Originally Posted by: "TexAxe"When I soloing, I stay in the key of the song, match my licks to the tempo or beat of the song, and introduce one or two melodic riffs that go off in a direction, yet stay within the "context" of the song.
Just to make things clearer I've basically just expanded on what TexAxe has said, in my own ways of course.
Playing solo (without another guitar playing rhythm), for me at least, requires me to find the specific melody of the song. Usually the notes of the melody are whatever the singer is singing. Anyway.. once you have a clear understanding of what the melody is, even without the CD or other person playing, then you should be able to play it without it feeling awkward. The melody itself may only be 4 or 5 notes.. the rest of the solo is basically just variations on the melody and embellishments to add a unique flavour to your solo. When I get stuck or lose my train of thought, the first thing I do is go back to the basic melody and play that once or twice through without any embellishments or variations. That puts me back on track, and I am able to get back into the groove. If you're just "noodling" around on a pentatonic minor scale or other scale, then that is possibly why you feel awkward when you play it.
Like TexAxe says.. you need to stay in the key of the WHOLE song, not just the current measure of music. Sometimes the key will change in a song.. but not that often and it's usually only once.. or goes back and forth between 2 keys. Obviously though, the longer the piece of music, the more chances for a key change. From what you described of the rhythm, it sounds like it is in the key of E Major. So you could centre the melody around the 4th or 5th note in the EMaj scale, or for a more depressing/sad feel you could go for centring everything around the 6th note. Basically.. you still play the same notes as in the EMaj scale but you tend to always start and/or stop on another note you are trying to emphasise.. the one that isn't the root note but sounds 'right' to you.
This note will be the root note of the "mode" that you construct your melody in. So let's say we decided to centre everything around the 6th note of the scale, then that sixth note would be C# and we would be playing in the C# Aeolian mode.. which could also be referred to as the the C# minor scale. Playing the melody around this 6th note does not mean just playing the EMaj scale notes starting from and ending on the C#.. it means working out a repeatable set of complimentary notes. Basic melodies are generally between 3 and 5 notes long.. but the way you play those notes is what really matters. Just as TexAxe has said, you need to "introduce one or two melodic riffs that go off in a direction, yet stay within the "context" of the song". These will be the backbone of the solo.. the melodies that you create need to be just as "cool" without the rest of the music.
EDIT: Just one last thing I forgot to mention.. Try to use 2 or more modes during your solo... Like.. let's say we decided to base the melody around the C# minor scale (Aeoilian mode) or the C# minor pentatonic scale. At some point during the solo you want to spice it up a bit, so you play a section of the solo using the EMaj scale (Ionian mode). This will make the constant, limited choice of strong pentatonic notes sound even more powerful when you return to them. Or you could do the complete opposite.. or whatever you want that sounds right to you.