Have you ever wondered how to play guitar solos with the ‘slipperiness’ and ease that a lot of the pro guitarists do? There are a couple of tricks that don’t get talked about that much and are things that you can do immediately to enhance your speed and playing ability on any guitar neck.
First of all, let’s look at the natural things on a guitar that can make it a faster neck to play on, so if you’re in the market for a new one, you can make the best choice for what you need at the time.
The things to consider on a guitar neck when you’re looking for ease of use and speed for solos and fast riffs, in general, are neck width, coating, a wood choice on both fretboard and the neck back. (These are just the main neck considerations apart from other things to look for, but that is for another time).
There are a few different choices when it comes to the width of the neck, from fatter necks that give you more control over the notes but for some can hinder their speed and the thin wide necks that are more aimed at speed and free movement.
Regardless of which one feels comfortable to you, they are both personal choices as with the rest of these points and should both be played to get a feel for what’s out there and how it plays. I find a thin neck much easier to play, but that’s just the choice I have made.
This is quite often overlooked and can be a critical factor in what you can do at high speed. Coating refers to the finish on the wood, so whether it’s a high gloss or more of a matt finish, it can affect the way your hand slides across the neck. Some people stick to a gloss finish and find it hard to slide effectively, while others love the feel of it…once again, personal preference.
You may not feel or hear the difference in the wood choice in the neck, and that’s ok, but when learning how to play guitar solos, the choice of woods on the fretboard you’ll want to pay attention to. There are a few different choices available here from Rosewood, Ebony, and Maple, etc.
I have played most and found Rosewood was the one for me in terms of having the control over the notes I chose as well as being able to slide across the neck effortlessly, but I know guys that swear by Ebony fretboards. Try a few and look for the one that suits you.
This is where it gets fun, and this is also the stage you have the most control over. The Action on a guitar simply refers to the height of the strings of the neck and the playability caused as a result. If a guitar has a fast action, it means the strings are low to the neck, and overall it’s a smooth, easy play.
Regardless of the previous 3 points, whatever guitar you own, you should be able to do something with to improve the Action, whether that’s filing down the bridge or nut, to lowering your tremolo system.
There is another trick you can do to make your guitar slippery to play, and that is oiling the fretboard. It sounds a little weird, and to be honest, when I first heard about this, I was skeptical, but it works! I’m not talking throwing engine oil over it, but what’s known in Australia as WD-40.
— Guitar Techniques (@GTechniques) February 28, 2020
Any form of spray lubricant from the hardware store will do nicely (you can also buy a specialized guitar spray from the guitar shop, but it costs a bit more and does the same thing). I’ve even heard of people using lemon oil, but I haven’t personally tried that, so there’s not much I can say on it.
Just be warned, your fingers will get a bit oily and feel weird at first, but as it soaks into the neck, you won’t notice it. I also get a dusting cloth or any smooth cloth and wipe the excess spray into the fretboard, just to get an even coverage and less oil on my fingers.
If you oil the neck and make the string action as low as you can without causing any fret buzz, you’ll notice an almost instant improvement in your playing ability! Read our awesome review of the DR 100 Guitar in this article.