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I want to learn how to play lead

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by BigToeify, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. BigToeify

    BigToeify Tele-Meister

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    Hi all. So I’ve played rhythm guitar my whole life. But there has been a been a desire to want have the ability to play lead, throw in some licks, write a solo etc etc. The task always seemed daunting. But now is the time. Can someone please direct me to an online source that will methodically take me through the process of learning scales and understanding how to use them for making music. I don’t have the time or money for traditional lessons so I need to find a good online source. I know there are sites like ArtistWorks, Jam Play...the list goes on. I need some real world advice on where to go online to take me where I need to go. Thanks all.
     
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  2. cyclopean

    cyclopean Poster Extraordinaire

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    Do you ever work out riffs or melody by ear?

    I used to hate getting called on to take a break on mandolin at bluegrass sessions but after a while i was like hey wait i already know what notes fit over what chords because that’s what I’m flailing through trying to figure out the melody line, and then it all clicked.
     
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  3. Cosmic Cowboy

    Cosmic Cowboy Tele-Meister

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    You dont need "lessons" to learn this. If you already are playing rhythm guitar you have a fairly solid idea of whats going on.

    The next step would be to learn your major and minor pentatonic scale. Learn it in one key. A minor is a good one. Learn the scale in all 5 positions. That will get you jamming along to some backing tracks in A minor.

    Get used to using the whole neck in A and noodle around. Its not that daunting.

    A Major is the same patterns 4 frets lower.

    Once you have one key down, the others are identical just the root notes begin on different frets.

    That will get you off and running.

     
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  4. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Afflicted

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    It’s a big world so the trick is getting small, digestible chunks. Start with a 2-octave G major scale and a G pentatonic scale. From there, start picking out simple melodies by ear, and try improvising over simple g-major chord progressions...there are many tracks on YouTube. Be ok with dissonant sounds, but pay attention why and when a note sounds more dissonant.

    Avoid sites that offer thousands of scales, or thousands of things to do with a scale...it will get overwhelming.

    If you want to work through a book, the Berkeley method book by Leavitt is a good place to start.
     
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  5. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

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    I learned by copying existing solos. For me this built confidence in the mechanics of lead playing. Then I started creating my own simple melodies.
     
  6. dpang2836

    dpang2836 Tele-Meister

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    Scales, Scales, Scales? You can do fine by Ear! I, like Lindsay Buckingham, etc. have never learned to write, or read Music. My Sixth Sense is on the Neck. My Brain tells my Arm and Fingers where to go. It is like Magic? Any other People have this "Gift"? Not Perfect, for you Critic's, but fine by me.
     
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  7. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    i say get the book "Blues You Can Use". it will take you by the hand and lead you right into some simple but good-sounding lead work.
     
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  8. ArcticWhite

    ArcticWhite Tele-Afflicted

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    David Gilmour uses the pentatonic scale almost exclusively.
    Clapton too I think.
    This should keep you busy for a couple hours. The first half is technique.
     
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  9. Alex_C

    Alex_C Tele-Meister

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    If you know chords and how they are constructed, you are well on your way. Pick the notes out of the chord that is being played and it'll work, won't necessarily be exiting but it'll work.

    I learned scale shapes, which isn't the most efficient method but has worked for me.
    Many people like Justinguitar: https://www.justinguitar.com/modules/blues-lead-1-essential
     
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  10. Gunny

    Gunny Tele-Holic

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    Your story is the same as mine was. I'm back to my stronger stuff now, on bass. At 50, I made the effort to learn fills and solos. Got my hands on countless books and learned stuff bit by bit. As folks suggest here, and I agree, don't get hung up on modes and scales. That comes later if you need or want it. After a few years of learning on my own, which included becoming fairly proficient at using TAB notation, I answered an advert on a grocery store billboard...looking for a lead player in a rock n roll/classic rock band.
    The guys were patient with me and I had a lot of songs to learn. They played 4 sets (don't think any band does that now, do they?) so many songs to learn and at least half had solos. No music stands or charts at gigs, so had to memorize all those chord changes. I'm not a flashy player, but I proved that you CAN learn to play those solos and be a lead guitar player. After a while, I found the notes "fell easily under my fingers". Sounds cliche but it's true.
    In conclusion, sorry this was a bit long, you can do it. I also went through a ton of new equipment too. Expensive, but fun.
     
