How to Write Instrumental Guitar Songs


Solo guitar music can bring joy to your ears in any genre. Solo guitarists who don't sing, such as the popular rocker Joe Satriani, make an art of writing instrumentals using the guitar as the main focus. The versatility of the guitar, with its harmony and rhythm playing roles, is like the piano in that it lends itself to expansive instrumental writing possibilities.

Things You'll Need

  • Guitar
  • Recording device (eight track preferred)
  • Blank sheet music
  • Experiment to find a main theme you can structure your song on. Try a couple of chord patterns to see if one catches your ear. Play a couple of lead phrases until you find one with a strong melodic sound. Since there are no vocals to rely on, your guitar will need to fill in with a catchy melodic phrase, which is the reason many instrumental guitarists write lead lines that sound as if they could be sung.

  • Record a few bars of the rhythm structure of your song. If you don't have the rhythmic structure down completely, don't worry. Just strum the chord changes at the song's tempo. You're looking for a backing track to work out the lead phrases of the song. The longer you record this track, the more time you will have to play freely without having to start over. Some of the best material is written in improvisational sessions like this.

  • Write down on blank sheet music paper any musical ideas that seem to gel. Don't worry about everything coming together on paper right now. The key is to get down just the musical phrases you'll be able to work with. If you hear something that suggests another direction for your instrumental, such as a new bridge or chorus, work on that structure.

  • Combine the elements of your instrumental when your ideas have come together. If you have a multi-track recorder, so much the better. This will allow you to play your rhythm track first. Once it's solid and in place, you can lay down the lead guitar work and fills. You can write your song out in musical notation or simply record a full version of it if you don't know how to notate music. Just be sure to make a record of your song in some way, whether by machine or notation, so you have a copy of the work.

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