Looking for lead guitar lessons? Then you’re in the right place!
In this free guitar lesson you will learn:
- 16 quick and easy tips which will help you become an awesome lead guitarist.
- The no 1 lead guitar secret that will make you sound amazing!
- 5 must know essential guitar scales.
- 2 super easy ways that are guaranteed to give you the ultimate guitar tone.
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On this page you will find a selection of lead guitar lessons which are available for guitarists of ALL levels
Beginner Lead Guitar Lessons
To become an amazing lead guitarist, you must understand what key a song is.
Don’t be scared!
We understand that music theory can be daunting and boring.
However, understanding musical keys is the secret to becoming an amazing lead guitarist.
How do I diagnose the key of a song?
Before we run through any scales, it’s important that we understand how to diagnose the key of a song.
Here are 3 tips and tricks which will help you diagnose the key of a song.
Tip #1 Ask one of the other musicians what key the song is in
If you’re not sure what the key of a song is, just ask.
This is a quick fire way to find out the key of a song.
However, be careful! Not all musicians know their keys.
So if they get it wrong, you can try this next.
Tip #2 Find out which chord is ‘chord 1’
Chord 1 (sometimes written in Roman numerals: chord I) is the chord that tells us the key of the song.
So for example, if chord 1 is a C, the song is in the key of C major!
Important: chord 1 is NOT always the first chord of a song. It can be, but it isn’t always.
In a lot of songs, you’ll find that there are three major chords, for example:
C | F | G | |
Notice which two of those chords are next to each other in the alphabet?
Yep. F and G.
The odd chord out is C… and that’s our chord 1.
So the song is in C.
This is a surefire way of determining the key of a song.
Here’s another sequence:
D | C | G | |
Which two of those chords are next to each other in the alphabet?
Yep. C and D.
So which chord is the odd one out?
So the key is G.
Unfortunately we don’t always have all three major chords in a song, so to help you along, here’s a table that shows all the chords in all the keys:
This table also tells you which minor chords are in which keys.
If you want to use the natural minor scale, you need to identify chord 6 rather than chord 1.
Tip #3 If all else fails, use pentatonics
If you’re still not sure what key the song is in, pentatonic scales are your best option.
With pentatonics, we don’t need to figure out chord 1.
We can pick any chord and match a pentatonic scale to it.
For example, if we look at this sequence again:
D | C | G | |
To jam along with this sequence we could use the D major, C major or G major pentatonic scales.
Just make sure to match major pentatonics to major chords and minor pentatonics to minor chords.
Lead Guitar Lessons | Beginner Guitar Scales
If you’re a beginner guitarist, you must know these scales :
- The Minor Pentatonic Scale
- The Major Pentatonic Scale
- The Blues Scale
For the purpose of today’s lead guitar lessons, we’re going to keep each these scales in the key of A.
The Minor Pentatonic Scale
This scale should be the first lead guitar scale that you learn, it is one of THE most popular lead guitar scales.
Here’s the tab:
To learn more about pentatonic scales go here:
The Major Pentatonic Scale
The major pentatonic scale has a bright and vibrant sound, it works perfectly over anything in a major key.
Here’s the tab:
To learn more about scales go here: Learn Guitar Scales In 8 Easy Steps
The Blues Scale
The blues scale is perfect for… yep you guessed it! Blues music.
Here’s the tab:
To learn more about how to play the blues go here: Blues Guitar Lessons – 4 Ways To Sound Awesome Quickly
When can I use these scales?
You can use these scales over the following situations:
- The A Minor Pentatonic Scale – any song with an Am in it.
- The A Major Penatonic Scale – any song with an A major in it.
- The A Blues Scale – An A blues.
If these are the first scales that you have learnt, we recommend focusing on the A minor pentatonic scale for the first 6 months of your guitar journey. It’s best to be able to use ONE scale well, rather than know 10 scales and not be able to use them musically.
Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier
It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.
With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again. Click here to download your copy.
Lead Guitar Tips
If you’re new to lead guitar, here are some essential tips which will help get you started on your lead guitar journey.
1) Give the music room to breathe.
If you’re playing lead guitar, you don’t want to over power the music. Give it room to breathe. Add something which compliments the music.
2) Use effects sparingly!
Effects are meant to garnish your guitar sound. Use them sparingly. For example, you wouldn’t want to pile on the gain if you’re playing a ballad.
3) Don’t play the same chord voicings as the other guitarist
There’s nothing worse than two guitarists playing the EXACT same chord voicings. If you both want to play chords, make sure that you play a different voicings.
4) If in doubt, play the root note!
If you’re stuck on what to play, just play the root note of a scale! This is GUARANTEED to always work.
The root note is your hero note, it will ALWAYS sound good.
5) Play something which compliments the music
The worst lead guitarists are the ones which play constant streams of notes.
When you play lead guitar, don’t just play ALL the notes you play.
Think of lead guitar as the seasoning to your steak.
In small doses, the flavouring adds to the meal and enhances it.
Where as if you add too much seasoning, the flavour of the meal becomes too over bearing.
TOO many notes can be overwhelming for the listener.
