How To Play Lead Guitar Licks Expressively To Make Them Stand Out

by Tom Hess

Did you ever notice how some guitar players can use the same techniques, licks or exercises as you but make them sound really musically expressive?

For example:

You spend time on auto-pilot shredding through a minor pentatonic scale, without playing melodically. This results in playing that sounds a bit out of control without a strong sense of direction.

Then you watch as your favorite guitar player shreds through the same pentatonic patterns, but also puts together phrases that captivate you and feel like you are listening to a powerful piece of music.

How did this happen?

The answer is to work on guitar phrasing consistently.

The most expressive guitar licks and solos are typically built on a foundation of excellent guitar phrasing. Your favorite guitarist has mastered this and now it is time for you to get started doing the same.

Guitar phrasing refers to how you play notes versus which notes you choose to create your licks and solos. Guitar licks with poor phrasing do not sound very musical, and instead sound more like exercises.

Keep in mind that you don't need to stop playing fast in order to play with melody.

So, how is this done?


Use speed more as a tool for building tension but playing fast bursts of notes in between slower, more melodic sections. This builds a sense of anticipation in your listeners.

How To Play Amazing Guitar Solos

Now you know a simple way to begin playing creatively and expressively during your lead guitar licks. There are more easy and fun ways to play better lead guitar licks!

Learn how to master vibrato to play intensely expressive guitar licks by reading this guitar vibrato technique article.

Tom HessAbout Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.

Learn even more powerful ways to become a better lead guitarist by taking online metal guitar lessons.

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