The Leads Are Weak

THE LEADS ARE WEAK: HOW TO WRITE A GUITAR SOLO [VIA PRO WRESTLING SCHOOL]

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The Leads Are Weak - Tony Sannicandro of Job For A Cowboy

Someone wrote in and asked me to cover how I like to construct a solo. This is a very good question. In fact, it’s so good that I don’t think it can be definitively answered. Obviously it’s going to differ from player to player, song to song, riff to riff, but I journeyed into my psyche and I think I figured out the best way to generally go about it.


When I write a solo, I take what I learned from pro wrestling school and apply it to the guitar. I’ve got my basic set of chops, punches and kicks; these are my bends and single notes. Then you’ve got your basic holds and throws, suplexes, and presses; my basic arpeggios and scales. These are the basis of any match, and there can be no good match without them. Since I’m a bit of a high-flyer I like to include a little extra sauce on my chops; this is where vibrato, bar bends, harmonics and fancy schmancy right hand stuff (oooooh yeah!) come into play. You gotta walk the rope with these things. Whack all of these things together and you’ll discover that it’s a very good thing. You need to show the people that you can defy death and still land on your opponents head in one piece.

Now comes the finale. You’ve got the motherfucker swimming on the ropes. You’ve gotta put the nail in the coffin. You need the three count.

Define your finishing move. This is what separates you from the other wrestlers. You can’t simply steal The People’s Elbow; there’s a giant Samoan that would probably have something not so nice to say if you did. A match is not complete until you get that three count. THIS is where you apply all your wrestling knowledge to finish that fucker off. You need to end the solo in one piece, and on top. You can’t just leave it hanging; you need that finishing move and that final three count.

This is professional wrestling, the most poetic and sacred of all sports. And as grown ups — I assume the majority of you are grown ups (even though some of your comments lead me to believe otherwise) — we know wrestling is “predetermined.” That you knew what was going to happen before stepping into the ring doesn’t discredit the techniques and training involved. The caveat is that you don’t want the audience to KNOW that what you did was thought out. See? This is where your acting will come into play. You need to sell it, man.

And so, in conclusion, let’s recap:
Notes
Scales
Arpeggios
Side sauce
Acting
Finishing move
Three count.
And keep the audience guessing.

For all you less-than-sharp crayons out there, what I’m saying is this: I like to approach the solo knowing the backing chords and with a general understanding of what’s happening within it (predetermined outcome). I sit down and figure out the goal or outcome, and I listen to the chords and go. I have my basic techniques and scalar knowledge that I’ve practiced (gym hours, throws, holds, punches, kicks). I get in there, slay the dragon, throw down my finishing move, and stick the three count (get the fuck outta the solo in one piece). Applause. It’s different every time but if you have these basic principles worked out you really can’t go wrong.

Of course, all this needs to be spun together using your acting chops and your side sauce. You need your own personal style that sets you apart. I try and do my thing, keep the audience guessing, and not think too much about it.

Got it? Good.

– Tony Sannicandro / Job For A Cowboy

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