Learn To operation Shred Guitar II: Soloing On A 'Dead End Road'

Hello once again fellow shredders, and welcome to Operation Shred Guitar II: Soloing on a Dead End Road! My name is Jake Popowski, and in this lesson, you will learn how to play my solo in "Dead End Road" by Damned Empire, and I will teach you about how I go about writing a solo over odd time signatures.

A quick preface, if the licks in the last Operation Shred Guitar lesson were too difficult, these are a bit simpler, and this solo is definitely learn-able for guitarists of almost any level. This doesn't mean that all of the licks are easy. Some may take a bit of practice. Remember, always play things slowly and cleanly until you can play them with ease at faster speeds. With that out of the way, here we go!

Shredding Ye Olde Time Signatures to Pieces

This song in particular is not overly technical, but the one challenging element throughout is the time signature changes quite often, and for the solo section that's no different. The solo starts in 6/4 for three bars, then it goes to 5/4 for a fourth bar. The next 4 bars are straight 6/4. The end of the solo is in 7/4 for two bars, and 4/4 for the final four. So now that you know that, you might ask yourself, how would I begin to solo over that, how can I make a coherent melody, and after asking several more questions, you may ask yourself, why in the world am I talking to yourself?!? Well, I'm not sure I can help you with that last one, but the other two I think I should be able give you an answer.

What I do when I come upon any piece of music that I want to solo over, is just listen to it a few times, without playing, and get a feel for where the notes change, and maybe try to hear a melody or two in my head. I tend to ignore thinking about the time signatures, and just focus on hearing and visualizing what the song needs. Once I've done this, I will usually pick up my guitar and start trying to work out some ideas. This is where it gets a little difficult to explain, and it honestly varies song by song, so, I'll just explain my through process behind this song.

So, I sat down, and just listened a few times, and visualized a few ideas. I knew that this was a slightly slower feeling song, and even though starting out with some crazy fast shred licks sounded appealing, I knew it wouldn't fit the vibe. So I went the opposite route, for the first three bars, I played some slow bends and a trill (I will have the solo written out a bit later in the lesson, feel free to scroll down and look at the tab, and listen to the solo while you read this). I then hit the 5/4 bar, and decided that because it added in my mind almost a plot twist for lack of better words to the music, that doing something totally opposite slow bends (In this case, a 16th note triplet run) would be perfect. It also was made easy by the bends I played in bar 3.

Once I got through that, I knew I wanted to go right back to a melody, and knew that at the end of the next 4 bars, it would change to 7/4. So I made the decision to keep it almost completely melodic for the next 4 bars, especially for the last 6/4 bar (To me, it seemed like it would make transitioning a bit easier if ends on a slower note). Once that was done, I was on the 7/4 section. I knew I wanted that to pop, so I started with a tapped string skipping pentatonic run. I did that for the first 7/4 bar, for the second bar of the 7/4 section, I figured to close it out going to a melodic line would be perfect, and it would help go into the 4/4 section. For the rest of the solo section, which changed to a more manageable 4/4, I just stuck to slow melody lines, and ended with a slightly delayed bend.

Now, please bare in mind, that these thoughts were almost all subconscious, and very hard to put into words. I don't analyze what I'm doing to this extreme consciously while I'm playing, but once I'm done I will find some tendencies here and there, and I like to analyze what I do. The above was just my analysis of how I wrote the solo to the song.

Some succinct tips for soloing over changing time signatures:

1. Listen to the backing! This is by far the most important step. Just listen to it, as a blank canvas, don't even think about the time signatures, just try and hear melodies over it.

2. Don't be afraid to experiment with your phrasing!

3. Play to the song. If it's a crazy shred song, you can get away with shredding throughout, but, if it's a softer song, like the one this lesson is about, a 100% shred solo, that summons on the near by shreddasaurus rexs may not be the best choice.

4. Don't over think it!

5. This is more of a personal opinion, but I find fast time signature changes a great place to experiment with contrasting melodies and lines, especially if they change rapidly over a few bars. Don't be afraid to move around the neck, and even do something completely contrasting to the rest of the solo, as long as it fits in the end!

