Loading the player...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 8: Openers

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 30 **

Hi everyone. In this guitar lesson I want to explore a subject I have called 'Openers'. An 'Opener' is a guitar lick, line or phrase that starts your guitar solo. Every good guitar solo should have a start, a middle and an end and every good improvisation should ideally take the listener on a bit of a journey, so having a few good opening ideas at hand that introduces your guitar solo is always a good idea. It immediately lets the listener know that they are going to like what you do next and it gets their attention.

Obviously there are a million and one ways to start a guitar improvisation, but I personally try to avoid the dull, tired, generic phrases and that get used time and time again. The typical tone below bend into a root note has its place, as does the minor 3rd Blues bend to a root note, but unless you follow these up with something particularly musical and creative, you really are showing a huge lack of imagination. So I think how you start a solo is quite a big consideration, and is something to think about if you haven't thought about it before.

If this is something of a weakness in your playing, then you might want to consider actually having a mental stockpile of ideas that you can execute at the front of a solo. Most phrases and licks can be adjusted to suit many musical genres and moods, and if you had, let's say, 10 great opening ideas in your muscle memory, this would get you through many an 'on the spot' solo. The opening ideas you actually use can come from many places. They could actually be part of a learnt solo from one of your favourite players, or preferably they could be something you have composed and come up with yourself that you feel sounds cool and reflects what you want to say on the guitar. There is no right or wrong way with this as long as you are aware that other guitarists and musicians form judgements on your playing very quickly, so a good start to your big solo, whether learnt or improvised, is fairly important if you want to run with the big guns.

Sometimes the 'less is more' approach can be the perfect musical choice. It shows taste and restraint and gives your improv somewhere to go. The big trap with this is that your touch, tone, vibrato and string bending has to be really very good to make this approach work how it should. Even though the less is more approach can work great, try to avoid tired and over used licks. Think more about repeating phrases, or call and response ideas, or even playing around with the main hook line. Whatever you do, the detail is always your touch, feel and vibrato when you  go down the 'less is more' road, which is a road that isn't used enough by many players out there today in my opinion.

In the tutorial I explore some possibilities from A dorian over a chord sequence I quickly played in to my TC loop pedal. The chords all diatonically belong to Gmaj, and when you strip away the extensions and colourations I tend to add to stock chords, we end up with Amin / Cmaj / Gmaj / Bmin. As I said before, there are a thousand ways to approach this subject and I played a few ideas on the day that to me sounded musically strong over this type of sequence. In real life, I personally wouldn't over think starting a solo and just used my mood, experience and instinct to hopefully play something four times out of five that counts as a good opener. Where I might want to think more about it is when a solo is going to become something permanent, as part of a recording, so you are welcome to take a listen to my album "Complaints about the Noise" to hear how I try to avoid obvious clichés in solo openers, solo middles and solo endings whilst still trying to remain exciting and tasteful. When it comes to instrumental music, especially instrumental guitar music, everything we look at in Pro Concepts becomes relevant and magnified, and hopefully my album illustrates this in some small way.

I am honoured and humbled to have received some emails from Steve Lukather about the album. He used the words, and I quote, "Bad Arse"...... which I think is a musical term for "not bad"!

Try to consider your opening phrases when you play and try to avoid the bland, and the world will be a better place!


Up Next

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 4 - Part 3: More Groove Playing

Develop your Funk and R&B rhythm guitar playing, groove & techniques in this pro rhythm ...

Michael Casswell Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 11: Octave Lines

Learn how to play George Benson style octave jazz guitar licks and lines in this ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 10: Inverted Pedal Notes

Learn how to use pedal tones in your guitars solos and improvisation to sound musical ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 9: Muting

Michael Casswell takes you through right and left hand muting guitar exercises to help you ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 8: Openers

Michael Casswell gives advice and tuition on how to start your guitar solos in this ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 7: Incorporating Slides

Michael Casswell shows you how to add slides to your guitar licks, phrases and solos ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 6: Rhythm Details - Vamping Continued

Michael Casswell focuses on making you an outstanding rhythm guitar player in this pro rhythm ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 5: Double Stop Vamping

Learn how to vamp and create interesting double stop rhythm guitar parts in this pro ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 4 - Jazz Funk Leanings

Learn how to add funk and jazz guitar ideas and techniques to you rock guitar ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 2 - Building A Run

Michael Casswell teaches you how to improvise and create guitar runs using Legato and Hybrid ...

Michael Casswell’s - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 1: Two Essential Guitar Pedals

Michael Casswell takes you through a simple, tried and tested gain stacking method he employs ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 2 - Part 3: Groove

This Michael Casswell rhythm guitar lesson will teach you how to add great feel, groove ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 3: Pro String Bending

Michael Casswell helps you learn how to bend strings accurately like a pro in this ...

You May Like

Andy James - Metal Edge Part 1: 10 Pentatonic Shred Licks

Andy James teaches 10 ground breaking fast pentatonic shred guitar licks in this metal guitar ...

Nick Jennison - Creating Drums On Acoustic Guitar

In this percussive acoustic guitar techniques lesson, Nick Jennison shows you how to emulate drums ...

Sam Bell - Extended Range Secrets Part 2: Seven String Guitar Approaches

Sam Bell continues our series of 7 string metal guitar lessons, stepping into the world ...

Nick Jennsion - Extended Range Secrets Part 1

Nick Jennison steps into the world of extended range guitars with this exclusive 7 string ...

Nick Jennison - An Introduction To Slide Guitar

Get started with slide guitar playing in this beginners guide to slide guitar with Nick ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 17: Englishman In New York

Learn how to play this amazing fingerstyle guitar arrangement of Englishman In New York by ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 11: Using Simple Syncopated Rhythm Parts In Arrangements

In this rhythm guitar lesson, Sam Bell shows you how to create space within your ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 18: Lullaby

Take this fingerstyle guitar lesson and learn how to play the beautiful solo classical guitar ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 16: Yesterday

Giorgio Serci teaches you how to play The Beatles classic Yesterday as a full fingerstyle ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 9: Chordal Tapping Extensions

Learn how to play the fundamentals of chordal tapping guitar techniques with this great guitar ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 15: The Lonely Man

Giorgio Serci teaches you how to play The Lonely Man for classical guitar; made famous ...

Danny Gill - Pentatonic Sequences That Can Be Used Anytime, Anywhere, And On Any Song Part 3

Rejuvenate your pentatonic guitar soloing with these great guitar exercises, sequences and routines in this ...

Chris Buck - Rock & Soul Part 5: Play With Repetition Part 2

Chris Buck presents you with more reasons to use repetition in your guitar solos as ...

Danny Gill - Pentatonic Sequences That Can Be Used Anytime, Anywhere, And On Any Song Part 2

Uncover some game changing pentatonic sequences and guitar licks with the help of Danny Gill ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 14 - Momentum (aka Matteo)

Giorgio Serci takes you through his fingerstyle guitar composition Momentum in this creative acoustic guitar ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 8: Using Triads To Create Melodic Movement Within A Part

Add a sense of melody and movement to your rhythm guitar parts using triads. In ...

Danny Gill - Pentatonic Sequences That Can Be Used Anytime, Anywhere, And On Any Song Part 1

Play more interesting pentatonic guitar licks and runs with the power of scale sequences. Danny ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 13: A Walk In The Park

The jazz influenced fingerstyle solo guitar piece A Walk In The Park is taught by ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 7: Spread Triads

Sam Bell gives you an insight into modern guitar chord voicings using spread triads to ...

1 2 3 18
Top magnifiercross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram