Learn the Guitar Solo in Horse With No Name

Learn the Guitar Solo in Horse With No Name

This blog post is a tutorial on how to play the guitar solo in Horse With No Name by America on guitar.

This guitar solo gets a 5/10 difficulty rating

While the rhythm guitar parts of Horse With No Name are relatively tame, the guitar solo in this song is anything but.

This solo is given a 5/10 difficulty rating because it uses alternate picking, slides, and requires some fancy fretwork. Therefore, I recommend that you attempt it only if you've learned about 15-20 guitar solos already.

This solo was originally played on acoustic guitar (though it could be easier to learn and sound pretty cool on electric guitar), and this tutorial is a transcription that will teach you a note-for-note version of the solo.

What are the benefits of learning this guitar solo? 

Practicing this solo will help you become more familiar with alternate picking, slides, and it's an excellent etude for moving across one string very quickly. Alternate picking, for example, is used extensively in faster solos that you'd hear in heavy metal (believe it or not). You'll find at least one or two slides in the majority of guitar solos, and since this solo requires you to move quickly that will only be a boon for you as move throughout the cannon of guitar solos.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of learning and mastering this solo is that these techniques are prevalent in lead guitar in general, and any solo can be easily approached and mastered quicker because you'd potentially be more familiar with the techniques. 

What are the required skills?

  1. You have experience with fast picking. 
  2. You are familiar with alternate picking.
  3. You understand what triplets are.
  4. You are familiar with slides.

Recommended: Download the song first

There are a few versions of this song you can find online, but this tutorial is based off of the recorded version. I strongly recommend downloading a MP3 copy of this song for yourself.

iTunes | Amazon | CD | Vinyl

Getting familiar with the solo

I am positive that the more we listen to a guitar solo, the more we can hum it, sing it, and know what's happening in it before we jump into learning it, the easier it will be to learn to play it. My first suggestion to you is simple: Memorize that guitar solo first. Here are some ways I would do it:

  1. Create a loop from the guitar solo and listen to it at different speeds. 
  2. Sing or hum along to the parts
  3. Listen to it absentmindedly, in the car or while doing dishes. 

The idea is to prime the pump before you start cracking at the solo. I am often surprised by how much this helps beginners in their guitar lessons just as much as it helps advanced guitarists learn a new guitar solo.

Now, the guitar solo...

Guitar solo overview

Horse With No Name's  guitar solo can be divided into three parts. The names I chose are just descriptive names so you can remember the parts of the solo:

  1. Slides
  2. Tremelo
  3. Fancy  

I'm going to quickly show you how to play these parts and leave the details up to you. If this goes too fast for you and you want more detail on how to play these parts, my suggestion would be to check out the module that could help you master this solo. Okay, let's jump in! 

Slides

The slides part of the solo takes up the first third of the solo. Here's how you play that:

Tremelo

Tremelo picking is what you'll need for the second part of the solo. It's all done on the 12th fret of the high E string, and done in triplets:

Fancy

The fancy part of this guitar solo has some, um, fancy fretwork. You'll need to be agile to get this beast down:

Putting it all together

The guitar solo will take a little while to put together, but if you section it off like I did above it'll take less time. My suggestion is to move slowly and awkwardly at first, then speed it up only after you feel super confident with it. This is what it'll look like once it's all together:

Frequently Asked Questions

"The fancy part is hard! My fingers can't keep up with my picking. How do I sync them up?"

You won't like my suggestion, but slow down. How on earth are you going to play this part if you can't slow down and totally sync up your picking and fretting hand?

If this doesn't solve the problem and you need more guidance, I have created a paid module for this solo that will absolutely help you sync your fingering and picking. 

"How do I get faster at tremelo picking?"

Tremelo picking is tough to get at first. First off, commit to practicing it five minutes a day. Put it on your calendar, and set a timer for five minutes. Second, keep your wrist super straight. Third, go up and down on one string as fast and as slow as you can. When your five minutes is up, walk away. Come back tomorrow.

"How do I know when I've mastered this solo?"

When you can play along with the solo on the recorded version of this song from start to finish and do it without worrying about whether you are playing it correctly, you've got it and are ready for a new solo.

Still having trouble? Want to nail this solo and truly master it?

The America Horse With No Name Guitar Solo module is a paid course to help you nail the solo. It comes with a number of downloads, and it will help you learn this guitar solo inside and out. 

What This Module Will Teach You

  1. Three preliminary exercises that, once mastered, will directly affect your ability to play this solo for the better.
  2. The optimal fingering and picking. 
  3. Multiple angle shots of the picking and the fingering.
  4. Step-by-step instructions of each of the three parts in greater detail. 
  5. How to practice this solo so as to completely master it.