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

by Tom Hess

Want your lead guitar playing to sound emotional, personal, and very creative?

Don't worry:

You don't have to be born with musical talent in order to start playing your own creative lead guitar ideas.

Creativity can be practiced and improve just like anything else on guitar.

All it takes is understanding a few simple concepts to start playing licks and solos like never before…

…sound good?

Great! Let’s get started.

Use these quick tips to play creative lead guitar licks in no time:

Lead Guitar Creativity Tip #1: Learn To Play What You Hear In Your Head

It’s tempting to learn a lot of licks in order to try to sap the creative ability from your favorite players… However, memorizing tons of licks, techniques, scales, arpeggios, etc., will not help you become a more creative lead guitar player.

Think of these types of things like your tools for creativity.

They are the medium to help you get what’s in your head into the world through guitar.

To be truly creative, you need to learn how to play exactly what you hear in your head, without hesitation.



Make aural skills a top priority.

One way to do it:

Learn how specific notes in a scale feel over certain chords in that same scale. Play each note over every chord and observe closely how it feels to you. This helps you build a vocabulary of emotions to choose from while playing.

Then begin using notes/chords outside of the scale and repeat this process.

How To Create Lead Guitar Licks

Lead Guitar Creativity Tip #2 –Squeeze Emotion From Every Note

Common frustrating lead guitar mistake: Playing tons of notes in a given lead guitar lick or solo without creating a single memorable phrase.

Why does this happen?

Many lead guitar players do not know what emotions or ideas they want to express in their licks. They play through scales and patterns hoping to run into cool sounding notes.

Doing this creates lead guitar playing that feels directionless and doesn’t sound very musical or creative.


Focus on squeezing as much emotion as you can with every note you play.

Having a mindset focused on playing with as much emotion as possible trains you to play lead guitar licks more creatively.

This makes your lead guitar playing become more creative because you are actually thinking about what you are playing and feeling the emotion of the notes.

Doing this consistently over time gives you the power to pick up the guitar and express your emotions whenever you want to.

Lead Guitar Creativity Tip #3 –Integrate Your Skills Regularly

Don't make the typical mistake of focusing too much on speed or advanced technique without integrating your lead guitar skills together with things like phrasing or improvisation.

There is nothing wrong with developing faster speed or better technical skills, only that you should integrate your skills together regularly.

This prevents the frustration of feeling like a beginner when you can’t be musical with certain aspects of your playing (despite being skilled at the technique itself).

Not sure how to integrate your lead guitar skills together?

I've got you covered.

Learn how to do it using a cool guitar technique called “super slides” by checking out this lead guitar licks article.

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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