Intermediate Lead Guitar Lessons
If you’re an intermediate guitarist, you must have a solid understanding of the following scales :
- The Major Scale
- The Minor Scale
For the purpose of this example, we’re going to keep both examples in the key of A.
The Major Scale
Here’s the tab for the A major scale.
The Minor Scale
Here’s the tab for the A minor scale.
When can I use this scale?
99% of all the music you’re likely to encounter is based around these two scales.
If you have a good understanding of both of these scales, you WILL become an amazing lead guitarist.
Here’s a simple rule that you can use to understand scales and keys.
Major scales work over major keys.
Minor scales work over minor keys.
It’s as simple as that, so if you ever see something in a major key.
- Use a major scale.
If you ever see something in a minor key, use a minor scale!
For example, if something was in the key of C major.
- Use a C major scale.
If something was in the key of A minor.
- Use an A minor scale.
Can you see how the key of the scale, relates to the key of a song? It’s a perfect match.
This works for ALL keys.
To learn more about how to play guitar scales in ALL keys and theory, check out these lessons:
Intermediate Lead Guitar Lessons | Lead Guitar Techniques
If you want to become an epic lead guitarist, you must learn learn some lead guitar techniques.
The four main lead guitar techniques are :
- Alternate Picking.
- String Bending.
With these four lead guitar techniques combined, you will have the power to sound awesome!
Lead Guitar Lessons | Alternate Picking
Alternate picking is a must know if you want to become a lightening fast lead guitarist.
Watch this video to learn how to alternate pick.
Lead Guitar Lessons | String Bending
String bending adds real character and emotion to your guitar solos!
Watch this lesson to learn how to string bend.
Lead Guitar Lessons | Sliding
Sliding technique is a great way of adding smoothness to your lead guitar playing.
Watch this video lesson to learn all about sliding technique.
Lead Guitar Lessons | Vibrato
Having good vibrato is the difference between being an epic lead guitarist and an okay one.
If you want to add shimmer and class to your lead guitar lines, watch this video:
Setting Up Your Amp
It’s important that you set up your amp correctly.
Most beginners will find a setting which they like and religiously stick to it!
However, try and experiment with the settings on your amp.
Discover what the different controls do and how this effects your guitar sound.
You may like a bright, jangly sound or a deep roaring guitar sound!
The most important thing is that you find a sound which works for you.
Here are a few of our favourite amp settings.
Feel free to tweak them until you find YOUR tone.
The Bright Jangly Tone
Use this amp setting if you want your lead sound to have a bright sparkly sound.
The Epic Lead Sound
If you want to sound like you’re soloing off the top of a mountain, use this amp setting.
The Crunch Sound
This setting is great for rhythm chops and sitting in a mix.
Here are a few bonus tips which will help you set up your amp :
- Don’t crank up the gain too much. Your guitar will turn to mush!
- Use plenty of ‘mids’ on your amp. This helps you sit in a mix.
- Use effects sparingly. Don’t let them dominate your guitar sound.
Advanced Lead Guitar Lessons
One of the most important lessons you can learn as a lead guitarist is that sometimes the key of a song can change.
When this happens it’s important that you change scale that you’re using.
So for example, if you’re chord progression goes:
A Major | D Major | B Minor | Bb Major
All of the chords in this progression are in the key of A major, except one.
That chords is Bb Major.
So when this chord comes, try a Bb major scale or a Bb major pentatonic scale over it. This should work.
Advanced Lead Guitar Scales
Even though it’s fundamentally important that you know how to play guitar scales.
Scales can be boring to learn.
One way to get more out of your guitar scales is to learn scale patterns.
This is a fantastic way of viewing a scale through a different lense.
We’re going to learn both of our major and minor scales in ascending thirds in the key of A.
The Major Scale In Ascending 3rds
Here’s the tab for this scale pattern:
The Minor Scale In Ascending 3rds
Here’s the tab for this scale pattern:
Once you feel like you’ve mastered these patterns, experiment with them and try and use it in a musical situation.
Hopefully these patterns will inspire you to a new place!
To learn more guitar exercises, go here: 20 Guitar Exercises To Make You A Better Guitarist
Advanced Lead Guitar Lessons | Bonus Tips
If you’re stuck for inspiration, try and learn some of your favourite guitar solos.
The quickest way to become an epic lead guitarist is to learn how to play guitar solos.
Here are a few reasons why learning your favourite guitar solos can benefit your lead guitar playing.
- Playing along with your favourite guitarists improves your timing, feel and phrasing.
- You can steal licks and ideas from your favourite guitarists.
- It’s fun and inspiring.
Sometimes finding your favourite guitar solo can be tricky, here a few quick and easy ways that will help you:
- Pick 5 of your favourite artists.
- Pick 3 of your favourite songs from each artist. (They MUST have guitar solos in!)
- Learn each solo!
You don’t have to learn ALL of the solos at the same time, just pick one and then nail it.
If possible, try and work out the solo by ear. However if you’re struggling, Ultimate Guitar has thousands of accurate tabs you can follow and learn.
If you can still can’t pick a guitar solo, hopefully this list by Guitar World will inspire you: 50 Greatest Guitar Solos | Guitar World
Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map
If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).
Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.
(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)
We made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. We hope that makes sense!?
NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.
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