Do you want to know the secret to playing killer guitar licks? Fact is, most people believe that playing great lead guitar licks has to do with which ‘notes’ are being used. The reality is anyone can play a lick using the exact same notes and come up with totally different results based upon HOW they play it. By focusing on ‘how’ to play the notes in your lick rather than ‘what’ notes you are using, you can drastically improve the quality of your lead guitar soloing.
In a few moments, you will discover just how easy it is to make your own guitar licks sound killer regardless of the notes you are using. Additionally, you are going to learn how to get better at coming up with awesome guitar licks any time you sit down to play guitar.
The first action you need to take (right now) is to watch the short video on this page to see an exact demonstration of the main ideas in this article. By watching the video, you will MASSIVELY increase your ability to absorb the ideas and use them to improve your own guitar playing. Additionally, the video will help you get the most value from the lead guitar phrasing exercise you will find below. Check out the video now, then come back to read the rest of this article.
Step 1: Think of a lead guitar lick that you can play accurately. The lick you select can be in any style, using any notes. Alternatively, improvise a new (short) guitar lick. Then play through this lick a few times.
Step 2: As you watch the guitar licks video above, you will see how I use slides in several different ways to emphasize the last note in a guitar phrase. Grab a piece of paper and write out a list of descriptions of how to perform all the different variations you observe in the video (use a single sentence or less to describe each one). Writing this down and thinking about it on your own is more valuable than me ‘giving’ you the list of variations to practice because it trains you to actively listen for and pinpoint subtle guitar phrasing ideas on your own. When you describe how each slide variation feels, simply use descriptive words that will help you remember the idea itself (the words themselves are not that important). If you need to, watch the video several times until you have completed your list.
Step 3: To change your lead guitar lick from the first step into a KILLER guitar lick, use the slide variations in your list from the previous step to accent the final note of the phrase. By simply changing the way you play the final note of the lick, you will notice that each new variation sounds MUCH more powerful than the original phrase. Next, after playing through all the different variations in your list, start coming up with ‘your own’ ideas using the same general concept (of sliding into/around the target note). There are countless ways that you can accent a note using this phrasing concept. Be creative and try to come up with at least 5-10 variations. Next, add all of your new ideas to the list you began in step two (with descriptions) and play through them all several times.
Step 4: Now that you have many more variations in your list, create even more ideas by combining slides together with bends/vibrato. Watch the video above to see exactly how to combine a slide with heavy vibrato/bending to accent the final note in your phrase. As you did in step two, write down the different variations you observe by using a short descriptive sentence to help you remember the way each one feels. Once you have done this, repeat the same process from step three and come up with your own unique ideas using slides, bends and vibrato to emphasize the final note of your phrase. By doing this, you will give yourself MANY new ideas that will transform your guitar licks to make them sound better than ever! Next, play one of the new variations you made and compare it to the guitar lick from the first step in this exercise. You will see a BIG improvement in the overall quality and intensity of the two licks.
Step 5: Once you have performed the previous steps, think of three new lead guitar licks and repeat this exercise.
After you complete this exercise several times, it will become much easier for you to play great guitar licks with little effort.
Since the final note of a guitar lick is often the one that most people notice, you can quickly improve any of your phrases by focusing your efforts on emphasizing this note. However, you can also use the ideas of this article to improve any other note in your guitar licks. In the second part of this article series, I will discuss how to do this in more detail.
Get more ideas to improve your lead guitar playing by watching these free guitar lesson videos.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, songwriter and a pro guitarist. He uses the best online guitar lessons to train guitar players to reach their musical goals. Go to tomhess.net to get more guitar playing resources , guitar playing eBooks, and to read more guitar playing articles.