How To Play Lead Guitar

This how to play lead guitar lesson shows you how to play guitar solos. A guitar lesson video and downloadable guitar tab are included further down the page -- BUT it's highly recommended that you read over the material first.

Before Beginning: Do you know how to play power chords?

Are you familiar with a basic guitar pentatonic scale? If so, let's rock!

How To Play Lead Guitar Overview

This lead guitar lesson is going to show you a few "secrets" to get you started playing guitar solos. That way, when you go to learn a favourite solo from a guitar tab, or create your own solos, you'll have a place to start from :-)

We're using the key of A minor for this lesson. We'll be using ideas from the A minor pentatonic and blues scale. Some patterns and guitar techniques such as string bending, slides, hammer ons and pull offs will be demonstrated. Don't worry if you don't know what those terms mean -- it'll be clear by the end of the guitar lesson :-)

You'll be able to watch the video and download the guitar pro tab in PDF format -- they are located at the bottom of this page. In the guitar lesson video I'll demonstrate the ideas for you and show some tips.

Key Points:

  • We'll be using a "gain" or 'distortion" setting. If you have no idea what this means, check out this lesson on amp settings.
  • We'll be using the familiar "box" shape. In A minor that's in 5th position. 5th position on guitar means that the 1st finger on your fretting hand is lined up with the 5th fret.
  • Jamtracks are excellent tools to use when you want to learn to play lead guitar. You can create your own or find them online.
  • note: Sept. 17, 2011 -- I'm planning on having jamtracks available on this website in the near future. Each jamtrack will also include written instructions and guitar tabs to help you learn.

When you want to learn how to play lead guitar, there are some important questions to ask yourself...

  • What key are you in?
  • Which pentatonic scale shape can you use -- and where is it on the neck appropriate to the key you are in? We're using the common box shape that most people are at least familiar with for the purpose of this guitar solo lesson.
  • Do you need a little work with your technique? Technique refers to the mechanical aspects of playing lead guitar. Guitar soloing skills such as string bending, hammer ons, alternate picking, etc.
  • Do you have a good understanding of how to read guitar tab? This way you can try learning and analyzing some of the guitar solos you love that can be found on the internet. One of the best tools for learning how to play lead guitar that I've seen is called Guitar Pro. See my review of Guitar Pro tab software here.

How To Play Lead Guitar: Practice Guidelines and Resources

  • If you haven't already done so, get these free downloadable guitar scale charts in the key of A minor.
  • Learn the scale shape 2nd from the top on the above scale chart. You downloaded it, yes? It's the one we'll be using in the guitar lesson video.
  • Download the Guitar Tab For This Lesson Here. You'll need Adobe Reader (the latest version is recommended) installed on your computer in order to download these PDF files. You can get Adobe Reader here (a new window will open so you can download it without leaving this page).

  • By the way, I created the tab with Guitar Pro software. It has some of the lead guitar licks and ideas that I demonstrate in the video. If you missed it earlier, you can read my review of Guitar Pro here.
  • Important: With hammer ons and pull offs, pay close attention to how they are demonstrated in the video. Ideally, you want them to be as loud as the picked notes. Accuracy and speed are required. Not brute force.
  • Speaking of pull offs, you need to have 2 fret hand fingers ready to go on the same string. The higher sounding note is pulled off to the lower sounding note below. The finger responsible for the lower sounding note needs to be ALREADY IN PLACE.
  • Pick the note you will pull off. Gently "flick" the string downwards to the floor as you lift your finger off at the same time. See the video for more on this. This is VERY important if you wish to develop clean, fast legato playing.
  • The guitar pro tab for this lesson that you can download for free -- these are just suggestions to free up your mind. Try to duplicate them, but don't worry about being perfect!
  • Just getting the patterns under your fingers and into your ears will start to plant seeds that will produce results for a long time!
  • You'll come up with many of your own twists, turns and variations as you develop your skills. Nobody learned how to play lead guitar overnight!

Important Tip: If you want to transpose the minor pentatonic scale into a different key, simply move the "box shape" to a different location on the guitar fretboard. In other words, if you move the box shape so your 1st finger is lined up with the 8th fret, you will now be in the key of C minor.

Don't know what different keys are? Read This Guitar Keys Lesson for more insight.


A Minor Pentatonic Scale Lesson Includes a free jamtrack.

Amp Settings

Learn Guitar Fretboard

Thanks for tuning in and tuning up at this how to play lead guitar lesson. Good luck with it, and please feel free to leave any comments below. If you have any questions, contact me. I'm happy to answer your questions!

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