Do you love playing shred guitar licks but struggle to come up with cool ideas on your own? Chances are, you believe the myth that good shred guitar playing is only about playing fast. This approach is the same approach that keeps thousands of other lead guitarists from playing powerful and expressive guitar licks. Truth is, you must master the ability to play with both speed and creativity in order to make your licks stand out.
You are about to learn an effective lead guitar method that will immediately enhance your shred guitar licks and make your lead guitar playing much more intense and awe-inspiring. But first, watch the cool shred guitar licks video below so you will better understand the exercise on this page. By doing this, you will be able to integrate all of the concepts on this page into your playing to instantly play much better shred guitar licks. Watch the video right now:
Ok, now you have seen the demonstration in the video above and are ready to apply what you have learned.
First Step: Start with a three string A minor arpeggio. As you play this arpeggio, use a legato style by pulling off from the highest pitch to the next highest pitch while descending. This means, in an A minor arpeggio, use a pull off when descending from fret twelve to fret eight on the first string. Look at the following tablature to see how the arpeggio is played:
Second Step: Play the pattern from step one a few times at a speed you are accustomed to.
Third Step: Once you have played through the pattern from step one a few times, start repeating the highest two pitches every time the pattern begins again (as you saw me do in the demonstration above). For example, while playing the A minor pattern (A C E), the highest pitches are E on the twelfth fret and C on the eighth fret. Each time you play the arpeggio, repeat these two pitches as you are descending like this: E to C to E to C. Then keep playing through the pattern. As you observed in the video above, once you add these two extra notes you completely alter the contour of the musical phrase. This accents the notes in the lick in a much different way, giving the lick a new feel in comparison to the original one. This simple alteration will immediately change your shred guitar licks, making them sound totally killer. See the example below:
Fourth Step: After repeating the new idea from the previous step, you are going to start creating additional variations of the original lick. To do this, simply change the pitch of the highest note in the arpeggio. For instance, if the highest note is an “E” (on the 12th fret), change it to an “F” or a “D” note instead. Then repeat the same idea from the previous step to pull off from the new note onto the second highest note of the pattern (which remains the same as before). Play through these new variations several times.
Fifth Step: Play the original arpeggio lick from the first step and combine it together with the new variations you thought up just now. You will notice a MAJOR increase in the tension level and intensity of the new licks when compared to the original one. Look below to see one possibility of what you can come up with:
After completing this exercise, start to combine the concepts discussed with different kinds of licks (scales, tapping, rhythm ideas, etc.) So instead of using only an arpeggio pattern, use any type of lick in its place and integrate the idea of ‘changing contour’ into your playing to make it much more intense. Then begin creating countless shred guitar licks by completing steps two through five of the exercise above. This will not only give you tons of new shred guitar ideas, but make you a much more creative guitar player in the process!
To quickly enhance your shred guitar playing more interesting (and fully utilize the concepts of the exercise above), watch this creative lead guitar playing video.
Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches, trains and mentors musicians from around the world.
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