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Licks And Phrases

Discover Your Own Lead Style

Most guitar players try desperately to impress people when they play a solo. Perhaps you’re guilty of this yourself. That’s all right, because we all fall victim to this at one point or another. Sometimes this will to impress people can help drive you to develop great technique, but in all honesty you can spot a guitar player trying to impress people a mile away. Most time the only people these types of players impress is themselves and maybe other guitar players.

When the majority of people listen to music they aren’t listening to see if the guitar player can wail or not. Most people aren’t guitar players. They’re listening to make an emotional connection. It doesn’t matter whether it’s sadness, happiness, anger, frustration, or any other emotion. That’s what you should strive for in your soloing: conveying the emotion of a song.

Doing Your Own Thing

Learning to play solos of your favorite guitar players can be a great learning tool. It’s great to borrow a lick or two from them every once in awhile for your own solos, but whatever you do don’t just copy them. There are already way too many copycat guitarist running around. If you just copy your heroes you’ll just be another face in the crowd.
You have your own lead style lurking-waiting to come out. This section sole purpose is to help you discover your own style and clarify it. We’ll show you some licks from some of the great guitar players. Our purpose here is not to show you how to emulate them, but to give you some ideas of things you can come up with on your own. In fact, you should view the notes that make up a lick as words and the entire lick as a sentence. While what you play (say) may not be original, how you play it (say it) can be distinctly your own.

It’s All In The Phrasing

Phrasing refers to not what is played but how it’s played. Again, think about playing lead guitar as talking. Maybe you’re trying to make a point or convey how you feel about something. In fact, often times you will hear a good solo and it almost sounds like singing just without words.

Good phrasing is something you develop with time and lots and lots of practice and playing with others. Phrasing is what separates the great guitar players from the average. When you get caught in the trap of impressing people or emulating your heroes phrasing goes out the door.

Open For Interpretation

This section compromises of many different licks, phrases, and riffs that you can add to your “trick bag”. Think of it as learning to put sentences together on the guitar. You’re already learning the words, or language when you learn how to play scales, chords and arpeggios. Now we’re going to learn how to have a meaningful conversation- to expand our vocabulary.

There’s no wrong or right way to play them. They’re completely open for interpretation which means you should play them your way.


Improvisation basically means “making it up” as you go. It’s recommended that you almost always improvise your solos, because you’ll find what you play to be more honest and you will make marked improvement in your soloing skills. The reason for this is that you’ll always be experimenting, or trying new things. It’s a discovery process. Most of the great solos by great guitarists are improvised solos.

By all means have an idea of what you’re going to play before you play it. When you’re having a conversation with someone you always think about what you’re going to say before you say it. It should be the same way with your solos. It might not always come out the way you intended. When you leave you options open as with an improvised solo you’ll constantly find yourself searching for highs. You may have an off day where nothing seems to come out right, but there will be days where new and wonderful things flow from your fingertips.