Finding inspiring sounds to work with on DAWs always has been a struggle for me, especially because I was used to the immediacy of real amps.
It used to be true for all instruments before sample libraries got bigger and computers fast enough. Fortunately for drums the problem has been solved with EZ drummer / Superior Drummer.
For guitar I have been using Guitar Rig for the last years, which always had something lacking in terms of punch and realism, especially for lead sounds and clean sounds. It also had a sort of innate latency, which can be really annoying when playing, especially faster lines.
Then I found Mercuriall Spark, which is an excellent Marshall amp sim. It has low latency and the sounds are pretty realistic; at least it’s good enough for me to play with. It only had one problem, it’s cab IRs were very bad, so I had to solve that with the Two Notes Torpedo software.
Finally I had a decent tone to work with, so that inspired me to dust off some older solos that I wanted to improve on, like “Empty Rooms” and “Final Countdown”.
Yes, tone is mostly in the fingers of course, but when your playing itself is not the biggest bottleneck, gear comes into play as well, and the sound (at least to me) has to be playable.
About the solo, when the song first came out in 1986 (I was around 10 at the time) I was blown away by the song, but it was also the first time I was really impressed with a guitar solo (even more than the EVH “Thriller” one, probably because this one had harmonies as well). When I picked up the guitar 6 years later, I wanted to learn it, but of course I had no idea what sweep picking was, so I was very discouraged to find out I couldn’t play it no matter what I did. I got the “aha-moment” years later, when I saw a YT lesson about it.
Once you figure out the sweep part, it’s not the hardest solo in the world, but it still has a few tricky parts (the bluesy part primarily and the transitions between the parts). The difficult part (at least for me) is to make the transitions, the vibrato and the aggression seamless and convincing. It’s still a work in progress, but you have to start somewhere.
All feedback is welcome