Intro to Arranging Melodic Fingerstyle Solos

I can teach you, or your group, how to arrange melodic fingerstyle solos on guitar. You can contact me, here.


1.  Be able to sing the whole melody, loud and clear.

2.  Find the pulse.  Is it in twos or threes?  And find the downbeat.  Your thumb HAS to be on the downbeat!  Chords will change on it too.

3.  Figure out all the chords, preferably in several keys, singing chord numbers.

4.  Play just the bass part, using your thumb, while singing the melody.

5.  Without letting go of the needed bass strings (but without playing them yet) figure out the melody.  Remember to change chords!  If you can’t reach some notes (too high or too low) change keys, use barre chords, or try another song.  Rest your hands often!

6.  Now add your thumb, one note at a time.  Stop and think constantly.  Change chords!  Beat out the rhythm (clap, tap, whump) to line up treble and bass correctly.  Work out one phrase at a time, and go very, very slowly.

7.  When you can play the whole thing v-e-r-y slowly, without confusion, then work on the “cracks between the notes,” buzzes,  awkward fingerings and other obstructions to beauty.  Then try playing it louder and louder.  Then work on tone.  

8.  After everything else is lovely, you can speed up slowly.

Bass (Thumb) Part:

1.  Hit the root first, every time you change chords.

2.  Any chord with its root on the 6th string (E, F, G) gets the pattern 6 4 6 4.

3  Any chord with its root on the 5th string (A, B, C) gets the pattern 5 4 6 4.

4.  The D chord is a special case:

  • In the key of A use the pattern 4 3 5 3.
  • In the Key of D, use drop D tuning.  This leaves you with a weird G chord.
  • In the key of G, use a D9 chord and pretend its root is on the 6th string.

5.  Waltzes get 644644 or 544644 or 433533.

6.  If you don’t have time to play a complete bass pattern before it’s time to change chords, that’s ok.  You can stop in the middle.  Just start fresh on the next chord’s root.

Good Songs for Beginning Soloists

A Good Night Ladies
D, C Old MacDonald
G Frere Jacques
Row, Row, Row, Your Boat
Short’nin Bread
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
A, C Skip To My Lou
C Jingle Bells
Red River Valley
Camptown Races
Life Is Like a Mountain Railroad
Leaning On These Everlasting Arms
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Freight Train
Grandfather’s Clock
I Am A Pilgrim
G, A Jesus Loves Me
C It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
F Five Foot Two
Drop D Tuning
D Goodnight, Ladies
  Green, Green, Rocky Road
  Rock-A-Bye Baby
  Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
D, C Amazing Grace (waltz)


© Copyright, All Rights Reserved, Flip Breskin