What's the deal with lead guitarists not covering solos properly?

bud7h4

Silver Member
It can be as difficult to play solos by certain guitarists as it is to sing like different vocalists. Replicating a solo isn't just about notes. There can be a kind of fretboard acrobatics involved in making those notes happen that comes naturally to the original artist but not to many others. Someone like Slash has a very generic style, and anyone who can play should be able to sound just like him. But Angus Young? Not so much.

Although to the OP's point, a decent guitarist should be able to at least come close enough rather than play something entirely different.
 

Square

Member
As a guitarist for many decades (with limited band experience) I have always tried to nail the solos 100%.

When I go see a major act live, I have heard the songs and have expectations that they will play them as recorded. Others I guess want to see something different... When I see something different it is always a bit of a disappointment to me. Same goes for cover bands.

If I, as a player, deviate from the written/recorded solo It will be in a middle (extended) section of the solo. I would begin and end it as written.

Just because the original solo was written in Em pentatonic does not mean you can just blast away in Em pentatonic and that is good enough.

My opinion.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Hmmm.... all those great Dylan covers..... Hendrix certainly covered the organ solo in Like a Rolling Stone well.
I enjoy innovation or re-interpreation of songs, and would be disappointed to hear the exact same versions and solos of the original recording by any live band, including the ones who wrote the song.
 
Last edited:

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I definetly grew up on Cream, Hendrix, Dire Straits and popular jazz.

What irks me a bit when talking about being authentic, is that people seem to mostly be talking about what people did on record i 3 radio friendly minutes. What they did live was something completely different, and from what I understand, it was a jazz mentality, but simplified with the vocabulary these young musicians knew and understood.

I think it was Kenny Werner who posed the question in one of his lectures, "if Thelonius Monk was alive today, would the win the Theolonius Monk competition? Answer being that he pobably didn't sound enough like Monk.

Most well known msicians are evolving artists with many periods and many people prefer just a few of those peiods, some of their albums, some of their work.

When we copy blindly and that's all we see, we forget that the great thing about our favourite artists is /was their uniqueness and individual expression.

I always like the MIles Davis philosophy. Though inside his general idea and framework he hired people to come be themselves. That's what's been done on any session where there's not a stable band. I started to notice this change when I went to university in 1999. It was all about being "authentic" and sounding like someone else. I think that's really really sad.

Now, I won't hide my obvious Landau and Colaiuta influence. That's something different though, and I can assure you that without the name that approach to playing for the most part isn't very popular where I've been. They simply were the last of my big influences before I just let that whole thing go. With both it's the period from 00-07 that represent what I like most about both of them and that's influenced the starting point of my own sound the most.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
I must be too simple minded for any of this to bother me.

"It" either works or it doesn't. What makes this even more profound is that it either works for ME or it doesn't.

We listen to a piece of music, look at a painting or a photograph, a building, ANYTHING where subjective opinion is warranted,and WE determine it's value to "us". Then, typically, we find others whose subjective opinion aligns with ours and together we say-"this is GOOD." Ultimately if enough people say "this is good" money will often change hands as the "thing's" value increases.

So......what?

So, there is no room for a right vs. wrong discourse. Because all we have given is "I" or "WE" like, prefer, think, wish, etc.

I have no more right to say (demand?) "a guitarist MUST cover the exact solo than I have to say a guitarist "MUST" improvise the solo.

In other words, "it's ALL good" and there is room for everybody.

Or not.....lol
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Anybody else experience this, much?
Is this a thing, or am I just unlucky in that regard?
The choice of Note-4-note versus improvised versus simplified is something the guitarist determines ahead of time and communicates to the band. There are situations where each is appropriate, and each can be equally glorious.

Glorious example (wait for it @ 3:25).
 

mrfingers

Senior Member
If you’re going to see a tribute band vs a cover band, you’re expectations are going to differ...especially for so-called “jam” bands. One of the bands I’m in has 2 guitarists who figure out trading solos where the original songs don’t. Doesn’t bother me, in fact, allows me more fill-fun, so-to-speak.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
The choice of Note-4-note versus improvised versus simplified is something the guitarist determines ahead of time and communicates to the band. There are situations where each is appropriate, and each can be equally glorious.

Glorious example (wait for it @ 3:25).
Okay...so...dumbfounded...just. Dumbfounded. So many thoughts coming through listening-no EXPERIENCING that...

WARNING: subjective opinion ahead

First-you win the thread. Hands down-all mouths should be stopped. The superiority of THAT as a performance over a note-for-note 'tribute' cannot and should not be denied. I've been listening to the original since it was released and never felt the emotional power like I just did in any "cover" or version of that tune. Not even close... I can't see anyone involved in music, playing-covers or otherwise, who would not agree, that for sheer in the moment excitement, that version would be a trump card.

