How To Improvise Better Lead Guitar Licks Like The Pros

by Tom Hess

Want to improvise better lead guitar licks but don't know where to begin.

You're not alone.

Tons of guitar players wish they could improvise better. However, they get nowhere because they focus on memorizing more licks or overwhelm themselves by learning tons of new patterns on the guitar.

These approaches do not help you improvise better on guitar.


Get started improvising better lead guitar licks by trying to squeeze more expression out of every note you play using good phrasing.

This makes your lead guitar licks and soloing more focused on quality than quantity.

Good news is, this is very easy to practice and improve.

One thing you can do right now is begin by making just a single note sound amazing.

Once you are able to do this, you can start improvising an infinite amount of amazing notes.

Here are some ideas to help you get started with this approach:

Transcribe The Melodies Of Your Favorite Singers

Compared to most guitarists, singers focus more on making every note they sing sound expressive.

Transcribe a few short vocal melodies to guitar and observe every subtle nuance in phrasing that they used to make it sound good. Examples of this could be vibrato, glissando (sliding) or dynamics (how loud and soft the notes are).

Then improvise with these melodies to create your own variations of them using the guitar techniques you know.


Highly Emotional Guitar Solos


Practice Improvising Lead Guitar Based On Expression

Many guitarists focus primarily on the notes they play rather than how they play those notes. Focusing on the latter makes your playing more expressive and emotional while improvising.

Use this simple exercise to get started:

Step 1: Make (or find) a backing track that only uses up to a few chords that repeat over and over. For example: A backing track in A minor that only has the A minor chord or alternates between A minor and D minor chords.

Step 2: Play only one note from the key above the chords in the backing track for a minute.

As you do this, use any of these techniques or ideas to practice increasing the expressive impact of that note:

  • Different note rhythms
  • Harmonics
  • Vibrato
  • Bends
  • Tremolo picking
  • Palm muting

Step 3: After you’ve done this for one minute, add another note and repeat the process. This can easily be done for just 15 minutes or so per day to get big results for your improvising.

Practicing this consistently helps you improvise better lead guitar licks that sound expressive and emotional rather than relying on memorized licks or hoping to run into a few cool notes in a scale pattern.

Want to learn more ways to improvise better guitar licks?

Learn one right now by watching the video about mastering lead guitar improvising.

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 online metal guitar lessons.

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