Do This To Master Lead Guitar Improvising & Improvise Your Own Awesome Lead Guitar Solos
by Tom Hess
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
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Let me tell you a story (that will help you improvise your own awesome lead guitar solos):
One of my lead guitar students (who wanted to become a great improviser) emailed me – practically pleading for help.
He was (and is) a very good guitar player... but he kept running into a burning problem when he tried to improvise guitar solos over chords.
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
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“Tom Hess, whenever I try to improvise guitar solos over chords, I get pretty frustrated. When I'm improvising guitar solos, I notice the rhythm of my solos sucks! To improve, I transcribe solos from guitarists I like and practice rhythm exercises from rhythm books. But my solos sound pretty lame when it comes to rhythm. What can I do?”
Below is what I told him to do (and what you can also do to improvise your own awesome lead guitar solos and master lead guitar improvising):
Transcribing other people’s guitar solos (and doing exercises from rhythm books) is not the answer. (These things are only making it harder for you to master lead guitar improvising.)
Here is what I recommend:
First, before we even talk about using rhythm to improvise your own lead guitar solos…
… the most important thing is to get control over the guitar as a whole. Each note you play – with any rhythm must sound great on its own.
When it does – you’ll have the foundation from which to master lead guitar improvising.
This video shows you how:
That said, as far as using rhythm to improvise your own awesome lead guitar solos – you should practice improvising guitar solos with rubato.
Check out this video that shows you how:
Many guitar players who practice with a metronome all the time fall back on playing familiar streams of 8th notes, 16th notes and triplets as they are improvising guitar solos.
Learning and practicing rubato is the solution.
Here is another general principle behind learning to improvise guitar solos over chords:
Then, every time you practice improvising guitar solos, improvise guitar solos over chords while focusing on just ONE element of lead guitar playing.
*Practicing* to improvise guitar solos over chords is MUCH different from simply “improvising guitar solos”. Practicing to improvise guitar solos over chords is what improves your skills. Improvising guitar solos simply displays your existing skills.
What are the skills to focus on if you want to master lead guitar improvising?
Here are a few of the most important elements that go into improvising guitar solos:
The better you are at visualizing scales, arpeggios and intervals on your guitar, the easier it is to become a great improviser and improvise your own awesome lead guitar solos.
Here is an example of what practicing fretboard visualization looks like:
One problem you may run into as you work to master lead guitar soloing and improvise your own awesome guitar solos is:
Playing random notes (that just happen to be in the right key) instead of creating guitar licks.
Why does this happen?
Answer: because you don’t give yourself enough time to think about what to play next as you are improvising guitar solos.
There are 2 great solutions for this that help you improvise your own awesome lead guitar solos:
1. Start thinking about the next guitar lick you will play as you begin your current guitar lick (NOT after you finish playing it).
2. Whenever you don’t know what to play next… just stop and think. Let the backing track play. (This tip alone will make you better at improvising guitar solos).
It’s no secret that you need great vibrato to master lead guitar improvising … but most guitar players make a few common mistakes when they do vibrato while improvising guitar solos:
Mistake #1: The vibrato is too fast and too narrow. This makes your guitar licks sound (and feel) very nervous and out of control as you improvise guitar solos over chords.
The solution here is to make your vibrato wider (more on how to do this below).
Mistake # 2: Using instant vibrato all the time while improvising guitar solos. This is where you play a note and instantly add vibrato to it (like an opera singer).
This can sound good sometimes… but if you do vibrato this way all the time, it sounds boring. (Especially in a rock and metal music.)
The solution (that helps you master lead guitar improvising and improvise your own awesome lead guitar solos) is to use delayed vibrato.
Like the name implies – you play the note and delay the vibrato by about 1 second.
Then, when you do add vibrato – your guitar licks will sound a lot more dramatic.
Watch this video to see how to get the controlled delayed vibrato I'm talking about:
Pro Tip: Study singers and copy their vibrato into your style as you work to become a great improviser (on guitar). It’s almost impossible to do this and NOT get better at improvising guitar solos.
“Pfft”, you say – “I already know how to bend strings!”
Let’s find out:
How many 2 (or 2.5) step string bends did you use the last time you tried improvising guitar solos?
When was the last time you played a sliding chain of guitar string bends?
How often do you play half-ghosted guitar string bends?
Ok, I don't expect you to know these names, but...
...these techniques are advanced variations of basic guitar string bends.
They take a lot of control and finesse to play well. And when you can do them, you get that much closer to mastering lead guitar improvising and improvising guitar solos you can feel proud of.
Good news is:
You can learn to play these string bend variations (and use them to improvise your own awesome guitar solos with heart-piercing emotion).
Check out this advanced guitar string bends demonstration and I’ll teach you how:
Another tip for bending: wrap your thumb around the neck of the guitar, so you maximum leverage for bending strings with little effort. Like this:
As you work to master lead guitar improvising – you need to get good at refining each guitar lick you create.
This means: don't settle for playing any lick just once with “pretty good” phrasing. Repeat it over and over to make it truly great.
Watch this video where I walk you through this process in detail:
Now you know the best ways to master lead guitar improvising. The next step is to transform the rest of your guitar playing (everything from your guitar technique, fretboard knowledge, creativity and music knowledge), so you can…
…Finally put it all together and feel like a real musician!
I can help you with this inside my Breakthrough Guitar Lessons.
Here is how it works:
You tell me about your guitar playing challenges, current skill level, musical knowledge and your goals.
I create a lesson strategy and your lesson materials tailored specifically for you.
As you practice your lessons, I am here for you every step of the way.
I give you feedback on your guitar playing, answer your questions live on video every week, give you unlimited email support and train you in student-only live video classes.
And if you do your best to practice what I teach you at least 30 minutes per day, you almost can’t fail to turn your guitar playing into something you feel really proud of.
To learn more, go here right now: https://tomhess.net/Guitar
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.Discover how to transform your guitar playing with the best rock guitar lessons online.
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