How To Play Creative Guitar Licks By Learning How To Refine & Improve Them

Want to play guitar licks that are expressive and memorable for anyone listening?

Here's how:

Learn how to take any guitar lick and squeeze out as much emotion and expression as possible from every note. Knowing how to do this gives you the power to play killer guitar licks on command.

Sound cool?

Thought so!

Learn how to play killer guitar licks whenever you want by using the practice advice in this video:

Click on the video to begin watching it.

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A Note For All Serious Guitarists:

Start taking lessons with a guitar teacher instead of learning all by yourself.
It's discouraging to get stuck in your path towards your goals and unaware of what must be done to get better without someone experienced to instruct you.
This makes improving on guitar become tedious and demotivating rather than exciting - like it needs to be.
This is exactly why I strongly recommend all guitarists take lessons with an excellent guitar teacher.
This is very vital for helping you make accelerated progress, because a very good guitar teacher is successful at getting you to spot where you are on the wrong road, change any ongoing sloppy habits and get new insights about playing guitar that you would not have learned about if you learned exclusively by yourself.
Not only does this make practicing guitar more fun, it makes it a lot less frustrating. In addition, you become a far better guitarist and musician, at a faster rate. When you are all ready to reach a new standard of skill in your guitar playing, I am currently accepting new guitar students.
I have given guitar lessons for over twenty five years to thousands of guitarists and am very proud of the musical victories I have been able to get for them.

That said:

Although learning how to play guitar licks on your own goes a long way, learning how to transform your lead guitar playing to make it truly impressive is best done with a teacher.


A great guitar teacher helps you improve your guitar playing in all areas at once. This way, you reach your goals faster and become a better overall musician in less time.

Learning on your own prevents you from getting the answers you need to overcome problems you just don't understand.

No problem!

A guitar teacher solves this immediately and puts you in the right direction. But don't just take my word for it (I know I am a guitar teacher, afterall).

Take the word of some of my favorite students who had their lead guitar playing transformed through our lessons together:

Bonus Tip #1: Don't Make All Your Lead Guitar Licks Perfectly Symmetrical

For example: Using the same idea for 8 measures or so and only changing the last notes to make it different.

This can be an effective phrasing approach, but it quickly loses its novelty when you use it exclusively.

Try this instead: Make it your goal to squeeze emotion out of each note you play by creating a phrase (with or without a backing track) and then improvising at least 20 variations from that phrase.

As you do this, change its rhythm (but keep the pitch of the notes the same) or change the pitch of the notes (but keep the same rhythm), using different phrasing ornaments such as different styles of vibrato, different types of bends, double stops, tremolo picking, different levels of picking articulation, all kinds of different legato variations and so forth.

Record yourself playing these variations, then focus on soloing freely rather than confining yourself to the approach of creating highly structured phrases that you play one after the other.

Remember: You don’t have to stop using these kinds of phrases. This advice is just to help you break out of this common limitation guitarists put on themselves. Pay attention to the musical tension and release of the way you play in order to smoothly and seamlessly connect one phrase to the next.


Bonus Tip #2: Keep Your Vibrato In-Tune And Use It To Extend Longer Notes In Your Phrases.

Vibrato and bending adds tons of life to your guitar phrases, giving them expressive emotion that captivates anyone listening. However, if your vibrato is not in-tune, everything falls apart.

To fix this, do the following:

Make sure that when you bend the string, it goes all the way up to the pitch you want to bend to and returns back to the original pitch you began on.

When you release it somewhere in between these two pitches, it sounds out of tune and awful. Practice making your bends in-tune by first picking the note you want to bend to, then bending up to that note.

Then return to the original pitch where you began the bend. For better results: Use a metronome to practice this by bending up on one beat and release the bend down to the original pitch on the next beat.

Bonus Tip #3: Create Specific Emotions While Playing

Lots of guitarists merely play solos using the appropriate scale to match the key of the chords they are soloing over.

You make your guitar solos intensely expressive by learning the distinct emotions that certain notes create while used over certain chords.

For instance: the root of a C minor chord (C) feels relaxed, but playing a minor 3rd (Eb) above it creates a strong feeling of loneliness. Play through each scale degree above each chord in the key and listen to how it feels to build your emotional vocabulary.

Bonus Tip #4: Study Licks By Your Favorite Guitar Players

Quite a lot of guitarists think playing solos by their favorite players is the most productive way to practice to play as well as them.

However, memorizing a load of guitar licks by your favorite players accomplishes very little in reality.


This is only one part of the equation.

By doing this, you are more likely to rely on repeating the same licks over and over instead of proactively thinking in a creative manner while improvising or creating your own lead guitar ideas. This stops you from learning how to be more effective at expressing emotions in music.

Instead, learn the licks and solos of your favorite players while studying and paying attention to how they generate specific emotions with the notes, techniques and phrases they choose to play. This helps you get much more benefit for your own guitar soloing creativity. 

After taking notes on a specific solo/lick, integrate what you learned directly into your own playing through focused practice.

For example: If you learn how a player uses wide vibrato to make the end of their solo sound more intense, practice using this style of vibrato in your own licks during your practice time.

Now you know how to play cool licks that sound expressive and creative. Now it's time to learn how to improve all areas of your playing. How? Get started with electric guitar correspondence lessons.

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