Lead Guitar...


In popular music, a guitar solo is a melodic passage, section, or entire piece of music written for an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. Guitar solos, which often contain varying degrees of improvisation, are used in many styles of popular music such as blues, jazz, rock and metal styles such as swing and jazz fusion. Guitar solos are also used in classical music forms such as chamber music and concertos.

Guitar solos range from unaccompanied works for a single guitar to compositions with accompaniment from other instruments. The accompaniment musicians for a guitar solo can range from a small ensemble such as a jazz quartet or a rock band, to a large ensemble such as an orchestra or big band. Unaccompanied acoustic guitar music is found in folk and classical music dating as far back as the instrument has existed, and the use of an acoustic guitar as a solo voice within an ensemble dates back at least to the Baroque concerto.

Even though guitar solos are used in a wide range of genres, the term guitar solo often refers specifically to the rock music genre. The dramatic, amplified electric guitar solo has become a characteristic part of rock music. Since the 1960s, electric guitarists have often altered the timbre of their guitar adding electronic guitar effects such as reverb, distortion, delay, and chorus to make the sound fuller and add harmonic overtones.

Rock bands often have two guitarists, designated 'lead' and 'rhythm', with the 'lead' player performing the solos while the 'rhythm' player accompanies with chords or riffs. Most examples of rock music are based around songs in very traditional forms. The main formal features are therefore verses, choruses, and bridges. The guitar solo is usually the most significant instrumental (that is, non-vocal) section of a mainstream rock song. In other rock-related genres, such as pop and dance music, the keyboard synthesizer usually plays this melodic role.

This use of a guitar instrumental interlude in rock music has its roots in blues musicians such as John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and T-Bone Walker.

In most cases, the rock guitar solo is a short instrumental section of the song. In the classic verse-chorus form, it often falls between the second chorus and third verse. As well, extended guitar solos are sometimes used as the outro of a song, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird".

The use of guitar solos in heavy metal was notable during the 1980s, when rapid-fire "shredding" guitar solos were common; a virtuostic lead guitarist of a band might be as well-known as the singer. During this time the use of techniques such as harmonics became more widely used. Later, guitarists who had developed considerable technical facility began to release albums which consisted only of guitar compositions. Guitar solos in popular music went out of fashion in the mid 1990s] coinciding with the rise in popularity of nu metal and grunge, which do not feature guitar solos prominently. During this period, guitar solos became less prominent in many pop and popular rock music styles; either being trimmed down to a short four-bar transition, or omitted entirely, in a vast departure from the heavy usage of solos in classic rock music from the '60s, '70s, '80s, and early '90s. Classic rock revival music heavily features soloing, along with classic rock bands that are still active, as of 2009.Occasionally, there will be a two part guitar solo with both the rhythm and lead guitar taking solos. (e.g. "Master of Puppets" by Metallica), or dual solos with both lead and rhythm playing complementary solos such as with Black Sabbath's "War Pigs", Metallica's "Four Horsemen", or Megadeth's "Mechanix".