Most guitarists share a common goal; learning to play lead guitar. Being at the front of the band, having all of the instrumentation surrounding you guitar lead, is a great feeling.
That being said, it is difficult to get started. Too many guitarists jump into lead guitar too quickly and their playing suffers.
In this article, we will not only discuss how to play lead guitar as a beginner, but how to know that you are ready to play lead guitar as a beginner.
If you have never sat down with a metronome, you aren’t prepared to play lead guitar. Why? You don’t have the necessary rhythmic skills required to play lead guitar. Lead guitarists are supposed to follow the structure of a song will not actually following it.
This means that you need to know how to play within the bounds of a song correctly while not actually playing the song itself. This cannot be done with great rhythmic timing. As a beginner, your primary goal should be learning to play on time.
If you have sat down with a metronome and have developed your timing, then you are on your way to playing lead guitar already.
Before you worry about playing a lead, keep this one thing in mind; faster isn’t always better. Too many guitarists fall into a rut of playing super-fast over everything. This is bad for two reasons. The first is that everything will start to sound exactly the same.
The second is that you aren’t developing any skills except for finger dexterity. You aren’t learning how to fit a melody or a harmony into a piece. When played fast enough, anything can fit anywhere as you wind up with a blur of notes.
Start off by constructing some simple, linear melodies to fit over a chord progression. Try following the progression by outlining the scale degrees. For example, if you are playing a I-IV-V progression in the key of C Major, play the notes C, F, and G over each respective chord.
While this isn’t the most impressive lead, it is a great way to get started. Doing exercises like this will help you to match your playing to the chord properties.
Every single time that you work on a lead, play along to a metronome.
The metronome doesn’t lose its importance once you become a lead guitarist. In fact, it gains even further importance. You want all of your leads to be timed to the pieces that you are playing them over.
The only way to do this is to set your metronome to the progression, or the riff, and work from there. The goal should be for your lead to make sense. While your lead doesn’t need to follow the same note values as the riff, you want your lead’s notes to be actual values that fit within the given tempo.
In the end, the best way to learn is to practice guitar riffs and licks. Grab your metronome, your guitar, and a few riff recordings and start experimenting with different lead ideas. Good luck, and have fun!
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