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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. cyclopean

    cyclopean Poster Extraordinaire

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    and maybelle carter style.

    But yeah a lot of surf riffs are just pure melody.
     
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  2. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    This whole thing would be much more effective if we could hear you play rhythm first.
    Words are one thing, but if you want to know the next steps, it would really helpful if you could post a few short clips of you playing.

    .....and DO NOT go off on a pentatonic scale jag just yet. The pentatonic scales, particularly minor, will ruin your ear if you don't first learn where they come from and why they exist. It's among the biggest mistakes most guitar players make when learning to play guitar melodies.

    Learn the major / ionian first. Then move on to the next step.

    As the term implies, "Lead Guitar" means to actually lead the group by playing things that imply where you're going to next. You need a serious command of your musical expressions so that other players know where you're going when you "lead" them. The pentatonic minor scale in not the place to start this process.
     
  3. johnDH

    johnDH Tele-Meister

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    I'm also a rhythm player, but I've gone back to having a weekly lesson over the last few months.

    My teachers advice to me had been based on learning pentatonic scales, starting with Am, but also other positions and major scales, and also learning to bend in tune, slide, hammer-on, pull-off and some licks.

    Things I've found out:

    If you're doing a lead break over a chord progression, if you figure out what key the tune is in and stick to the related pentatonic scale, then it works and you don't suck.

    If you play a note off of the scale, then it [email protected]$$ , unless you can quickly adjust, and any bad note is never more than one semitone from a good note.

    The general pattern of notes on the fretboard of a minor pentatonic scale is identical to a major pentatonic with a root 3 semitones higher eg, the notes in Am pentatonic are the same as in C major pentatonic

    With care, you can sometimes add certain other notes dependent on the tune, eg, a blue note such as D# to an Am scale, or a B to a Santana tune in Am.

    And I have a gift:

    It's an excel spreadsheet that I made that plots all the notes in various scales on the fretboard, and you can press arrows to change to different keys. It will also find any common chord in any position, and you can change to altered tunings too. I learnt a lot by making it! See link below. You need excel from recent years, and allow macros.

    www.jocidapark.com.au/circuits/GN2/FretboardToolboxV21.xlsm
     
  4. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    That's really dumb to try to encourage anyone to not learn any theory. Just because you're too lazy to, doesn't mean you should tell other people not to either. Do you also tell people not to bother learning English, arithmetic, or history?
     
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  5. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    B is not a "blue note" in Am. It's the 2, which is just one of the two notes in a minor scale not in a minor pentatonic scale, the other being the 6, which in Am is F.
     
  6. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah, it didn't work very well for all those famous players that are multi-millionaires and sold millions of records. How many records have you sold?
     
  7. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    You seem very angry. Who said I’m lazy? Here’s my honest view: way too many “guitar players” use “learning theory” as an excuse to avoid learning to play. And to say something. Along the lines of what @Telenator said (though I suspect he knows a bucket more theory than me). Instead they sit around alone, memorizing this and that, creating pretty charts to show how much they know. And they may.

    I chose instead to learn buckets of songs. Which taught me most great country, rock, Americana and indie players thought chordally, not in terms of scales.

    Then I played in a successful new wave/post punk cover band for 7 years. While also playing in a successful 1/2 cover 1/2 original old school country and honky-tonk band for 9 years, which sadly ended when one of our core members passed suddenly this winter (slip and fall on the ice right now, of all things). While also playing the last 4 in an original punk band who released our 6th during the pandemic and have 13 really good new songs written during.

    Along the way I learned to listen and have something musical to say. And (perhaps more important) when not to say anything or to say less. And taught myself lap steel.

    So my opinion is you are quite presumptuous to claim I’m lazy. It’s also IMO completely unnecessary in a forum we use to blow off steam and have a little chat.

    It is absolutely NOT necessary to learn a bunch of scales, modes and theory to make great riffs, fills and leads. I’d venture that almost all of classic rock forward has been made by folks who learned their chords and keys and went to it.

    YMMV. You do your way. I hope you post some of your songs and solos, as I genuinely look forward to hearing them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
  8. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    This is all very interesting.
    I made my comments based on life experience. I was learning my scales and chord structure when all of a sudden, BAM, I was taught the pentatonic minor blues scale. It felt so good under my fingers because it laid out so conveniently under my finger tips and offered an easy answer to so many questions.

    Fast forward another year, without a good teacher, and I was in a rut. That flat 3 and flat 7 just kept working it's way into my playing and without the expertise offered by a good teacher, I was lost.

