Category Archives: Solos

Solo #3 Fleetwood Mac Go Your Own Way
2:37 – 3:23

First things first: the song.

Lindsey Buckingham is one of the most underrated guitarists I’ve ever heard. While he doesn’t go overboard with solos on Fleetwood Mac’s recordings, at his live shows he sometimes performs 5-7 minute long solos and his guitar work is incredible. He does it all without a pick, using his fingers and fingernails to create a distinctive sound.

His guitar is distinctive, too. He plays a custom-made Rick Turner Model 1 that was built specially for him in the 1970s. It’s a beautiful guitar, and its unique tone has served Buckingham well over his long, prolific career.

The solo is not very complex, but it’s played with a lot of style and character that I think will be challenging to capture, with little embellishments between the major phrases that require precision and finger speed. I hope that I can get close.

For some reason, despite the popularity of the song, there is a dearth of resources available for learning the solo. I ended up purchasing a superb video instruction from and had to build my own backing track from a multi-track file I found with extensive Googling.


Instructional video can be purchased for $2.99 from . This is guitar instruction for the whole song, both electric and acoustic parts and it is very, very thorough.

Tabs —

Backing Track can be downloaded in .mogg (multi-track Ogg Vorbis) format from . You’ll need a multi-track audio processing program like Audacity to open it. Then delete the two lead guitar tracks to create a backing track. I make no assertions as to the legality of this file.


Fleetwood Mac performing the song live in 2004. I took my 8-year-old daughter to Dallas to see them on this tour, and it was one of the best concerts I’ve experienced.

Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries performs the song unplugged at a French radio station. Haunting.

Performance: Smells Like Teen Spirit

I enjoyed learning this solo a whole lot more than I thought I would. Not just because it’s fairly easy — I got the notes down in about an hour — but also because it has a such compelling feel to it that I enjoyed playing over and over. Getting it to performance-quality took about a week, or about 5 hours of practice, although I did spend a good portion of that learning the rest of the song.

I’m really glad to have this one done, though, so I can move on to the next one, which is a little more challenging. Take a listen and me know what you think.

Solo #2 Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit
2:52 – 3:33

Here is Kurt Cobain’s left-handed Lake Placid Blue Competition Mustang, which he famously played in the Smells Like Teen Spirit music video. This is not his most well-known guitar, which is the baby blue Jag-Stang that he designed for Fender, but this one is more iconically related to this song.

For each solo, I will post a link to the full song, so that you can hear the solo in its full context. Click this link, then come back here and read the post while it plays in the background.

I was a little late to the party with Nirvana. I didn’t listen to much radio back then or watch a lot of MTV and when Nevermind came out, I was oblivious to it for a few months. Then one night at our band practice, our backup singer and rhythm guitarist, Donna, started playing the main riff for Smells Like Teen Spirit on her Strat. It was a very compelling riff, and I asked her what it was she was playing. She told me it was this new band called Nirvana.  I went out and bought the CD the next day.

I was blown away. Smells Like Teen Spirit is a near-perfect rock anthem. It has amazing pacing, incredible dynamic range and the production is flawless. It was the kind of song that you wanted to turn up as loud as it could go in the car and just roll, with your head practically banging on the steering wheel. I was an instant Nirvana fan.

The solo is considered pretty easy, and technically it is, but there is a lot of nuance to the sound and the playing style that will be a challenge to capture. He plays “behind the beat” for most of the solo, which most people who cover it on YouTube don’t seem to be able to replicate. He also adds vibrato to nearly every note. Nonetheless, because this solo is not as challenging, and I’m betting this is a fun song to play, I’m going to go ahead and learn the whole thing.

Getting past the first solo was a huge step for me, and I hope to build some momentum and get this one knocked out quickly. Now to work.


Instructional Video —

Tabs —

Backing Track —


Nirvana playing Smells Like Teen Spirit on Britain’s Channel 4 —

Kurt Cobain smashing a guitar at a concert —

Performance: We Will Rock You

Here is my performance of Solo #1, Queen’s We Will Rock You.

I have said before that my criteria for “completing” a solo is whether I would feel comfortable playing the solo live in front of an audience, and I feel I’ve satisfied that requirement. I’m never going to be able to play it as well as Brian May, but that was never my goal.

Here are a few thoughts about my experience:

  1. I probably should have picked an easier solo to begin with. My goal was to start with fairly easy solos to build my confidence going into the harder ones. I thought this one wouldn’t be bad, and chose it mainly for it’s symbolism, but there are some pretty tough parts.
  2. My index finger is really freaking sore. This solo makes heavy use of bar chords, especially the high A, and man does it wear out the index finger.
  3. There are some intricate details that I’m sure I’ve overlooked. I could probably work another month on it and have everything better… but it still wouldn’t be perfect and if I shoot for perfection, I’ll never get through this. I feel like I captured the essence of the solo.

I’ll be announcing solo #2 shortly, so stay tuned…

    Progress Report

    I’ve been working on the We Will Rock You solo for about 2 weeks and put in probably 10 hours of practice on it. Here’s a video showing where I am. Obviously there are some timing issues and sloppiness, but all in all, I’m pretty pleased.

    I’m playing this with a backing track that does not have any guitar, so everything you hear is me. Let me know if you think the sound of the guitar is pretty close, and if the format of the recording works. The mic on the video camera is picking up a lot of the sound of the strings which doesn’t sound great. I’m going to see if I can run directly from my amp to the video camera and bypass the mic.

    You’ll have to click through to watch the video — apparently enough of the original song is in the background that YouTube won’t embed it.

    Solo #1 Queen We Will Rock You 1:20-2:01

    Listen to the song first.

    This is a replica of Brian May’s “Red Special”, a hand-made guitar that he and his father constructed in 1963. There’s an excellent article about it’s construction on Wikipedia. He used it to play probably the most well-known rock guitar solo ever recorded, the blistering last 41 seconds of We Will Rock You.

    I remember sitting in our family room, shortly after we had moved to Texas. It must have been sometime in 1979, and my Dad was putting a record on. He handed me the cover of the album he was about to play. It was a painting of a confused-looking giant robot apparently murdering the members of the band as they dangled from his hand. Not particularly shocking these days, but I remember thinking of it as exotic and cool.

    Then I heard We Will Rock You for the first time. The tribal beat and raw, stream-of-consciousness vocals were unlike anything I’d heard before. Behind the final chorus grew a single resonant note, building with the vocal crescendo, and evolving into a raunchy solo that was so tight and perfect, while at the same time reckless and raw. I listened to that song over and over again as a kid.

    Later, the chorus of the song became a cliché, to be banished to the purgatory of professional sporting events, with AC/DC and Bachman Turner Overdrive. But the solo has always remained separate and beyond reproach, rarely played and yet always remaining shocking in it’s simplicity and uniqueness.

    I picked this as my first solo to learn not because it’s the easiest, but because it represents the perfect beginning to this project — an homage to one of my favorite bands and their amazing guitarist, Brian May.  And I picked it because it’s short.


    To learn this solo, I’m using the following web resources:


    Instructional Video:

    Backing Track:


    Here’s a girl playing the solo very well. She says it’s the first solo she learned, and she’s got a full YouTube channel of solos that’s she’s covered.

    The original music video. Classic Freddie Mercury in star-shaped shades.

    Queen performing it live at Wembley Stadium in 1986. Note Brian May’s extended solo at the end. I will not be learning this version.