Acoustic Guitar Solo Lesson Part 1: A Totally Unique, Creative, And Equally Impressive Way To Solo On Your Acoustic Guitar

by Simon Candy

 

 

There are many ways you can approach soloing on your acoustic guitar. Some are unique and creative, while other approaches, although may sound good, have been done many times before.

If you’ve been soloing on your guitar for some time and struggle to come up with any technique that sounds good, or stands out from the usual stuff you hear and play, then let me introduce to you an approach that brings together two very common elements of guitar soloing. Combined, these will create very unique and amazing sounding solos on your acoustic guitar!

What are these two elements?

They are the open string, and the pentatonic scale.

Over the course of 3 articles, I am going to show you a number of approaches you can take to create awesome sounding acoustic guitar solos using the 5 pentatonic scale patterns and opens strings on your guitar.

The resulting sound will blow you away, not to mention those who hear you use this soloing technique.

In todays article, part 1, we will cover the basics of this soloing approach. I will show you just how simple it really is to marry up your pentatonic scale patterns with the open strings for a totally unique and amazing solo sound.


The Banjo Roll Technique

There is actually a third element I have not mentioned yet, that along with the pentatonic scale patterns and open strings, completes this unique solo guitar technique.

That elements is what is known as a banjo roll.

Let’s begin with the banjo roll and see how adding the elements of pentatonic scale patterns and open strings can create a totally awesome guitar solo sound for your playing.

There are two kinds of banjo rolls we will be using with our acoustic guitar soloing. They are the forward banjo roll, and the backward banjo roll.

A banjo roll is simply a rotating/repeating fingerpicking pattern that uses your thumb (p), index (i), and middle (m) fingers across adjacent strings.

Here is a forward banjo roll:

 

Acoustic Solo Technique Forward Roll

 

 

 

And here is a backward banjo roll:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Backward Banjo Roll

 

 

 

We are not going to be playing banjo rolls per se, but we will take them and apply them to the pentatonic scale.

You will be using the forward banjo roll to ascend the pentatonic scale patterns. Let’s start with the pattern applied to open strings as it will be for your picking hand when ascending the patterns:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Forward Roll 6 String

 

 

 

You will be using the backward banjo roll to descend the pentatonic scale patterns. Let’s start with the pattern applied to open strings as it will be for your picking hand when descending the patterns:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Backward Roll 6 String

 

 

 

Practice each of the ascending and descending open string patterns above in isolation first so you can get them down.

Slow is great for now, so don’t try and play these fast and have the accuracy of what you are playing suffer as a result.

Watch the video for a demonstration of this.


A Quick Note On Keys For This Solo Technique

Before we get into this acoustic solo technique, a quick note to let you know this approach will work better in some keys than others. This is because we are using open strings. The more open string notes that exist within a key, the better that key is suited for soloing using this technique.

The key of Em has all the open string notes in it:

E  F#  G  A  B  C  D  E

* open string notes highlighted

Therefore Em is a great key for this technique for soloing.

Another great key is Am.

However there are keys that aren’t suited too. There are ways around this, but for now let’s stay on topic.


The Open String/Pentatonic Scale Guitar Solo Technique

Now it’s time to apply our banjo roll patterns to the pentatonic scale to create the foundation for this solo guitar approach.

I’m going to use pattern 3 in the key of Em to run you through this technique.

So here is pattern 3 in Em:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Pattern 3

 

Nothing too unique here just yet.

However, if we apply our banjo roll pattern to this scale pattern, everything changes!

It’s like adding that magic ingredient that makes the dish.

The great thing about this solo technique is that it is a consistent pattern. Once you get the first 3 notes down, it’s all repetition from there.

The sequence is made up of playing 2 consecutive fretted notes on adjacent strings of the pattern, followed by an open string.

That’s it!

So to begin play the 2nd note of the pattern on the 6th string with your thumb (p), then the 1st note on the 5th string of the pattern with your index (i), followed by the open 4th string with your middle (m) finger. This completes one rotation of our forward roll banjo patter

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Sequence 1

 

 

From here you simply repeat this sequence of notes, only starting from the 5th string of the pattern:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Sequence 2

 

 

And then the 4th string of the pattern:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Sequence 3

 

 

And then the 3rd string of the pattern:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Sequence 4

 

 

Here is pattern 3, ascending, in it’s entirety with our open string, banjo roll, guitar solo technique applied:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Ascending Scale

 

 

To descend the pattern you simply play what you have just done, only backward.

String set 1, 2, 3:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Sequence 5

 

 

String set 2, 3, 4:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Sequence 6

 

 

String set 3, 4, 5:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Sequence 7

 

 

String set 4, 5, 6:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Sequence 8

 

Here is pattern 3, descending, in it’s entirety with our open string, banjo roll, guitar solo technique applied:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Descending Scale

 

 

Watch the video that accompanies this article for a detailed demonstration of the open string solo technique being applied to pattern 3.


Turning The Pattern Around

There is one thing left we need to do to make for a smooth switch from ascending the pattern to descending.

It’s very simple, but makes all the difference.

When you arrive at the 2nd string ascending the scale, you will of course not have enough strings left to complete a rotation of the forward banjo roll.

This is why we stopped at the 3, 2, 1 string set when ascending the pattern above.

Instead, play this sequence:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Change Over

 

 

 

Playing the sequence above and then following it by immediately starting to descend the scale pattern will make for a smooth changeover from ascending to descending, like so:

 

Acoustic Guitar Solo Technique Scale Ascending Descending

 

 

That’s it!

You now have the foundation for this very unique and creative solo technique. I would highly recommend you find a backing track in the key of Em, or G Major as this is relative to Em, and practice playing and creating with this soloing approach.

Here is an example of this for you:

 

 

In the next article we will dig a little deeper into this soloing style in the context of the blues.


Learn these totally unique and amazing open string acoustic guitar solo riffs