If you know the chord progression to a song, then you can use the notes from those chords to make simple guitar solos or as the basis for more complex guitar solo ideas.

For this lesson we are starting with a basic chord progression.

| D | C | G | D |

Incidentally this is a variant on the verse chord progression for the Guns & Roses song “Sweet Child Of Mine”.

The first thing we will do is turn the open string “Cowboy” chords into barre chords.

This allows us to eliminate the need for open strings and simplifies the chord concept for creating a melodic guitar solo idea using chord tones.

The first chord we are going to start with is D major. This can be made into a barre chord by taking the cowboy chord C, changing our fingering of the C chord so that our 1st finger can act as a barre across the strings and move this whole thing to the 2nd fret. (See example 1)

Example 1

How to make the D major Barre Chord


Now we will do the same for the C chord in this progression. To make a C barre chord we will start with the A major cowboy chord, rearrange the fingering so that our 1st finger can act as a barre across all of the strings. Now move this to the 3rd fret. (See example 2)

Example 2

How to make the C Barre Chord


The last chord will turn into a barre chord will be the G major chord in our chord progression. To make this a barre chord we will use the E major cowboy chord. Rearrange your fingering to let the 1st finger act as the barre across all of the strings. Now move the whole thing to the 3rd fret. (See Example 3)

Example 3

How to make the G Barre Chord


Now that we have turned our cowboy chords into barre chords, we can start turning these chords into groups of notes that are a little more suited for us to make simple melodies with.

For each chord we are going to make 2 groups of notes. The 1st group will consist of the notes on the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings.

The 2nd group of notes will be using the 3rd, 2nd and 1st string notes. (See example 4)

Example 4

We will do this for all 3 chords.


Why bother turning these into groups of notes when we already know the notes in the chord.

The 3 note groups that we have created will repeat all over the guitar neck and over time you will discover the same “shapes” exist in all basic chords – just on different frets.

It is much easier to see this when working with small note groups than it is trying to visualize it within an entire chord.

The long term goal here is to slowly get these “shapes” (the 3 note groups) fixed in your brain.

Over time you will spot them much faster and can switch to them more readily when improvising.

The guitar tab below has some examples of how to play these notes but be sure to make up your own as well.

Also be sure to create a loop for you to practice with.

I have uploaded this tab to Ultimate Guitar as well so you can take advantage of the tab player if you don’t use guitar pro.

Lesson Files: