What a Stanford Experimental Psychologist Can Teach You About Playing Guitar Solos Part 3

How To Learn Any Solo Part 3

This is an article in a series. you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

A few months ago, I wrote about how to learn any solo, and what a Stanford experimental psychologist could teach you about playing guitar. Today I’ll be showing you the fruits of my labour – four months of ‘work’ (is it really work if you enjoy it?). There was one thing that helped me wrap up the solo when my motivation dwindled at the 75% mark – if you’re anything like me, this is always where you start asking yourself ‘Why bother?’ or ‘What’s the point?’

Here is what I ended up doing to counteract that feeling and push for the last 25% (inconveniently the most difficult!)


Stickk.com is awesome. I’ve been signed up to this service for a while and I use it when I have to do something I know is important, but don’t do/don’t want to do.

The site is a not for profit website formed by several Yale academics. The idea behind it is that:

1. People don’t always do what they claim they want to do, and
2. Incentives get people to do things

So when you want to do something (lose weight, eat better, make more money etc) you can make a commitment contract on the site. A commitment contract consists of three things – the bet size, the anti charity, and the goal.

You sign up with your credit card, and if you fail to win the bet or complete the contract, whatever money you’ve bet goes to an anti charity. An anti charity is an organisation you would loath giving money too – If you were pro-life, you would set the bet so that if you failed, the money went to a pro choice organisation.

For example, I set my stick goal to send €100 to the Manchester United Fan Club if I failed. Whenever I thought that I was too busy to practice the solo that day, I imagined handing over money to those Mancs and it spurred me on to finish what I set out to do!


Having money on the line, as well as a deadline, forced me to find the time to finish off this solo. My motivation had really staggered at 75% and the bet thankfully hauled me over the line. In fact, I would have kept going for another month or two, inefficiently messing around except for this bet. On deadline day, I thought I was nowhere near ready to record. I had no choice but to give it a shot, and although the solo isn’t 100% perfect, I realised that I would be fairly satisfied with 95% on any test score, so I let the few mistakes I made slide.

So there you have it – four months, three articles, one bet, one challenging solo and many small steps to learn it.

In truth, I feel like learning the solo only scratched the surface – I don’t really know exactly what was going on in the solo theory wise, and the next step would be to analyse it and steal ideas from the great Marty Friedman. That wasn’t part of the bet though – so for now I’ll just be satisfied with a well learned solo.


Check out stickk.com here! It’s a great way to create motivation.


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