How To Quickly & Easily Play Difficult Guitar Licks And Solos
By Tom Hess - 03/23/2015 - 02:33 PM EDT
You will not be able to play incredible guitar solos if you are a believer of this
common, yet destructive and invalid myth:
“To play difficult guitar soloing licks that use different techniques,
you must spend time practicing these techniques in isolation until they are mastered.
Once you do this, you will be able to play through the entire solo accurately at lightning
Even though you can practice advanced licks on their own and it CAN improve
your skills for performing those licks - it won’t help you understand how to
smoothly combine them together within an actual guitar solo. It is this problem that
causes most guitarists struggle with playing complex guitar licks and it’s why their
improvising often sounds more like a “collection of strung together licks”
rather than a real “guitar solo”.
Notice:You need to begin practicing the skill of combining
guitar techniques together in a smooth manner RIGHT NOW… not “later”
after you have totally mastered them. This is why:
1. You don’t have to totally perfect a specific technique in order to use it
in music (truth is, you won’t master some techniques until you’ve put in
years of work)
2. Do you really want to not have the ability to play anything with a certain
technique while you spend years mastering it?
Plus, by getting into the habit of learning how to apply and integrate different
techniques you haven’t totally mastered into actual music, you will uncover new
weaknesses you never knew you had (and would’ve missed while practicing only in
isolation). Watch this video about guitar
practice to learn specifically how and why this method is the best way to become a
better guitarist. This new information will help you “master” the techniques
in isolation 10 times faster than it would if you used the most common (yet ineffective)
Fortunately, being able to combine several techniques together in a musical
manner is not hard - You’ll find out why in just a moment. First, check out this
video for a demonstration of how this process works and how you can use it to quickly
learn how to play advanced licks:
Now that you’ve checked out the video above, go through the steps below
to see how to practice combining different techniques in a musical way. As you do this,
utilizes any of the following example licks or think of your own licks:
Step 1: Discover (Or Make) A Point Where The Two Licks
Play through the entire lick at a comfortable speed and find the note or general
area where one part of the lick seems to end and the other lick starts.
For instance, in lead guitar lick #1 above, the final note of the arpeggio part of
the lick ends on fret twelve of the high e string (followed by the scale starting on the
seventeenth fret). This is where both licks intersect. It is important to locate this point,
because this is where you generally must alter your picking motion (or playing mindset) to
complete the second half of the lick. Going back to lead guitar solo lick #1, notice how the
arpeggio part of the lick must be completed using a sweep picking motion, while the scale
portion of the lick requires use of directional picking.
If you have not mastered sweep picking technique yet, don’t worry.
It’s much easier to do than you might expect. Improve your skills for playing this
technique by using the information in this article about how to play
fast sweep picking licks.
Note: If you are using your own guitar licks that combine multiple techniques,
you’ll need to locate this intersection point by yourself. Do this before you move on
to step 2.
Step 2: Make A Smooth Transition By Refining The Main
After finding the point where both parts of the lick join, isolate this part from the
rest of the lick using this process:
*Go through the lick once again by playing it at a comfortable speed, only this
time play the section from step 1 a few times when it comes up in the lick. The point of
this is to strengthen the transition from one part of the lick to the next. By doing this, the
entire lick will feel seamless and smooth (Note: don’t simply play with more speed
to try to cover up mistakes).
*Next, play through the lick again (without any repeated notes) 3 times
consecutively. Then on the 4th repetition, play the idea from step 1 several times as you
did just a moment ago in the point above this one.
Go back and watch the video above one more time to see and hear the fast
results that you get from using this guitar practice approach.
Don’t worry about playing as fast as you can right now, simply pay
attention to emphasizing the note where both licks join together, and doing so smoothly
and with great accuracy.
Step 3: Make Variations Of The Whole Lick Using Different
After you feel more strong with combining different techniques into the lick you
are practicing, you’re ready to make the lick feel as musical as possible. Do this by
using the following ideas:
For several minutes, play the complete lick using varying note rhythms. For
instance, if the original licks used only 8th or 16th notes, alter it by letting some notes
ring out longer than others or using rhythms such as triplets. Force yourself to use as
much variety from one repetition to the next (this will vastly improve your ability to be
creative). Also, repeat notes if you like (you don’t have to play each note only
As you play through the variations in your lead guitar lick, observe the musical
tension (drama) that is made when you hold certain notes longer than other ones. For
instance, as you play guitar lick #1, contrast the tension built by holding the last note on
the 13th fret of the G string to the tension created when holding the note
on the 17th fret of the high E string... as you can tell, this difference is HUGE!
Step 4: Make The Entire Lick Sound Better Using Creative Guitar
The last step for making the main lick you began with sound musical and
expressive is to enhance it using creative guitar phrasing techniques. Select any of the
variations you made in step 3, and apply any of the following approaches to make it sound
as musical as possible:
1. Emphasize different notes in your lick by using different types of
vibrato - from narrow to extra heavy. If you aren’t sure how this is done, read the
information in this article on how to play vibrato
on electric guitar.
2. Play exclusively with hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides and other
legato techniques. Get various examples of how to do this by reading this article on the
topic of how to
play great blues guitar solos.
Once you’ve completed the steps above, you’ll understand how to
play awesome lead guitar licks by putting together any amount of guitar techniques.
However, there is much more to becoming a great lead guitarist. To quickly become a
better lead guitarist, work with the best online metal guitar
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