Scales and Lead
When most kids dream of becoming a rock star, they dream of being the lead guitarist. Let’s face it, lead guitar is where it’s at. There’s no cooler job in a band than shredding lead riffs and high octane solos. So, the question most of us want to know is, “how do you get to be a good lead guitar player?”
If I had to answer in one sentence, it would be, “Know your guitar scales like the back of your hand.”
Learning Guitar Scales
Scales are the building blocks from which killer solos are built. Unfortunately, many guitarists never take the time to learn their scales properly.
There are two reasons for this. For one thing, it sounds boring. I think the thought of learning scales for some people conjures up images of sitting through a classical piano session playing do re mi … over and over again. Let’s face it, that is boring, but your scale practice doesn’t have to be that way.
The other problem is that it can seem a bit overwhelming. There are so many different types of scales, major, minor, pentatonic scales, blues scales and so on. Not to mention the various modes with complicated-sounding terms such as Locrian, Phrygian and Myxolydian.
The key is to take it slowly and go one step at a time. Start with learning the major scales first. These are basic. Once you’ve got them down pat, the next scale you need to know is the minor pentatonic. The minor pentatonic scale is used in so many popular songs that it’s fundamental to learning how to play lead guitar.
From there, you can start to branch out into blues scales and even some of the more advanced scales, such as the three types of minor scales and the various modes.
Once you know your scales, the other key to becoming a great lead guitarist is simply your musicianship. This means you need to have a good musical ear and a sense of how your lead lines fit into a song and how they can enhance the music, rather than taking it over completely. This sense comes with time, listening to other artists you respect and following a well organized practice schedule.
There are no shortcuts, but the journey to becoming a lead guitarist is a lot of fun along the way. The good news is, you don’t need to learn it all at once, and you can play some great sounding lead solos based on something as simple as a pentatonic scale. The more you learn, the more you can experiment and add your own personal flair and inspiration.