Soloing Like the Greats

(for intermediate & advanced levels)

So you've been learning songs and playing some solid rhythm guitar and basic soloing riffs for some time now, and you're trying to muster up the courage to step out of this comfort zone and start bending some strings.  There are plenty of solos out there to help get you to that next level, but let's start with one of my favorites.  If you have ever been a fan of Pink Floyd, you might have recognized David Gilmour's uncanny ability to produce guitar solos with long-ringing powerful notes that seem to sing their own song over the accompanying chords.  For those looking for a good starting point on soloing like one of the greats, I might start looking at the intro to "Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-IV)", the first song on the legendary album Wish You Were Here.  Glimour plays his intro solo from 2:10 - 3:35 in this song, and if you have some ability to bend strings, grab your electric guitar and get started breaking this one down.

Chord progression is:  Gm - Dm - Cm - Gm - Dm - Cm - Dm - Gm.

The key of this solo can be said to be G-minor (or the relative minor key of Bb major).  Check out the tabs from UltimateGuitar.com.  The solo is comprised mostly of the minor pentatonic scale (1, b3, 4, 5, b7), while also adding the 2nd interval as well to expand the solo, adding a bit more color.  The standard minor pentatonic position can be considered as such with the root on the 6th (low E) string, and can be transferred to any spot on the guitar neck depending on the key.

 ** Be sure to consider the "2" interval as well for this solo (not shown above) **

** Be sure to consider the "2" interval as well for this solo (not shown above) **

So, if we transfer this position up to the 15th fret of the guitar neck, this will allow us to play the majority of the solo without moving our hand position much at all.  Practicing this solo will provide some great ear training for bending notes to their final tones.  Watch out for the bend at 2:34 where Gilmour takes his root (1) all the way up to the b3 which is a 3-semitone bend (it's OK to take breaks for sore fingers).  

For those more advanced players, see if you can decipher how Gilmour outlines each chord with his soloing here.  I personally love the final Gm landing note at 3:27, with a high b3 right when the chord hits, then involving the 5 and the b7 before resolving to the root to end the solo.  This one is really involved in minor blues influence as well with the I-V-IV progression as some of you might catch.  Enjoy!

- written by Travis Palladino, founder & director of Music Flow LLC

Let us know what you enjoy most about Gilmour's style and if you've applied any of it to your playing.