10 Ace Frehley guitar solos you must learn
I started confidently using the pentatonic scale to create great rock solos after learning many of the great guitar solos played by Ace Frehley, the original lead guitarist in the rock band KISS. The solos were not overly technical. They have a great sense of melody and rhythm. In other words, they are DAMN catchy! The challenge that guitarists face when wanting to start soloing is how to make the scale come alive. Ace uses techniques such as string bends, vibrato, repetition and rhythm variation to create melodic and instantly singable guitar solos.
Ace Frehley is responsible for starting more guitarists careers than any other in the rock world. The influence of his band KISS on the rock and metal scene is enormous. Ace never has been the fastest or flashiest guitar player. What he does is pure textbook rock guitar playing and a great place for guitarist wanting to learn how to play guitar solo to learn from.
If you learn these 10 guitar solos you will understand all the tools necessary to make your guitar sing.
If you would like to learn how to play like Ace, get in contact with us through our enquiry box to the right hand side of this page, calling Rhys on the above number or find out more about guitar lessons at the Eastern Suburbs School of Music by looking over our website.
1. Strutter – from KISS
Opening with a great example of how to use rhythm patterns in soloing all with just one note. Many students play too many notes when starting to improvise. The solo is based in the pentatonic minor at the 7th fret making it in the key of B minor. A great trick is taking the same ideas an octave higher. This is possible on a guitar by going 12 frets higher.
Check out this lesson by ESSM guitar instructor Rhys Lett to learn how to play this great solo.
2. Deuce – from KISS
This makes use of not only the commonly used minor pentatonic scale but switches into major pentatonic and chromatic notes. We hear the same rhythmic ideas as played in Strutter. Learning many solos by the same guitarist like Ace Frehley will build a repertoire of solo licks. This is just like learning chords when starting to play rhythm guitar. Watch our lesson video to learn some of these classic licks.
3. Got to Choose – from Hotter Than Hell
This is a great example of using the chords to create the solo. The control of the strings bends is also a highlight. Bending strings makes the pitch of the note go higher. You are aiming to bend the string far enough so you pitch the next note in the scale. When bending a string make sure you use more than just one finger. Other fingers are needed to hold the note in place. This will allow you to also apply vibrato on the bend, another feature of Ace Frehley’s lead playing. He does this technique on the last bent note of the solo. Hear him bend and shake before making the last descending run down the scale.
4. Love Her All I Can – from Dressed to Chill
Flashy yet completely catchy. The aim is to get your solo licks stuck in the minds of those listening.
5. Ladies Room – from Rock and Roll Over
Here Ace uses 6ths to create the melody. 6ths refer to an interval, a measuring label used in music to describe the sound distance between two notes. This shows you don’t need to just think of scales to create a solo. Using chord notes is just as effective and even easier to start of with before launching into scale runs.
6. Shock Me – from Love Gun
Not only the first lead vocal that Ace Frehley did on a KISS song but also his greatest recorded guitar solo. This demonstrates everything in the Frehley trick bag. Rhythm tricks, string bends, minor and major pentatonics, chromatic notes and great interplay with the band. Students often forget to listen to what the band is doing to back you when trying soloing for the first time. They are concentrating so hard on what to play rather than listening and reacting to the band. This solo is a great example of how to achieve the balance between flash and band interplay.
7. Love Gun – from Love Gun
Check out the pentatonic pattern run used to make this solo. Commonly taught as a scale exercise here Ace uses it to build the melody to a screaming peak. Also learn the fills and harmony under the outro chorus. Break up this solo and scatter it through your own. Also play the solo in different keys, meaning start on a different fret. Watch the above video to learn how to play the solo.
8. Snow Blind – from Ace Frehley
An example of using the same licks and transposing them to a new key to follow the chords. Can you start to hear the common things Ace Frehley does from solo to solo? This is necessary to create in your own playing in learning how to use scales and make them musical. Solos should never sound like someone playing just a scale. A ripping solo from his 1978 solo album.
9. Save Your Love – from Dynasty
One of Ace’s most expressive solos with Santana like prebends and blues based licks. Ace also does a cool trick you can do on Les Paul guitars with the pickup selector. A Gibson Les Paul has separate volume controls for each pickup as noted in our past blog on Fender Stratocaster vs. Gibson Les Paul. Ace sets one to zero the other to full volume and flicks the switch between both pickups. Great way to show off during a guitar solo.
10. Dark Light – from The Elder
Ace lets rip in the middle of this track. Possibly the loosest solo he recorded. Learn this and you won’t help but be able to strike a rock god pose during the final notes.