All That Jazz: Learning Solos Played on Other Instruments to Expand Your Improvisational Approach
The following content is related to the May 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.
A study technique that has proven invaluable to me over the years has been transcribing—figuring out, note for note—solos played on other instruments besides the guitar, which is something I still spend quite a lot of time doing. Early on, I would focus on solos by other guitar players, such as Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy.
This is something I still do, but at a certain point in my development I began expanding my transcribing endeavors to include music played on other instruments, such as the saxophone, trumpet and piano. Doing this has provided me with lots of fresh ideas and approaches that I would then incorporate into my own soloing ideas and techniques.
I like to emulate a vocal-like sound when I’m soloing, often using a stereo chorus or delay effect to attain that feel. I also strive to achieve that by employing a legato approach, using hammer-ons, pull-offs and string-bends, and using a light touch when alternate picking in an effort to retain some of that legato feel.