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"Paranoid" Guitar Solo (Black Sabbath)

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Black Sabbath Paranoid album cover

One of my favourite solos to teach my guitar students here in Vancouver is Tony Iommi's solo in "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath. It's a great solo to teach because it keeps mostly within two easy E minor pentatonic scale shapes. There are few notes outside these scales so it's easy for intermediate guitar lessons as the student can understand how the solo was constructed.

However, the tempo is fast. Many students are unable to play the solo at tempo, which is about 163 beats per minute. But that doesn't matter. There's still so much to learn from the solo.

I've made a tempo-graduated jam track for my students to practice the solo. Each time the track comes around again, the tempo goes up. It starts at a moderate 135 BPM, then gradually gets up to the original 163 BPM. There is also a complete video lesson if you prefer to learn that way.

You can download the complete guitar tab using the link at the bottom of this article.

Don't try playing along to the jam track until you feel you have the solo down at least at a slow tempo because 135 is still not easy.

E minor pentatonic 7th position

Pentatonic Shapes

As I stated above, the solo is constructed almost entirely from just two minor pentatonic shapes. The solo starts in 7th position in E minor pentatonic. The solo starts with a bend on the root note, E, and dances around this shape before sliding down two frets to the shape below.

It heads back up again, in bar five.

E minor pentatonic 7th position

In bar 8, Iommi slides up into what I call our standard E minor pentatonic shape, in twelfth position. This is the shape that most of us first learn.

There are some very fast passages, so take it slow. Just learn the notes, then learn the rhythm. Make sure you can hear the rhythm in your mind -- don't guess. Once the sound of the lick is stuck in your mind, all you need to do is play along to the sound in your head.

You can download the entire tab in PDF format, or view the tab here below. Try practicing with the video on Youtube to get your tempo up.

Download PDF • 58KB

Paranoid guitar solo tab Black Sabbath

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