Making Opportunities For The Guitar To Stand Out As A Solo Instrument

There are many instruments which are called upon during particular passages of music to play a solo piece. From pianos to violins, from the gentle flute to the crashing and throbbing of a drum solo, it is often a very distinctive moment that draws attention to the unique voice and characteristics of the particular instrument. But perhaps one of the most called upon instruments in this capacity as the guitar. Whether a classic acoustic guitar, or an electric guitar, there are very often moments in performances where the guitar is called upon for a solo performance, and all attention is focussed on the performance of this particular instrument.

Of course, where guitars are concerned it may very often be the case that the entire piece of music has been written for the guitar to play solo, and this is one reason why many people choose to take up learning to play guitar. There are many pieces of music which allow the guitar to be the only instrument required to play, and with a depth and range of voices available, the guitar is perfectly able to create a mood and feeling with a piece of music that does not require the support of other instruments in order to entertain the audience. There are only a few instruments which have this versatility, being able to be performed solo quite adequately, as well as being a very effective component within a band or group.

Today there are many instances in popular music, rock music and jazz or blues, where the guitar is called upon part way through a piece of music to carry out a solo instrumental break. Very often this is a moment where all attention is drawn to the instrument, and particularly to the performer. It is often the case that the performer will use this opportunity to demonstrate their skill with the instrument, and although the performance will follow the written music, there are often occasions when the solo performance introduces variations and improvised components which make each performance unique and special.

Looking back into the far distant past of the guitar and its related instrumental cousins, there have always been examples of the guitar being used in this way, either as an instrument which plays solo for the entire piece of music, or which has an opportunity within a performance to play on its own. In many instances the guitar was the only instrument played to accompany either a solo voice or ensemble of voices, and today this is often the case for acoustic or classic guitars. For those learning to play guitar, the fact that a classic guitar can be used without the need for any other accompanying instruments, and can be sung along with, makes it an ideal instrument to allow the performer to learn at their own pace, but still able to put on a show of sorts.

The one guitar which has less opportunity for solos is the bass guitar, more usually referred to as a bass electric guitar, although there have been an increasing number of examples in both popular music and rock music where the bass guitar has had an opportunity to step forwards from the shadows and show the audience just what it is really capable of. In many cases this has been as a result of the performer themselves being noted for their playing ability, but it has helped tremendously in bringing more attention to this instrument, and encouraged more people to learn it.
Sabung Ayam
Austin Hanks with ZZ Top
The celebrated songwriter's follow-up to 2005's solo debut Salt of the Earth features Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Ferrone of Tom Petty, and Jimmy Hall of Jeck Beck and Wet Willy.
Produced by Grammy Award Winner DAVID BIANCO (Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, U2, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and many more). Co-produced by Austin Hanks and Executive Producer, Billy Gibbons.
A singer-songwriter and left-handed guitar player from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of Alabama, Austin Hanks currently resides in southern California. His music has been described as “rockin’ country soul” and “genuine juke and twang from the dirty south.”
Hanks' country-rock sound doubles down on roadhouse honky tonk with infectious southern boogie guitars. His raspy Jackson Browne-like tenor delivers each song with undeniable grooves and frontman power not unlike rock and roll legends Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.