Secondly-THANK YOU for introducing me to those guys, I'm hooked after one listen. If I have a hankering for "Have a Cigar" I will NOT be listening to the original any time soon.

Thirdly-the "kid" on guitar... Like he channeled a young Carlos Santana doing a Floyd tune... Fantastic playing, but more fantastic is he believeably FELT every note as it came off the fret board. Just a joy to watch this guy play. And without any vibe of superiority or cockiness...

Fourth and last, every other member doing their part "for the song" collectively making it "perfect"...

GREAT post, Kamak!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I echo Mongrel about that video. Wow! I wish all music was executed with that mix of passion and restraint, just gorgeous.
I have to wonder if it’s easier for people influenced by song X to play song X...than the original artist...because the people who are influenced by song X worship it.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
The choice of Note-4-note versus improvised versus simplified is something the guitarist determines ahead of time and communicates to the band. There are situations where each is appropriate, and each can be equally glorious.
I think that this is a luxury that guitar players have that drummers don't get to enjoy to the same degree. We have very little latitude to improvise our parts (when covering hit records, to be precise) without running the risk of substantially changing the feel of the song.

Many of the examples here celebrate the original artists improvising their own material (Hendrix, Clapton, SRV et al.) which is fine because you KNOW they could pull off the note-for-note rendition if called upon to do so. They have earned the right to change stuff if they want to.

I'm talking about guitar players who NEVER learned the original part and wing their solo every time. Not simplified - completely different. The rest of the song is bang-on until solo time and then off the rails it goes. I have ZERO doubt that the guitarist playing the lead in "Have a Cigar" can play the original solo note-for-note. He knows how the original goes and uses that as a basis for improvisation. He didn't just fill those bars with random noodling, in other words.

I'm not a slave to perfection but I think it's a shame to learn the verses and choruses properly and then wing the solos each and every time. It's not like they can't learn the parts, it's like they haven't bothered to. Big difference.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I think that this is a luxury that guitar players have that drummers don't get to enjoy to the same degree. We have very little latitude to improvise our parts (when covering hit records, to be precise) without running the risk of substantially changing the feel of the song.
Yes and no.. Or rather... I don't know. Take a listen to their cover of "No Quarter", where the drummer drops Bonham's pseudo-swing/feel in favor of what is ultimately a straightforward "Stone Temple Pilots" drum groove.


While I don't consider this to be better than the original, it certainly is more mainstream/digestible. Or at the very least, it is remarkably entertaining and easy to listen to.

Thirdly-the "kid" on guitar... Like he channeled a young Carlos Santana doing a Floyd tune... Fantastic playing, but more fantastic is he believeably FELT every note as it came off the fret board. Just a joy to watch this guy play. And without any vibe of superiority or cockiness...
Indeed. The kid is pulling from a number of influences. You can hear the Charlie Parker licks that Frampton lifted. SRV bends, Page licks, even a bit of Eric Shenkman's work on Rosetta Stone. In an analytical/academic sense, the individual licks played alone aren't difficult, but fluidly putting them back to back like he did is the equivalent of a gold-medal-worthy-gymnastics floor routine.
I'm talking about guitar players who NEVER learned the original part and wing their solo every time. Not simplified - completely different. The rest of the song is bang-on until solo time and then off the rails it goes. I have ZERO doubt that the guitarist playing the lead in "Have a Cigar" can play the original solo note-for-note. He knows how the original goes and uses that as a basis for improvisation. He didn't just fill those bars with random noodling, in other words.
I hear you, The guitarist you describe is either a bad guitarist, or a good guitarist that should be in a band that plays originals. Either way, on behalf of other guitarists, I apologize for his behavior. Understand that playing the instrument consistently well, like the guy in the Cigar vid, is truly difficult, and requires a fair mastery of multiple musical disciplines in addition to copious woodshed time. Also understand that you might hurt his feelings if you confront him, because every man's wife is beautiful and their children are smart (if-you-get-my-drift).


I do apologize if anyone gets cramps from prolonged stank-face exposure... It happens.
 
Last edited:

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I would call it a lead not a solo. A solo is when the player is totally responsible for the sound, the other members may even leave the stage, eg solo, in practice people often play minimal comps.

In trumpet and jazz there are often distinctions between players that are solosists and players that are leads. Its typically considered two different skill sets, and even different genres.

In your case I would suggest to clarify the expectation, is it a lead or a solo.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
You're confusing solo breaks in wind ensembles and orchestras to a solo break in a rock, jazz, or blues group. Rock evolved from blues. The solo breaks for rock, jazz, and blue are not meant to be like the carefully scored solo instrumentation of an orchestra or wind ensemble piece. Totally different things. Rock isn't that. It's like jazz and blues. The soloist takes the lead and tells a story. It ain't gonna be like the original unless it is a tribute band and all you're trying to do is mimic a recording.