    I was making the mistake of of applying the blues scale to decidedly major chord progressions and it just didn't work. And I suppose it took me longer than it should have to finally figure it out. I am not "a natural" at guitar. I was really bad for long time. But I wanted it so bad, that I practiced until I got it right.

    One of my favorite examples of people who are naturally great players happened one day when I was sitting with Les Dudek. We had agreed that I would shoot his album cover, (I'm a pro photographer), in exchange for a little cash and some expert guitar instruction.

    After Les had played a few examples of things I asked him, "what scales are you using?"
    He replied, "I don't know man, something like,........" and he barely hacked out a C ionian scale. I laughed out loud and said, " ***k you man! This stuff is just intuitive to you!" We both laughed and carried on from there.

    The lesson was, some of us can do it just because we're born with exceptional musical instincts that allow us to hear things in such a way that it all makes sense without a road map. Les doesn't play scales. He plays ideas, phrases, and expressions. It's not a conscious scalar approach. People like myself, on the other hand, have to learn the language first, and then through practice learn to make these expressions in a more orderly way. I am not a natural.

    So, when I see a post about someone attempting to learn to play lead melodies, I immediately jump to trying to help them avoid the mistakes I made in the past. The fact that they're asking for this advice shows that they are not naturals at this either.

    In my several years of study, and teaching guitar, I have seen way too many potentially good players become side-tracked going down the pentatonic minor alley only to find that, like myself, their playing has hit a wall, and they have stagnated.

    I am not trying to make snarky comments. I am actually trying to help. Perhaps I need to work a little more on my presentation.

    I did the guitar work and arrangement on this song 35 years ago. Good thing it was in a minor key. LOL.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
  9. BigToeify

    BigToeify Tele-Meister

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    So what do you recommend I do? I will agree somewhat that I don’t feel like a natural, especially when thinking about soloing. I have written over 50 songs and actually played bass in one of my bands but it took me longer than normal to write my bass lines because I wasn’t sure where to go. It was trial and error. And I stuck to those written lines never improvising ever. So what should I do? How do I approach this?
     
  10. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    To me, guitar solos are about making expressions.

    One of my favorite learning tools has been to listen to other guitar players and learn what they did. Then play some of the same riffs and express them in your own style.

    Here's a great solo to learn because it says so much with so few notes. When you can play this along with the recording, and then apply the same type of phrasings and notes to other chord progressions, so much of this suddenly make sense to you. Doing it will take you further than any explanation.

    Once you have done this a few times on very simple solos, it becomes important (in my opinion) to understand what you're doing and why it works. But you don't need to d that right away.

    The first solo starts at 2:45 and goes to 3:41

    The second solo starts 4:00 and ends with the song.

    Very simple. very expressive. Great place to start.

    Most importantly, have fun with it!

     
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  11. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    I'm gonna chime in again because this thread gone all predictably theory / not theory on the OP.

    You can learn a bunch of book learnin' or not. Whether that is helpful will probably depend on your personality and your preferred learning style. I know great players with a lot more, and (a little) less, theory than me, and they can all play circles around me.

    What I think IS helpful no matter what you study is that take a real simple approach to the number of notes you play. No matter what or how much theory you tackle, when you go to play lead guitar, 90% or more of the notes you will play are going to be the notes in the chord of the song you are playing over, at first, and maybe forever depending on your style. So learn as many movable chord shapes as you can, and play partial chord shapes over backing tracks. Eventually you will need to start using other notes to keep it interesting, but you have to be careful with those, whether they are "in your scale" or not. But the ones in the chords, those are your go tos.
    Focus on timing and tastiness, and not conflicting with the singer. Meaning, most of the time you want to be not playing while they are singing. For what I'm playing nowadays, the "fill" is just one or two REALLY COOL notes played at the perfect time. People talk about notes being cheap or expensive - I like to think of them as expensive. Each one has to count.

    That is gonna take very far no matter how much you understand as theory. Then you can start experimentng playing the Mixolydian scale over major chords, and see how it sounds. Or you might get to the same place by playing a bunch of Chuck Berry tunes and eventually noticing that his particular sound depends on a certain note that is not in the normal major scale. So when you want that kinda sound, you know where it is.
    No matter which way you understand it, you can get to the same place, and nobody really knows which approach is the best fit for you.
     
  12. teletail

    teletail Friend of Leo's

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    I've been playing for 50 years and I've NEVER seen this. What I have seen is a lot of people that don't even know the notes on their guitar and people that couldn't identify an Eb in under a minute if you pointed a gun to their head.

