How To Improve Your Lead Guitar Playing
Find out how great guitar players come up with their awesome guitar solos. Learn the secrets to improving your lead guitar playing.
Do you have a hard time coming up with guitar solos that sound like real music instead of a "combination of guitar licks"? Have you spent a lot of time looking for countless guitar exercises, new scales and guitar licks to play on the internet, only to realize later that these things are NOT making you a better lead guitar player?
The guitarists who attempt to make their guitar solos more creative by using the approach above, typically end up frustrated with their slow rate of progress and start to lose hope in their potential to become great guitarists. Very often they also start to believe in the common misconception that their ability to create great guitar solos is restricted by their amount of natural talent.
Fortunately, it IS possible for anyone to greatly improve their lead guitar soloing skills with the right approach. If you haven't reached this goal yet, I want to show you the most common reasons why guitar players struggle with creating truly GREAT guitar solos and give you the steps you can take now to massively improve your lead guitar playing.
The truth is that most guitar players focus on entirely the wrong things when trying to improve their lead guitar soloing and improvising skills. Many guitarists assume that the solution to their guitar soloing challenges is in learning more "new" skills (innovative soloing concepts, new guitar licks/scales/arpeggios etc…). In reality, simply acquiring new musical skills will not (in and of itself) make your lead guitar playing better, just like having a lot of ingredients in the kitchen will NOT make you a "better" cook. While having a lot of musical skills will give you more options to choose from, these skills will NOT "increase your ability" to create great guitar solos until and unless you learn how to "integrate" them to make the best musical choices possible in any musical situation. For the vast majority of musicians, it is this lack of ability to fluently APPLY and INTEGRATE their existing skills that prevents them from mastering the art of lead guitar soloing.
If you are not clear on what the concepts of musical application and integration mean and how they play a critical role in helping you improve your lead guitar soloing skills, watch this free video lesson about practicing guitar before reading the rest of this article.
Now that you understand more about why the traditional ways of improving your guitar solos are ineffective, here are some specific steps you need to take to begin to integrate your existing lead guitar playing skills on a deeper level and greatly improve your guitar solos in the process.
Here is a visual demonstration of the most common process that most guitar players use to create guitar solos:
In contrast, great lead guitar players rely on their ears and their mind to imagine what they want to hear before playing a single note, and use their hands (guitar technique) as well as their music theory knowledge, mastery of the fretboard, and other musical skills to express what the mind wants to hear. Although they also end up "playing scales over chords", the overall level of creativity and expression achieved is much greater because all of their musical tools/skills are integrated together as one "creative whole".
Here is a breakdown of the process used to create great guitar solos:
Although the steps above happen very fast (and almost always occur on a subconscious level), this kind of thought process is key to creating truly great guitar solos.
The most important thing I want you to notice is that most of what actually "creates" a great guitar solo needs to be done with your mind and your ears. This is totally different from the thinking process of inexperienced guitarists, whose guitar solos are merely an attempt to “fill up space/silence with notes”.
1. It is very hard to become aware of specific flaws in your lead guitar soloing when you don't know what things you should be listening for.
2. It is also challenging to determine whether or not your guitar solos are actually improving and what areas of your lead guitar playing still need work.
You will make the fastest progress when you have your guitar solos analyzed by a guitar teacher who can not only point out specific flaws in your guitar playing but also can create an effective lesson strategy to help you overcome the specific challenges that are holding you back from creating truly great guitar solos.
Now that you understand more about what it takes to improve your lead guitar playing, you should become excited as you realize that all of your musical goals are entirely within your control to achieve. When you begin to implement the steps I have outlined above, your lead guitar soloing skills begin to improve rapidly.If you haven't already done so, watch this free lesson about guitar practicing and download this free lesson about learning guitar phrasing to get more specific advice on how to improve your guitar soloing.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom Hess is a highly successful online guitar teacher, touring musician and a guitar player for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He teaches guitar players around the world in his online guitar lessons. Visit tomhess.net to get free guitar playing resources and to read more guitar playing articles.