How To Improve Your Lead Guitar Licks Without Memorizing Tons Of Licks

by Tom Hess

Doesn’t it suck when your lead guitar licks don't feel very musical and sound like a clunky mess of ideas?

This often happens because:

Guitar players rely on memorizing licks and throwing them together while playing leads in order to get by...

Problem is:

This isn't really how you play smooth, expressive and creative lead guitar licks of your own.

It can get you part of the way there perhaps.

I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having some favorite guitar licks or runs to use here and there because you like them - but don't let this hold your creativity back.

You can take your lead guitar playing much further than this.

So, how do you make your lead guitar licks more creative and expressive without just memorizing new licks?

It’s really simple actually.

Start developing your guitar phrasing and creativity as separate skills in your guitar practice routine.

How To Create Lead Guitar Licks

This is a very simple, but effective approach to help you get started becoming a much more creative lead guitar player:

  • Think of any guitar lick or quickly put together a very short lick of your own.

    Ideally, this lick should be no more than just a few notes. The focus here isn't on adding tons of notes. It’s instead on getting the most musical expression from as little as possible.
  • Then, spend just a few minutes repeating the lick over and over while changing it slightly each repetition by adding a new note, taking away a note, altering the note rhythms, using string bending, speed picking, etc.
  • Rest for a few minutes, then repeat the previous step.

Very simple, right?

Cool thing is, practicing this as part of an effective practice routine massively improves your ability to quickly come up with better guitar solo phrases that blow your old ones out of the water!

Unique Practice Tip: How To Work On Improvising Guitar Licks Effectively

Yes, it’s true.

Everyone (yes - including you) has the potential to play unbelievably expressive, unique and creative lead guitar licks.

The secret to doing is simply to learn how to practice more effectively so you are seeing progress each time you play.

You just need to learn how to effectively practice improvising better and better licks. Most guitar players never even think to try this, and doing it massively raises the quality of your overall lead guitar licks and solos.

Practice Guitar With Limited Time

Ok, so what do you need to practice specifically to play better lead guitar?

You may immediately think of things like technique, speed, phrasing, learning scale patterns, cleanliness, sweep picking or music theory.

The real answer is:

All of these things (and others too), but only when practiced for the right amount of time.

What does this mean?

Practicing things like ear training, music theory integration or memorizing patterns on the fretboard get better much more quickly when you work on them frequently in small amounts.

On the other hand:

Skills like improvising or developing better phrasing respond best to practice that goes on for long periods of time, but not as often.

This is because developing better phrasing through improvising forces you to train your creativity in a variety of musical scenarios.

This is like unlock a musical Rubik’s Cube again and again. Eventually, this becomes totally natural and you effortlessly unlock the cube, playing killer lead guitar licks at will.

Sounds good!

Do this often and your skills improve faster so you become a total rock star at improvising lead guitar licks.

Learn more ways to play amazing lead guitar licks by reading this lead guitar string bending advice.

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 electric guitar internet lessons.

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