  11. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    If I had to do this all over, I'd recommend to do something like the following. It does not need to be done all at once or necessarily order. It's an eventual goal to work toward. And there solos you would be able to play at any point in the process. (Some parts of solos will not quite make sense until the next concept or realization, and then they'll make sense like a puzzle piece clicked into place.) There are, of course, technique aspects to solos, esp. if using a flat pick. Those come along at the same time.

    A) Learn all the notes in, say, the first five frets (open to 5)
    B) Learn intervals and how they work in that zone (octave, 5th, 3rd, flat/min. 3rd, etc.)
    C) Learn how to make major and minor triads (1,3,5 and 1,b3,5), and then see how they make up the chords you already know. This includes inversions.
    D) Expand this to the full fret board. Learn to play triad inversions up/down the neck for any given chord, e.g. C or D or Am, etc.
    E) Learn the major scale, and relative minor. See how triads fit.

    Then something like 75 to 80% of most solos will be pretty easy to grasp. You'll start seeing triads and scale fragments that match the underlying chords in the song. It's quite fun when you start to 'get it.'
     
  12. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree with the others here who have said to start with minor (and major) pentatonic scales. Most of the great players we love base their playing on these patterns, with chord tones added for more melodic possibilities. And, as they have said, it's the same pattern on the neck for every key, just higher or lower on the neck. So, the most common A minor pentatonic pattern is G minor if played 2 frets lower, and B minor if played 2 frets higher.
    And, as they have also pointed out, the same pattern moved 3 frets down becomes the major pentatonic for the same key. It just sounds major because of the notes you emphasize and the chords that it's played over. To move from major to minor it's 3 frets higher. So, that A minor pentatonic pattern is also a C major pentatonic. To make it C minor, just move the same pattern up 3 frets. Here's the A minor (and C major) pattern in the 5 most common positions, and covering the whole neck. Shape 1 starts on the 5th fret, shape 2 on the 7th, shape 3 on the 9th, shape 4 on the 12th, and shape 5 on the 14th fret.
    minor-pentatonic1.png full minor pentatonic scale.gif
    Also, in many songs that use major or dominant 7th chords, you can use the major and minor pentatonic scales.
    In a blues in A major for instance, where the chords are A7, D7, and E7, you can use the A minor and A major pentatonic scales over all 3 chords.
    You can also play over the chords, so you can also use the D minor and major pentatonic over the D chord, and the E minor and major pentatonic over the E chord.
    This doesn't work for minor blues though, where you would only use the A, D, and E minor pentatonics over the chords.
    And, you can use the idea of playing over the chords in any song. Take All Along the Watchtower for instance, where the chords are Am, G, and F. You can use A minor pentatonic over all 3 chords, but you can also use G major pentatonic over the G chord, and F major pentatonic over the F chord.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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  13. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    Agreed with all of the above. I’d probably start by copying the early rock and rollers because the tunes are fun to play and not super hard. Can you do Scotty Moore’s solos on Hound Dog? Or some of the intros to Chuck Berry tunes? Those are fun places to start.
     
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  14. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    take it step by step

    this guy is great

     
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  15. Teleguy61

    Teleguy61 Friend of Leo's

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    Play the melody.
    Learn to play the melody so it sounds like the singer--the phrasing, the nuances, all the little things.
    Then riff around the melody.

    Go for it.
    There's no secret.
     
