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


Platinum Member
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.
You're not wrong. When I played covers, I'd master ~16 bars worth of phrases for any given song. Night to night variance would be connecting the phrases, or change the inflection, or variance in cadence... But the phrases would ultimately be the same. For many songs, I would also have another backup ~16 bars memorized, in case we needed to fill time for the singer to get back to the stage, or the crowd was jumpin' and the singer gave the nod.

The jam-band thing was where I would improvise, though securely in the confines of the CAGED methodology. So again, I had a dozen shapes to choose from, and the improv was how to connect them, the inflection, the cadence, the bends, etc.


Staff member
Glorious example (wait for it @ 3:25).
And the breakout transition at 5:30 = sublime!!!!

As for the verbatim vs. "version" argument, it absolutely depends on the focus of the act in question.

Tribute: There's no discussion - it's note for note, tone for tone, stage stance, costume, etc, etc.
Cover: Key / signature elements should all be there, and confidently delivered, but so long as it adds rather than subtracts from the overall result, augmentation / addition / subtraction according to the character / vibe of the band, is not only acceptable, to me, it's desirable. Of course, verbatim is also cool.
Rendition: This can be any arrangement / style you like.

In all cases, so long as the parts or overall song delivery are planned & executed as such, all is good. When the part or song delivery is compromised through lack of ability, or just sheer laziness, that's a totally different matter.

In my band rehearsals / tryouts, we always start with a rough jam to ascertain song suitability, then return performing the original parts / arrangement as a foundation before deciding on changes or not.