How To Increase Your Lead Guitar Sustain (Without Active Pick Ups Or Special Pedals)
by Tom Hess
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If you want to get more life out of every note you play with great lead guitar sustain, this article will make you smile from ear to ear.
Here is why:
I'm going to reveal my best tips for getting virtually infinite lead guitar sustain in your playing.
And you'll do it without shelling out cash for a sustainer, active pick ups, pedals, new amps or even new strings.
Here is all you need:
- Your 2 hands,
- A stiff guitar pick (that doesn't flex when you hit the string)
- And an amp with its gain turned up all the way to 10.
(Oh, and you’d better have your guitar volume and “tone” knobs turned up to 10 too…
...but that goes without saying.)
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After your lead guitar sustain improves, use the tips below to get more drama from every guitar lick you play:
Lead Guitar Solo Tip #1: Make Your Notes Sing. Here Is How:
The secret to making notes sing is… vibrato.
Put simply: the better your vibrato is, the better your lead guitar sustain.
Here are the most important vibrato playing tips:
- Avoid fast and narrow vibrato. This sounds like a mosquito buzzing around… and it makes your entire guitar playing sound nervous.
- Keep your vibrato in tune at all times. This means: release the string all the way down to its original pitch in between the vibrato bends.
Lead Guitar Solo Tip #2: Dramatize Your String Bends
What’s the most dramatic part of a string bend? Nope, it’s not the bend itself.
The answer is: the release of the bend.
And the more lead guitar sustain you have, the longer you can stretch out the release of your string bends.
You do it by: using more pre-bends in your guitar solos (where all you hear is the release of the bend)…
…and by slowing down the release of regular bends.Watch this video to see how bends are stretched out to sound better with more lead guitar sustain:
And keep the finger doing the bend right next to the fret wire. See the photo below:
Bonus Tip: when you bend strings, wrap your fretting hand thumb over the neck of the guitar.
This is one of those little guitar technique tips that makes a big difference in your guitar sustain and overall playing.
Lead Guitar Solo Tip #3: Articulate Notes Without Picking Them
To me, the best part of playing electric lead guitar are all options you have for articulating notes.
And one of the best ways to articulate notes is…
… to slide into them.
And I don’t mean simply doing a boring ascending slide (from a lower note to a higher note) or a descending slide (to a lower note).
I mean doing something way cooler, called: “backslides”.Watch this video to see how to do backslides:
Lead Guitar Solo Tip #4: Modulating Pitch Function
I saved the best for last.
Modulating pitch function means holding out a single note as chords change under it. As this happens, the function (feeling) of the note changes (modulates).
Your “one note” suddenly expresses a whole waterfall of emotions!Watch this lead guitar video to see and hear what I mean:
Now that you know how to make your lead guitar sustain better – it’s time to improve the rest of your lead guitar technique too.
And I have a simple way for you to do just that.
Download my (free) lead guitar technique cheat sheet to quickly troubleshoot any guitar technique challenge and make your playing feel a whole lot easier than it does right now.
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.Endless guitar sustain is just the beginning - improve your skills in all areas with electric guitar online lessons.
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