  16. hnryclay

    hnryclay Tele-Meister

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    Two ways I look at this which may or may not be useful to you. The first method would be to memorize the penatonic shapes in every key, for the minor and major scale. Then learn a few solos by tab, and actually look at what they are doing, instead of just memorizing the song.

    Second, which I recomend is to learn the major scale, the minor scale, and the penatonic forms of both. Not just the shapes, but the actual notes, and how they look on the staff. Learn the circle of fifths, and apply all of these to craft your own solos over chord changes. Practice to jam tracks of known chord changes, until you can hear them. Sing your solos, hear the intervals, and then duplicate on the guitar.
     
  17. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    One thing that can help you be spontaneous is to train your ears and sync your fingers to your ears. What I mean by this is hearing a string of notes or a short melody in your head, and then playing it on the guitar. Start with simple, familiar melodies like Row Row Row Your Boat, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mary Had a Little Lamb, or any other little melody that is already burned into your brain. You'll know when you make a mistake because you know the melody.

    When practicing: Use. A. Metronome. I cannot overstate the importance of this. Yeah, a metronome is something for a kid learning piano, right? Nope! It will make you a better lead and rhythm player, I guarantee. If you've never used one, your first impression will probably be, "this thing is defective!" But guess what? It's not the metronome that's improperly clocking along.

    Back in my TV watching days I would have a guitar in my lap and when I heard a short, catchy melody as part of the show's music or something from a commercial, I'd get it from my head to my fingers and replicate it on the guitar. That exercise really helped me learn intervals (half and whole steps) because after a short while, the fingers sort of just know where to go.

    An important thing to remember as you progress is this: what you don't play is just as important as what you do play. Think of a lead line sort of like when you're speaking: you say a few words, you pause to breathe, you say another word or three and your inflection and tone varies, and then you stop and listen before speaking again. The quiet space is just as important as the noise space. Probably more important.

    As you can see from the various responses here, there are as many different approaches to learning how to play leads and fills as there are guitar players. Try 'em all and see what sticks.

    And always keep it fun.
     
  18. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Chiming in again here -

    What kind of music do you like to listen to and play?

    If you want to get going somewhat quickly for a taste of lead playing, I agree with others here that learning major and minor pentatonic shapes (you can start with just one or two) and B.B. King solos as a great start.

    Note that the _major_ pentatonic often more important than minor in a lot of music (one of the many things I wish I knew when I was 18).
     
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  19. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    It also helps to learn theory, and the circle of fifths
    Circle-of-fifths.jpg It shows you how to build a scale in any key, but it also shows you 6 of the 7 chords in any key.
    The circle is 5ths going clockwise and 4ths going counterclockwise.
    So, in the key of C major, for instance, the 4 chord is F, and the 5 is G, and the chords under them are the 2, 3, and 6 chords. The 2 is under the 4, the 3 is under the 5, and the 6 is under the root.
    So, in the key of C, the chords are C, Dm, Em, F, G, and Am.
    The only chord the circle doesn't show you is the 7 chord, which is a diminished chord, so is Bdim in the Key of C.
    So, following that, in the key of G, the chords are G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, and F#dim.
    Also, the inner circle is the relative minor keys, and they have the same 7 chords, but in a different place in the scale.
    The 4 and 5 are still to the left and right of the root, and the chords above them are the 3, 6, and 7.
    So, the chords in Am, are Am, Bdim, C, Dm, Em, F, and G, the same 7 chords as in the key of C.
    The difference is that in a major key the 1, 4, and 5 are major chords, and the 2, 3, and 6, are minor, with the 7 being diminished.
    In a minor key, the 1, 4, and 5 are minor chords, the 3, 6, and 7 are major chords, and the 2 is diminished.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
  20. AmpHandle

    AmpHandle Tele-Meister

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    You may as well learn how to sing at the same time. Pick a few songs and sing the melody and play along with those notes all at the same time. Learn the melody, chords are in those melodies. Make it easy on yourself you could master it rather quickly.
     
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