The premise and thesis of this thread is silly and amateur.

No, a solo is not by definition ad lib. A solo by definition is where one musician is featured prominently or by themselves.

In many years of playing in wind ensembles, orchestras, and pits, I can attest that most of the solos there are written out and the soloist is expected to adhere to them. Jazz and blues tend to have more improv solos by nature, but that's part of how the music is performed and delivered. It's an expected quality of a musician in those genres.

For popular music played by a cover band, I think the musicians should make a strong attempt to cover the music as originally recorded. The audience generally knows the songs and any departure in lyrics or melody can be jarring and distracting. The exception would be if the song is being reinterpreted to an entirely new style or sound. Even then, most reinterpretations rely on the melody of the original solo, in order to have more impact.

Again, my opinion, but if a soloist improvs a solo in a cover tune with little to no acknowledgement of the original melody or arrangement, it's a mark of amateurism.
 
Last edited:

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Exactly why I loathe Joe Bonamassa. The acrobatics and shredding the blues genre.

I will say the thing that does irk me is if we are playing a blues song for instance, and a guy puts a rock lead in it. I get that a lot. It's important to me to remain faithful to the genre. Blues....has space. It has tension and release. It isn't trying to impress, it tries to convey and emote. Guys who fill the space with acrobatics have other agendas taking priority. That's the absolute minimum ante that needs to be there in my mind, being faithful to the genre.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
I don't think Zeppelin ever played anything the same way twice. They were known for their improv and "practicing" while playing live on tour.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Although I like it when bands improvise, Count Basie and Duke Ellington both handwritten solos for the band, so I get that mentality to give the people what they expect to hear. It kinda depends on what you expect. The Eagles don't really stray too far from recordings, either (and when they do, it's not very good). Zeppelin and others, yeah, you want different. Tough question. I would say start from the point that you can nail the solos -for-note, then let the band leader or the crowd dictate what you actually do.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
You're confusing solo breaks in wind ensembles and orchestras to a solo break in a rock, jazz, or blues group. Rock evolved from blues. The solo breaks for rock, jazz, and blue are not meant to be like the carefully scored solo instrumentation of an orchestra or wind ensemble piece. Totally different things. Rock isn't that. It's like jazz and blues. The soloist takes the lead and tells a story. It ain't gonna be like the original unless it is a tribute band and all you're trying to do is mimic a recording.

The premise and thesis of this thread is silly and amateur.
I'm not confusing anything. A solo is not by definition improv. That was the point I was trying to make. Many solos do and should involve improv, but that's not what solo means in any genre of music. If it did, the word would be improvvisazione.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I get annoyed when guitarists skimp out on the solo. It's just as important to me as the words. When listening to music, I like to sing along and whistle the guitar solo. If it ain't right, I definitely notice.

I have been lucky to have worked with guitarists who obsess about getting everything right, including solos. Y'all need to find better guitarists if they can't or don't want to learn the solo.

As for cover vs tribute bands, a cover band still needs to learn the solo. If they don't, they aren't really covering the whole song. Just because a cover band skips around between artists doesn't mean they get to half-ass it.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
These are the type of nuances that separate the cover bands who barely get paid vs. the ones who get the corporate and better paying gigs...

If you're playing every groove and fill note for note, or at least accenting appropriately go find a better group of people to play with. They're looking for you. :)

That being said, without actual examples it is hard to specifically criticize any guitar players choice of soloing. My opinion is that as long as the guitarist's solo is the same from take to take I'm cool and can find accents to latch on to. If there's an accent in the original solo that I'd really like the guitarist to hit, I'll ask them to hit it and they are always excited to have a syncopated part to look forward to.
 
Last edited:

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Personally this drives me nuts. It's a cover band. Play the covers properly.

The terms playing a solo or playing a "lead" are often swapped . I'd say 95% or more solos o r leads are pre written. Most bands don't just wing guitar solos on stage or it would be a train wreck. They are rehearsed, practiced, and played the same. Sure they may swap a few notes here and there, but on average a guitarist isn't going to rip a new solo every night on tour. That is why when you adlib it in your cover band it sounds so out of place.

That being said, in some styles like jazz ,this is totally different. The song will be in a specific key, but is much more free to improvise. If you are playing classics though I think playing them as written is the ultimate goal.

If you want to play originals, write songs and start a band. It's weird to hear a song I have heard 1000 times then have someone think they are doing a better job and ruin it. I'd be willing to bet almost 0% of the time someone in the crowd will be thinking, "man, the song REALLY should have been written that way" Put the ego aside and play the part :)
 
Top