Playing Lead Guitar - The First Steps
This article will help you start off in playing lead guitar. We discuss some of the ways you can move from playing chords as a rhythm guitarist to playing lead guitar solos.
Playing lead guitar seems like the next logical step to getting some skills in rhythm playing. You might need to focus more on the quality of your playing when you switch to single note solos and lead guitar licks. To start playing lead guitar you will need to be familiar with the notes on the guitar fretboard. This might seem like a big job but it only takes a few minutes a day of finding the notes and playing them in all positions.
You will need to add sessions of alternate picking using scales to your daily guitar practice. Your picking technique is the basis of your lead guitar playing but there are other techniques like string bending and skipping as well as hammer-ons, pull-offs and string tapping.
If you are a rock or blues guitarist you will need to know the minor pentatonic and the blues scale. The blues scale is only the minor pentatonic scale with an added flattened fifth. You can also add a flattened third or seventh.
If you can make or download a twelve bar blues backing track to play in front of, just play the notes of the scale in any order, experimenting with your blue notes. You will gradually get the feel of playing solos as you start to break free from the scale structure and use licks to make your guitar speak.
Another way of practicing playing lead guitar is to focus on the notes you find in the chords. Start by making sure you have the notes firmly in your head, and play them in any order with your backing track playing.
You could devote some time each day to discovering playing lead guitar using arpeggios. This simply involves fingering chord shapes and playing them as single notes. You simply hold the chord shape and play the strings up from the sixth and down from the first, then in random order.
If you have not already learnt to read guitar tabs, you should start now. It only takes half an hour to get the basic idea, and learning tab will allow you to tap into all the lead guitar solos that other guitarists have written in tab and shared on the internet. You can find tabs on tablature archive sites, and you could also check out forums to see if the members post tabs of their work. And don't forget that guitar magazines are still alive and well, so take a look at any regular tab features they might be running.
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