Learn How To Play Better Lead Guitar Licks & Guitar Solos With Rubato

Want to play more expressive and creative lead guitar licks?

Rubato is the technique for you.

This technique gives you the power to transform boring, stale guitar licks with repetitive rhythms into licks that feel truly alive!

Learn how to play amazing lead guitar licks using rubato by watching this video:

Click on the video to begin watching it.

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What makes vibrato such a great technique?

It makes your guitar solos as unique to you as your fingerprints.

Here is why:

There are only 12 notes in a chromatic scale and a relatively small number of rhythmic divisions of a beat.

And all 12 notes and all rhythmic divisions of the beat have been used in countless songs and guitar solos.

But with rubato, you can “create” new and unpredictable rhythm ideas - adding a lot more variety to every lick you play.

Question: “Tom Hess, are you saying we should all try to be as original as possible?”

Answer: No, not at all. I'm only saying that if you want to put more uniqueness into your guitar solos, rubato will help (a lot).

And no, I’m not saying standard divisions of the beat are bad or that you should avoid them.

Only that rubato adds a heck of a lot more musical options you’d never have otherwise.

Want to know other guitar phrasing techniques that make your guitar solos stand out?

Check out these techniques:

Lead Guitar Solo Technique 1: Delayed Resolution

Music is about 2 things: tension and resolution.

When you delay resolution of a guitar lick, you build more tension. And this forces your listeners to pay attention to your playing.

Here is a simple example of using delayed resolution in a guitar solo:

Play the first 7 notes of a D major scale (D E F# G A B C#).

Notice how your ear craves to hear the next note? (D).

That’s an example of building tension.

To delay the resolution of that tension, simply hold off on playing the D note. It can be as simple as that.

Another great example of delayed resolution can happen during string bends.

Simply delay the release of the bend. Slow it down and don’t give your listeners the satisfaction of hearing the bent note come down all the way.

Lead Guitar Solo Technique #2 Modulating Pitch Function

Modulating pitch function sounds really complex, but it’s not.

It happens when you hold out the same note over two (or more) chords in a song or backing track.

For example:

Say you want to play a guitar solo over these chords:

D major 7 – F# minor - B minor add 9 and A7.

These chords all have 1 note in common: note C#.

D major 7 has notes D F# A C#.

F# minor has notes F# A C#

B minor add 9 has notes B D F# C#

A7 chord has notes A C# E G.

If you hold the C# over all 4 chords, it would sound and feel different over each one.

Here is why:

C# is the 7th of the D major 7 chord, the 5th of the F# minor chord, the 9th of the B minor add 9 chord and the 3rd of the A7 chord.

And each note function has a unique sound.

Note: many singers use modulating pitch function to create awesome vocal melodies. They do it by holding out a single note over changing chords in the song.

You can do the same on guitar.

As an exercise, practice transcribing your favorite singer’s vocal melodies on your guitar. And match the nuances of their phrasing as best as you can.

You will create guitar lick and solo ideas you’d never discover any other way. (Plus, it’s a lot of fun to do!)

Lead Guitar Solo Technique 3: Soloing Over the Bar

This is a more advanced application of modulating pitch function.

The barline is the end of the first measure and the start of the second measure.

To solo over the bar, you need to set up a chord progression with 1 chord per measure.

Then you play a guitar lick that lasts over both chords – taking advantage of common tones.

For example:

Say you have the E major chord in measure 1 and an A major 7 chord in measure 2.

Then you play 1 phrase that lasts from measure 1 into measure 2.

To do that, you need to look at the common tones between the 2 chords.

The E major chord has notes E G# and B.

A major 7 chord has notes A C# E G#

As you can see, the 2 chords have 2 notes in common (G# and E).

So, what you do is: play a guitar lick over the E major chord and choose one of the common notes to end on as you go into measure 2.

Note: when you hold out a note, you can do a lot to make it sound great if you ornament it with lead guitar phrasing ornaments.

For example:


To play a backslide, simply play any note. Then slide up to a higher pitch and quickly return back to the original note.

Note: a backslide is an ornament of a single pitch. It’s not 3 separate notes.

Another note: don’t confuse backslides with descending slides.

A descending slide is done by sliding backwards from a higher pitch to the note you want to sustain.

Think of a descending slide as “half of a backslide”.

Question: “Tom Hess, how far should I slide when I do backslides?”

Answer: It doesn't matter. Nobody’s ear is good enough to hear where you slide to. Backslides simply happen way too fast.

And remember: you are simply ornamenting 1 note – not playing 3 separate notes.

Next, we have:

Re-articulation slides and bends.

To re-articulate something simply means: to play it again.

When you do a re-articulation slide, you play a note and then immediately slide into it.

You can do it from a higher pitch or a lower pitch. It doesn't matter.

A re-articulation bend is… you guessed it…

A note you first play and then immediately bend into.

And besides backslides and re-articulation slides & bends…

… let’s not forget all the “normal” phrasing ornaments, like: bends, vibrato, pre-bends, regular (ascending and descending) slides, pinch harmonics and picking hand rakes.

Here is the best part:

You can play the same note several times using a variety of phrasing ornaments:

First bend into it, then slide into it, then play it with a picking hand rake, then add a harmonic, etc.

This way you can hold out a note for 30-60 seconds and it will sound great and not feel (or sound) boring.

And all of this will help make your soloing over the bar phrases sound better.

Now you know how to put more fire & emotion into your guitar solos.

Want me to help you transform the rest of your guitar playing? I can do that for you in my Breakthrough Guitar Lessons.

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