takes time to develop so this solo provides the perfect incentive to reach a good level of competency if you’re going to nail this particular solo.
Another example from the Jimi Hendrix catalogue would be the solo from Hey Joe. Not only is it a great blues rock solo it is also for the most part based entirely around the minor pentatonic scale – shape one. It is a feast of classic blues based licks with bends and slides that will provide you with some great ideas for building your own licks to use when improvising. Again it will mean you will have to work on those important string bending skills as there’s quite a few of them and in some interesting combinations.
For building confidence in developing melodic lead lines I would recommend having a go at Jeff Beck’s Hi Ho Silver Lining. Arguably not one of his most favourable tunes but the solo is a nice simple melodic hook with a little bit of pull off trickery towards middle (nothing too strenuous but good for developing that particular technique). Because of its melodic nature, however, it needs to be played accurately. It’s a well known solo so any bum notes will stick out big time – not good if you’re playing it live.
For the same reason you could give the solo in T. Rex’s Ride A White Swan a run. Like Hi Ho Silver Lining it’s a popular song with a well known but simple and melodic solo so if you play it wrong in public you’ll be caught out. I always recommend that students learn these kind of guitar solos purely to develop confidence in their lead guitar playing generally.
These are just some suggestions but you’ll notice that the point I’m making here is to concentrate on the simple solos that contain some useful techniques and will serve to develop your confidence as a player. These sorts of solos are the best guitar solos for beginners and they will help you play with confidence and conviction and ultimately make you a better player overall.