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Ready to sharpen your skills and start playing lead guitar better?
Need to be better prepared for a guitar solo with your band?
After you’ve learned the basics of playing the guitar, it eventually becomes time to move on to developing your lead guitar skills and playing solos. While it can be tricky trying to learn this skill, there are a few tips that can help you progress faster.
Below are 5 essential tips you need to know if you want to play lead guitar better.
1. Know the Fretboard – Our Top Tip For Playing Lead Guitar Better
One of the most important things you can do to start improving your lead guitar skills is to take the time to learn the fretboard. Make sure you know what every note on the fretboard is and this will help you immensely when it comes time for the big guitar solo.
While some of the best guitar players in the world ooze style and make things look easy, it likely didn’t come naturally to them. They each spent time learning the fretboard and figuring out where each note is on the guitar and how one relates to another.
You should also learn chord voicings. Learn how to play a G chord in every section of your guitar neck. While you won’t only be playing chords when playing lead guitar, knowing the chord shapes for different chords all along the fretboard will help you when memorizing where each note is. You’ll even be able to play the individual notes of these chords during a solo to enhance your phrasing and create new licks.
2. Memorize Your Scales
Along with learning where the basic notes and chords lie along the fretboard, scales are essential. While you may not find playing scales very exciting, if you’re interested in becoming an expert lead guitarist, they are more than necessary.
While knowing where each note lies on the fretboard is helpful, you need to know how the notes connect and work together. Memorizing scales all along the fretboard will help you with this.
To start with you should learn the pentatonic scale. You may also try learning some blues scales. Play the scales slowly while saying the notes out loud to yourself.
Also, try playing them faster. Then experiment with them to create different sequences of notes. Then you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great lead guitar player.
In addition to learning the notes, playing scales comes with the added benefit of making your fingers stronger and giving them a great exercise.
By the way, you may want to check out this article if you want to find out more about why learning and practicing your guitar scales will be so important as a guitarist.
3. Steal From the Greats
Another great way to start playing lead guitar better is to study your favorite lead guitarists. It’s totally okay to listen to their licks and riffs and steal to your heart’s desire.
It’s easy enough to find a tab on Ultimate Guitar, a free guitar app, or on another tab site, and see exactly what your favorite guitarist played on any particular song. Try playing some of these and memorize them, then be sure to add them to one of your own guitar solos when playing with your band.
Additionally, if you want to get even more out of this you may also try transposing one of your favorite guitar solos yourself. While guitar tabs can be quicker, you can learn a lot about the guitar by listening to your favorite solo intently and trying to duplicate your favorite licks by ear.
Which, of course, brings us to the next point…
4. Train Your Ear
If you want to be great at playing lead guitar, it is crucial that you train your ear. There are more ways to do this than you may think.
One way to do this is doing training to identify various intervals and scales. As mentioned above, it is also a great idea to listen to your favorite guitar players and try to translate some of their licks to your own guitar using only your ear.
Additionally, to train your ear it can be great to practice translating what you hear in your mind into your fretboard. Imagine a lick or a melody you would like to play, and then see how quickly and easily you can perform the same tune on your guitar. Doing this often and intentionally will help you to train your ear and become a better lead guitar player in time.
By using these tips for playing lead guitar and improving your practice sessions, you may find that your lead guitar playing is improving immensely. While it can be hard to do the groundwork, it will be well worth it in the end if you really want to start playing lead guitar better.
Looking for more help with your lead guitar playing? Check out our list of the best guitar volume pedals, perfect for giving you a boost when it comes time for your big solo.
Hi, I’m Harrison! I created this website to help musicians navigate the ins and outs of their craft and to help them choose new instruments and gear to add to their collection. I have 15 years of experience as a guitarist and singer and have also played many other instruments throughout the years including the bass guitar, piano, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica.