How To Play Killer Lead Guitar Licks That Add Fire & Intensity To Your Guitar Playing - Part 1
by Tom Hess
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Want to know how to quickly and easily transform ‘average’ lead guitar licks into GREAT lead guitar licks? Many guitarists try to do this by changing or adding notes to the original phrase, believing that it is the notes themselves that determine how cool the guitar lick sounds. This is often untrue.
In a few minutes, you are going to see and hear an illustration of how easy it is to change ‘average’ lead guitar licks into killer lead guitar licks, regardless of what notes are being played. The best part is that you will learn how to improve your lead guitar licks from ‘mediocre’ to ‘totally amazing’ anytime you pick up your guitar.
Before reading any further, watch this lead guitar licks video that demonstrates the main concepts I will be referring to later in this article. Watching the video with your full attention will maximize your ability to use the concepts and make your own great guitar licks. In addition, the lead guitar licks demonstrated in the video will help you get the most out of the guitar soloing exercise I will give you (in the rest of the article) that will add overwhelming intensity to any guitar licks you play. Watch the video now before continuing to read.
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Step 1: Think of short lead guitar licks that you are already familiar with and can play well (or improvise one if you like). Think of guitar licks in any style, scale or tempo. Once you have done this, play through the lick several times.
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Step 2: In the video above you hear me demonstrate lots of variations of how to approach the final note of a phrase using ornamental slides. Make a list of all these slide variations you hear/see me do in the video, by writing out a descriptive sentence for each idea. It is important for YOU to do this (instead of me ‘giving’ you the list) because you will learn so much more by going through the process of training your ears to hear and identify the different nuances that are demonstrated. The specific words you use to describe each variation are not important, simply write out some description that makes it easy for you to remember ‘what’ the idea is. Write down all the different variations you have identified on paper or in a computer file (you will use it in the next step). You may need to watch the video more than once to do this.
Step 3: To use your phrase from Step 1 to create cooler lead guitar licks, begin to heavily emphasize the final note of your lick using the slide variations you wrote out in Step 2. You will notice how the phrase immediately starts to sound more intense simply by changing the way you approach the final note. After you play through all the ideas you saw me demonstrate in the video (and you wrote out in Step 2), begin to create your OWN variations on the same phrasing concept. There are dozens of ideas for how to implement this simple phrasing element on a single note and you need to challenge yourself to be creative and think of more ideas to experiment with. Make new guitar licks using the list you started writing out in Step 2 (by writing a short descriptive sentence for each) and practice playing through them.
Step 4: Now, take your guitar licks from Step 3 and create MORE phrasing ideas from each of them by varying the type of vibrato/bend used on the final note after you approach it with a slide. Start by referring to the video above to see/hear several ideas to get you started and write a short descriptive sentence for each variation to make sure you don’t forget it. Then expand on this further by coming up with your own ideas (in the same way as you did in Step 3). This will give you LOTS of variations for making your phrasing sound better than it ever has before! Play through this new set of guitar licks several times and compare it to the original you began with in Step 1. You will notice a HUGE difference in the level of intensity between the two.
Step 5: After doing the above steps, choose 3-5 additional lead guitar licks and repeat the previous steps.
After practicing the exercise in this article several times, you will find it much easier to create powerful and intense lead guitar licks on command.
Although focusing on the ‘final’ note of a phrase is the fastest way to make any phrase sound better (because that is the note that stands out the most to the listener’s ear), read part 2 to get more great lead guitar licks phrasing exercises. There you will discover the other ways to apply these ideas into your phrasing that will make all of your lead guitar licks sound better..
Get more help with making your lead guitar licks sound awesome by watching these free guitar lessons videos.
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