Once you’ve learned how to play and improvise with the minor pentatonic scale, you’ll definitely want to jump in and learn some easy minor pentatonic solos from your favourite songs.
But what next? Fear not, for I’m about to share with you 3 challenging minor pentatonic solos (not just for electric guitar!) that will test your skills to the limit – and teach you some awesome licks and ideas for your own solos, too.
#1 All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix (Bob Dylan cover)
This solo is fantastic for pushing you with 3 techniques:
- Big bends
- Arpeggio shapes
- Use of wah and effects
To truly sound like Jimi, you’re going to need to be spot on with your bends. Sing the pitch you want to reach first, then bend to it. If you’re a little bit out, use vibrato to gradually get to the right pitch. The goal is to land at the right note faster, more often through repetition.
None of the arpeggio shapes in this song are too crazy, but if you haven’t solo’d using arpeggios before, it may be a new idea to wrap your head around. Try to work out what chord the notes in the arpeggios make up as that way you’ll know when to use them again in your own solos.
Finally, the effects Jimi uses are pretty iconic in this song, so get out your wah pedal and shape your notes! Experimentation is the key here, so don’t be too worried about going for total accuracy (this is a very old recording, with very old equipment). Just try to capture a sound that fits the song.
#2 T.A.Z. (Black Label Society)
If you’ve ever felt like minor pentatonic is just for electric lead guitarists, here’s a crazy example of what you can achieve on the acoustic alone.
Obviously, the big challenge here is speed, but don’t forget to work on your dynamics too, as they’ll really help the piece come alive.
The best tip I can give you for this beast of a solo is to break it into very small, repeatable sections, and play it SUPER slow until you have it memorised. Memorisation and muscle memory turn these licks from “impossible” to “just hard to play fast”.
The beauty of it is that all of these licks will sound nice when they are played slow, too, so even if you do a 25% speed version, you’ll build some cool ideas into your minor pentatonic repertoire.
#3 Hot for Teacher (Van Halen)
For those more interested in ‘traditional’ shred, it’s hard to look past one of the pioneers, Eddie Van Halen.
You could probably choose any of his solos as great examples of fast minor pentatonic soloing, but this one has a bunch of his signature licks all jammed together so it’s a good one to master.
Like T.A.Z., your best bet is to break it into small chunks and slow it down. However, I would aim to get each lick up to speed on its own before joining it all together, as it’ll make this shredfest sound a lot more impressive, faster.
Feel free to let us know of any other great minor pentatonic solos in the comments, as these are just the beginning.
And, of course, if you’d like some more personal help getting your soloing chops up, book yourself in for a free evaluation lesson at our Ringwood guitar studio.