    I'm not saying everyone has to learn theory (although the only people I know that don't value theory are the ones that don't know it) but lets keep this honest. If you compare the people who know theory but can't play to the number of people that don't know theory and can't play, the people that don't know theory will outnumber the ones that do know it by about 10,000 to 1.

    And remember, 94.7% of statistics on the internet are just made up. :D
     
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  13. BigToeify

    BigToeify Tele-Meister

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    Great song and great solo. Up my alley music wise. Thanks for the concrete suggestion. I will try it. I suppose I’ll have to rewind a bunch of times to learn the solo. But if that’s what it takes.
     
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  14. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Honestly I don’t think of knowing the notes as theory.

    If you know 6th string root barre chords, 5th string root barre chords and octaves, you know every note on guitar.

    That plus knowing how keys work - WWHWWW(H) - is really all the theory one needs IMO.

    That stuff plus knowing your triads is all you need to make great rock n roll, including some licks, fills, riffs and leads.

    And that’s like a week or two of work. Not months and months to learn a bunch of scales and then modes, and how and when to deploy them.

    YMMV.
     
  15. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    @BigToeify Paul Davids put up a nice video the topic two days ago. Starting simple with major pentatonic over a single major chord. Add a b3 for some interest. Or not, add the 4 and maj7 to give the major scale, etc. This kind of trying things out, keeping it simple, adding a concept at a time when ready, is a good way to go.

     
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  16. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I agree. The "theory" or whatever you want to call it should be whatever way you want to organize your own thinking so things make sense to you, and so you can remember and use them. It can be done incrementally as you go. No need to go away and study abstract things for six months.

    So, @BigToeify, I'd suggest to just start doing something, like learning a simple solo you like, or humming a melody that goes with some chords you like, and then figure it out on guitar.

    Then you can then check what those notes are and if they come from, say, the major scale. (If you don't know the major scale or major pentatonic, then take a little time (15 minutes?) to work on these in one position.) You'll probably find the notes in the melody are mostly are from whatever chord(s) you're playing over. And the ones that seem most interesting can be ones you pay more attention to.

    And right there you will have made it worth your time to have learned that bit of major scale stuff. It can all build from there a little at a time. For example, you can shift that melody to a different key easily enough. And if you learn a few different 'patterns' for the major scale you can play the melody in different fingerings, and perhaps find a more comfortable way in some positions.
     
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  17. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    As many of us have pointed out, if you know minor pentatonic patterns, then you also know major pentatonic.
    Am= C major
    Em= G major
    Bm= D major
    Dm= F major
    F#m= A major
    And so on, for all keys
    A minor pentatonic scale, and it's relative major are the same 5 notes. It's how you phrase and what chords you use them with that determines whether it's the minor or its relative major.
     
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  18. BigToeify

    BigToeify Tele-Meister

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    I’ll have to take a listen. I need to take it in small chunks or else I’ll feel overwhelmed. This idea of soloing over one chord using a major or minor scale. Then going from there.
     
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  19. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    Start with this pattern, starting at the 5th fret (where it's A minor and C major), and just play a 1 chord vamp using the Am chord. And, experiment with using different bits of notes from the scale. Don't just play the whole scale from bottom to top or top to bottom. You'll soon start to recognize common little 3 and 4 note phrases derived from this scale that are used on many songs. And, don't be afraid to jump around within the scale and skip from a higher to lower note, for instance. You don't always have to play 3 or 4 notes in a row.
    Then use the same pattern over a 1 chord vamp using the C chord, and you'll soon hear how it will sound like C major instead of A minor, depending on how you phrase it and which notes you emphasize.
    20210114_093905.jpg The green notes are the root, but only in the minor. In the major the root is the note 3 frets higher than the green one on the 2 E strings, and the lowest note here on the G string.
    So, this pattern starting on the 2nd fret is F# minor and A major
    Starting on the 3rd fret, it's G minor and Bb major
    Starting on the 5th fret it's A minor and C major,
    on the 7th fret it's B minor and D major, on the 8th fret it's C minor and Eb major, on the 10th fret it's D minor and F major, and on the 12th fret it's E minor and G major.
    Above the 12th fret it just starts all over again, so on the 14th fret it's F# minor and A major again, on the 15th fret it's G minor and Bb major, on the 17th it's A minor and C major, etc
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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  20. BigToeify

    BigToeify Tele-Meister

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    Awesome. These bite sized one chord vamps I can deal with until I can put a few chords together. Thanks for this!
     
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