Play Cool Guitar Licks & Guitar Solos With Lead Guitar Lick Sequencing
by Tom Hess
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If you want an easy way to create entire guitar solos with nothing more than 1-2 guitar licks…
… this article and video will show you how, step by step.
Here is all you need to get started:
1. Know at least 1 scale.
(I show you exactly what this means below.
Plus: I’ll show you some scales if you don’t know any right now.)
2. Know a couple of short guitar licks.
(Again: see examples below.)
Then, comes the secret:
All you do is sequence each of your guitar licks through your scale all over the guitar.
You end up with huge chunks of lead guitar ideas you can develop into entire guitar solos.
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Watch the video below:
Here is how to get the most from this idea of sequencing guitar licks and make your lead guitar solos sound better:
Lead Guitar Soloing Tip #1: “Go Deep” With Every Guitar Scale You Learn. Here Is How:
Whenever they learn any guitar scale…
… they learn one shape of it and they feel like they are “done”. And they move on to learn the next guitar scale.
Soon, they feel bored again. And on to the next guitar scale they go, and so on.
The problem with this?
These lead guitar players fool themselves into thinking they know a ton of scales.
But when they try to play guitar licks and guitar solos with even one guitar scale?
They feel stuck!
Here is the solution:
Take your time and learn each scale all over the guitar.
For example: say you are learning this guitar scale: C D E F G A B (the C major scale).
This guitar scale has 7 notes.
And that means:
There are 7 scale positions you better know (each one starts from one of the 7 notes of the original guitar scale).
And if you want to play great guitar licks and guitar solos using the major scale – you better memorize all 7 shapes of that guitar scale.
The good news is: there are only 7 scale shapes to learn. And then you can play the major scale in all 12 keys (simply by moving those guitar scale positions up or down on the fretboard.)
And you’ll be able to use lick sequencing with any of the guitar licks you learn from that scale. (Just like I showed you in the lead guitar video you just watched.)
Question: “Tom Hess, what’s the best way to practice memorizing guitar scale positions on guitar?”
Answer: There is no “best” way to learn a guitar scale – but there are many good ways.
Here are a few of them:
- find the exact fingerings for the scale patterns, so your fingers don’t have to guess what notes to play.
- practice memorizing scale shapes consistently. Meaning: it’s better to practice memorizing guitar scale shapes for 10 minutes per day every day than to practice guitar scale patterns for an hour once per week.
And here is a bonus guitar scale memorization tip:
- use your time away from the guitar to memorize guitar scale shapes faster.
Here is how: imagine your right forearm is a fretboard. Put your left hand on the right forearm and imagine you are playing guitar scale patterns. This forces you to think about the notes of the guitar scale and burns these guitar scale shapes into your “lead guitar brain”.
This approach works great for memorizing any guitar scale – not just the major scale.
For example, check out this lead guitar lesson about guitar scale patterns:
Question: “Tom Hess: should I put the rest of my lead guitar playing on hold until I fully memorize one guitar scale?”
Answer: No, definitely not. To play lead guitar well, you need a whole arsenal of lead guitar skills. And it’s best to practice them in a geometric way. Meaning: make some time for all lead guitar skills throughout each week of your guitar practice.
The idea of sequencing lead guitar licks is one way to practice learning a new guitar scale. Both lead guitar practice approaches work together to help you play better guitar solos. (Learning a guitar scale more deeply helps you create guitar solos using sequencing… and practicing sequencing helps you master a new guitar scale you are trying to learn.)
This is the fastest way to reach your lead guitar playing goals.
If you want some more help with memorizing your scales on guitar, check out my free Fretboard Freedom Blueprint eGuide.
Lead Guitar Soloing Tip #2: Give Yourself More Time To Think When You Create Your Guitar Licks And Guitar Solos. Here Is How:
I once had a lead guitar student complain about having a “slow brain”.
When he tried to play lead guitar licks and guitar solos, he felt like he couldn’t come up with guitar lick ideas fast enough.
My solution for him?
I taught him several lead guitar playing techniques for buying himself more time to think while playing lead guitar licks and guitar solos.
And guess what:
The “sequence” approach to expanding guitar licks I taught you in this lead guitar article is one of those ways.
Here are a few more ways to buy yourself more time to think, so you can play better guitar licks and guitar solos:
1. Start thinking about the next set of guitar licks sooner.
Sounds simple, right? Here is what you do:
Begin thinking of your next 1-2 guitar licks while you are playing the current one. Do this in all your guitar solos.
Most lead guitar players don’t do this. They wait until they finish each of their guitar licks to begin creating the next lead guitar idea.
The result? They always struggle to keep up in their guitar solos and it seems like their brain can’t think quickly enough.
Watch this video to see how “thinking ahead” helps you create more and better guitar licks and guitar solos:
2. Repeat each guitar lick several times and refine it.
Average guitarists have only 2 options to make their guitar solos better:
Option 1: Add new notes to the guitar solo.
Option 2: Play different notes (or different licks).
Great guitarists also have a 3rd option:
Option 3: Break down guitar solos and refine the phrasing of each lick in them - one note at a time. (This means improving how you play the notes.)
