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Quit Thinking About It

Every once in a while, as a guitar player, something comes up that inspires something exciting in your playing. I had that opportunity within the last year to have this happen to me. First, I’ll give you a little background information. For about 7 years, I played in a melodic thrash metal band. Everything was always written very precisely and well thought out. Since most of the songs were pretty aggressive, a lot of the solos got to follow suit. When working out solos I used to put a lot of thought into them in terms of phrasing, note choice, scales, and so on. At the beginning of 2008, my band decided that we wanted to pursue being a hard rock band. I figured there would be a bit of transition time in terms of style and getting into the mindset to write rock riffs, instead of metal ones. New songs got written, and I found myself in the studio several months later getting ready to record solos. Now here, is where the fun starts.

I’m sitting in my studio, with guitar in hand, working on a solo for a mid tempo 6/8 rock song. The singer and other guitarist in the band are sitting outside the control room playing video games, so no pressure. I’m jamming over this solo section on repeat to try to come up with some cool licks and find some stuff that sticks so I can start working on it. I played and played and played. I felt like I had some good ideas, but I thought that I could come up with something better. After about 45 minutes of jamming, my band mates started yelling taunts at me because I was taking too long. But, I kept thinking to myself that perfection takes time. Do it once, do it right I kept thinking! I sure wanted to nail this solo with something totally awesome, but I didn’t feel like I was doing anything special.

It was then and there that the guys left to go pick up a pack of smokes from the gas station. I sat down in my chair and started thinking about my solo. I was irritated. The music wasn’t flowing. I didn’t like what was coming out. It felt too stock. Then, suddenly a revelation hit me. STOP THINKING AND START PLAYING GUITAR!!!

The answer was simple, I was thinking way too much about what I was playing. Music is about emotion, not analysis. So I said screw it, turned up the speakers super loud, and hit record. I closed my eyes and rocked a solo. I nailed it on the 1st take! The cool thing was it sounded like nothing else that I had been playing that day. It just came out of me. I realized that sometimes you need to stop thinking so hard when soloing. Just feel it. Let it come out. Don’t think about licks, just rock out. The guys got back from the gas station and listened to the solo. They both said “whoa…. that is the best solo you’ve ever written!”
The moral of the story: Don’t think, just play!

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