After all this typing, you guys are probably like, hey, man, this guy is like, typing on and on about this solo to a song we've never even heard, I just wanna learn some fast shred licks man, come on! Well, let's get to the fun part now!!!

Soloing on a 'Dead End Road'

As I have explained a lot of the solo in the above text, I will keep this section pretty text short. As with every lesson I've written, practice everything slowly! I can't say that enough. One will never join the league of shreddsaurus' if one never learns to play cleanly.
Some ideas of what my symbols in the tab mean:

Tr=Trill
B=Bend
h=hammer on
p=pull off
()=hold note
s=slide
t=tap

Also, please refer to the recording for note duration, I will divide everything up into the proper bars in the tab however.

e|---------------------------------|-----------|-----------------------------|
B|-15--------------15---15---15----|-----------|-----------------------------|
G|-14B-------------14B--14B--14B---|---0tr2----|-----------------------------|
D|---------------------------------|-----------|-----------------------------|
A|---------------------------------|-----------|-----------------------------|
E|---------------------------------|-----------|-3B-3B-3B-5B-----------------|
e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|-------------------------------------------0h5h7-------0h4h5---------------|
D|-------------------0h5h7-------0h4h5-0h5h7-------0h4h5---------------------|
A|--------0h3h5-0h5h7------0h3h5---------------------------------------------|
E|--0h3h5--------------------------------------------------------------------|
e|-------------|---------------|-------------------------|-------------------|
B|-s7-5--------|---------------|-------------------------|-------------------|
G|------s4-4---|-4-5-4-5-4-----|---------------------4-5-|-7-5-4-5-----------|
D|-------------|------------s7-|-------------5-7-4-5-----|-------------------|
A|-------------|---------------|-----3-5-5-7-------------|-------------------|
E|-------------|---------------|-3-5---------------------|-------------------|
e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------12h15h17t---------------|
G|-------------------------------12h14h17t---------------------12h14h17t-----|
D|-----------12h14h17t---------------------12h14h17t-------------------------|
A|---------------------12h14h17t---------------------------------------------|
E|-12h15h17t-----------------------------------------------------------------|

(bar 9 continued)

e|-12h15h17tp15p12-----|---------------------|-------------------------------|
B|-----------------15B-|---------------------|-------------------------------|
G|---------------------|--12-11-12-11--------|-------------------------------|
D|---------------------|--------------12s14--|-------12----------------------|
A|---------------------|---------------------|-12-14----14-------------------|
E|---------------------|---------------------|-------------------------------|
e|----------------------|---------------------------|------------------------|
B|----------------------|---------------------------|------------------------|
G|----------------------|---12-12-12-12-12-11-12-12-|-(12)B------------------|
D|-12-14-14-12-14-14-14-|---------------------------|------------------------|
A|----------------------|---------------------------|------------------------|
E|----------------------|---------------------------|------------------------|

So, now after seeing that, you're probably wondering, what should this actually sound like. Well, at the very end of this conclusive rambling, I will put a link to the lyric video for the song. Before that though, just keep in mind, that music first and foremost should be an expression, and overthinking things while you do them is not necessarily the way to go. I only write these types of articles to give you guys an idea of what goes on in my mind when I'm writing a solo. I know when I first started playing, and, even nowadays, would love to read what some of my favorite guitar players think when they write their solos. I hope this article can be of some use to some people, even if all they get out of it is learning a few solo licks.

Here's the video of the song, the solo starts at around 2:35 or so, if you don't want to sit through the whole video.

 

Click here to go to BAJAAO

 

Until next time, keep shredding shred fans! May your journey into the realm of the shred lords lead thee to the promise land of shreddasaurus rexs hot women money and even more money (And perhaps a magical leprechaun, some llamas and a yoda or two)!

All the Best,
Jake Popowski

About the Author:
Jake Popowski. If you are interested in any session work or private lessons, send me a message on UG, I don't check them every day, but I will get back to you!


Ashutosh Pande
Ashutosh Pande

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