When you improve your lead guitar phrasing, your guitar licks and guitar solos always sound better. Every time.
So, do this:
Play any guitar lick (using any guitar scale) and ask yourself:
“How does this guitar lick sound to me on a scale of 1-10?”
If the lick sounds and feels like less than a “10”, play it again. Only this time, refine some element of the lick using phrasing ornaments.
Here is how to do it:
After refining some part of the lick, play it again and see where it falls on the 1-10 scale.
Do this exercise on all your guitar licks, until you are playing each one at a level of 9 or 10.
This is a great lead guitar exercise to do with any guitar scale you practice. And it works for every lead guitar style.
It’s particularly important for classic rock and blues lead guitar solos. That’s because those lead guitar styles rely much more on phrasing and expression with only a few notes (instead of fast guitar scale runs and flashy lead guitar licks.)
3. Use Silence Between Your Guitar Licks In Your Lead Guitar Solos.
Yep. Sometimes silence is the most creative “lead guitar idea” you can “play” in guitar solos.
Simply finish one of your guitar licks… and stop. Hold the silence out for a full 2-3 seconds. Then play the next lead guitar lick.
Watch this video to see an example:
4. Use Rubato In Your Guitar Licks And Guitar Solos.
Rubato is a little-known (and simple) lead guitar technique that makes your guitar solos almost as unique to you as your fingerprints.
(Using any guitar scale and in any lead guitar style.)
It has nothing to do with playing lead guitar fast.
It has nothing to do with knowing some obscure guitar scale or music theory.
It’s a way to stretch time in your guitar licks (and solos) & “milk” emotional drama from the rhythm of your notes.
Yngwie, Jason Becker, Eddie Van Halen, Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai and others all use it in their guitar solos.
And although it is simple, it’s very hard to do Rubato the same way as someone else.
That’s why, when you get good at Rubato, you may hear others say: “this totally sounds like you” the moment they hear your guitar solos (no matter what guitar scale you use).
Want to see how it works?
5. One-Up The Guitar Phrasing Of Your Favorite Guitarists’ Solos
As you get good at using the “grading scale” for your lead guitar licks – practice doing the same with a guitar phrasing exercise that uses guitar solos from your favorite bands.
Here is how:
Learn any guitar solo you like. Then break it down into individual lead guitar licks. Refine each of the guitar licks until it sounds like a 10 to your ears.
The best part?
This process is entirely subjective. Meaning: there is no right or wrong to way to do these steps. If your version of that lead guitar lick sounds like a 10 to you – it’s a 10 as far as you should be concerned. (The only caveat is: you must be honest with yourself.)
As you practice refining lead guitar licks (whether your guitar licks or anyone else’s guitar licks), don’t forget about the rhythm of the notes.
6. Use Syncopation In Your Guitar Licks And Guitar Solos.
Here is a quick story:
When I was learning to play lead guitar, I developed good guitar technique and learned many scales.
When I tried to play guitar solos, my guitar licks seemed to lack fire and emotion.
No matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to express emotion when I played guitar solos.
This went on for while, until my lead guitar teacher heard one of my guitar solos and asked:
“Do you always play your guitar licks starting on the downbeat?”
This question helped me uncover the reason my guitar solos lacked feeling and why I struggled to express emotion.
And today, I teach you one of the best lead guitar tools for injecting emotion into your guitar playing:
It’s a very simple lead guitar technique that you can use to express emotion in your guitar licks even if you are not an advanced lead guitar player yet.
Watch this video and I’ll show you how:
Lead Guitar Soloing Tip #3: Create Guitar Licks That Integrate Scale Sequences With Arpeggios. Here Is How:
It’s frustrating when you know many lead guitar techniques well… but only know them in isolation.
This is often a limiting factor when lead guitar plays try to create awesome guitar licks and solos.
The solution is: Integration.
This is where you combine lead guitar techniques together to create cool guitar licks and solos.
One great exercise is to practice combining lead guitar scale sequences and lead guitar arpeggios.
Here is one example:
Question: But Tom Hess, what if I don’t want to play fast guitar solos? What if I just want to play slow guitar licks and guitar solos in rock and blues? Will this “integration” practice still help me?
Answer: Yes. Integration is NOT “style-specific”. It’s also not technique-dependent. You can combine any lead guitar ideas (using any guitar scale) to play better guitar solos.
But speaking of things being “style-specific”…
Check out this lead guitar video where I show one of my blues guitar students how to play better blues guitar solos using… arpeggios (of all things):
Now that you know how to use sequences to play better guitar licks and solos – I want to help you with the next area of lead guitar playing:
Memorizing all your scales all over the guitar, so you are musically free to play better guitar solos.
Seems like a big task? It is hard for most people, but it doesn't have to be for you. I put together a simple eGuide that boils down this challenge into a few simple steps that make this goal easy to reach.Download your copy today by clicking the green button below and finally take the mystery out of soloing all over the fretboard.
About 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.Improve your guitar playing with rock & metal guitar lessons online.
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