Learn How To Creatively Improvise Guitar Licks That Sound Great
Does it not sound very good when you improvise guitar licks compared to the licks played by your favorite players or even your friends?
Playing creatively when you improvise on guitar feels amazing and is actually a lot easier than you think. Even if you aren't very good now, you can quickly begin improvising great guitar licks when you use the right approach.
How do you know if you're using the right approach?
You don't have to guess whether you are using the right approach or not, simply let me show you what to do!
Start creatively improvising guitar licks that sound great today by using the easy-to-apply advice in this video:
Click on the video to begin watching it.
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Now you know how to creatively improvise on guitar, it's time to learn more ways to improve your guitar playing and creativity.
Use these tips to play guitar licks that sound great every time you pick up your instrument:
How To Easily Make Your Fast Guitar Licks Sound Better
1. Master Muting With Both Hands
To keep your guitar licks sounding perfectly clean, use the index finger of the fretting hand to mute the thinner strings above the one you are currently playing on. Use your picking hand thumb to mute strings below the one you are playing on.
2. Pay Close Attention To Your Rhythmic Timing
Playing fast guitar licks without great rhythmic timing is an easy way to ruin the cool sound of playing with speed.
Unfortunately, many guitar players play slightly out of time and don't even know it by playing notes on the beat some of the time but ahead of the beat at other times.
Here is how to fix this and make your guitar licks sound much more high-quality:
Choose any guitar lick you want to play better and play just a few notes of it to a metronome. Make it your goal to line up the first note you play perfectly with the first beat so that the click of the metronome disappears underneath it.
If you have recording software, this is even easier.
Use the software to record what you are playing, then listen back to it and look on your screen to see precisely how lined up you were with the beat.
3. Improve Your Tone
It's easy to quickly improve your guitar tone using your tone knobs.
While playing note that are above the 12th fret or so, use the neck pick up. This means flip the pickup selector up (towards the ceiling). This instantly makes your tone sound smoother.
Then, use the bridge pick up while playing notes in the lower fretboard range and while playing rhythm guitar licks.
4. Don't Practice Using Only Chromatic Guitar Licks
Practicing chromatic exercises for speed is common, but not very effective for improving your guitar playing.
These types of licks don't have much actual musical application.
You rarely have to play extended chromatic licks like this in actual music, so practicing them frequently makes little sense.
Instead, practice guitar licks that actually have good transferability to music and other aspects of your musical skills.
For example: Practicing a guitar lick that combines scales with arpeggios. This has potential to improve your playing in multiple areas, such as sweep picking, general picking, arpeggios, scales, skill integration or musical phrasing.
Additional Exercises To Help You Creatively Improvise Guitar Licks
Being creative while improvising guitar licks is one of the most fun things you can do on guitar. Good news is, anyone can get better at this fairly quickly.
Here are a few simple exercises to help you develop musical creativity so your guitar licks sound great:
Creative Guitar Lick Exercise #1:
Step 1 – Improvise a short guitar lick of 3-5 notes max.
Step 2 – Play through this lick several times to make it effortless.
Step 3 – Repeat this lick several times while changing the rhythm of the notes during each repetition. Do this for several minutes.
This exercise helps you focus on thinking more creatively with the rhythm of your guitar licks.
Creative Guitar Lick Exercise #2:
Step 1 - Choose a short guitar lick that you like to play.
Step 2 – Play through the lick until you can do so without any mistakes.
Step 3 – Keep playing this guitar lick, except change how you play the notes to make it sound unique. Do this by using things like vibrato, legato, tremolo picking or string bending. This helps you develop better phrasing over time so you are able to play creative guitar licks with ease.
Note: Make sure to primarily change how you play the notes, don't add any more notes yet.
Creative Guitar Lick Exercise #3:
Step 1 - Think of a simple rhythm by clapping it with your hands.
Step 2 – Improvise a guitar lick using the note rhythm you chose. Use any notes or techniques you like, but keep the rhythm the same.
This exercise focuses more on the notes you choose to help you create better guitar licks more easily.
Practice these guitar lick exercises to become more creative very quickly. Then think of more ways to challenge yourself by creating your own exercises that narrow your focus on a different musical element or aspect of guitar playing.
How To Play Guitar Licks All Over The Fretboard
Ever feel like your guitar licks kind of stay in one spot and you feel like you're just adding new notes outside of the range hoping for something to sound cool?
Try this instead:
Work on improving your fretboard visualization. You want to know what scale shape you are going to move to with your fingers before you even move into position to play it.
Practice using scale shapes that are in adjacent positions at first.
Learn how to play an A natural minor scale starting on the 5th fret of the low E string. Just learn the first octave to begin with. Then, learn how to play a G Mixolydian scale starting on the 3rd fret of that string. This scale uses the exact same notes as the A natural minor scale, it just starts on the 3rd fret rather than the 5th.
After this, spend a few minutes playing through each scale both separately and together in a variety of different ways. Play freely and use different techniques or rhythms to make it sound more musical.
Use this same approach to learn new positions and increase your command of the fretboard over time.
When you apply the ideas on this page, you will quickly find that they work well to improve your guitar licks and creativity.
Check out reviews from students who take guitar lessons with me and applied some of these same ideas from this page into their lead guitar playing to play much more creatively:
Now you know how to play better guitar solos... it's time to raise all your overall guitar skills to the next level. How? Find out by getting started with online guitar lessons.
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