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How to start playing lead

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Active Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

Hi guys, this is my first post aside from the intro forum. I've done a search, but none of the older threads helped me. Anyways, the thing is, I have an acoustic right now and I'm planning on playing electric in the long run. I'll probably get an electric as soon as I figure out how to play single strings. I know how to play some chords already, but a friend suggested that I immediately transfer to playing single strings as playing chords right now will develop habits that I'd need to break when I play electric. Problem is, I have no idea how to start playing lead. I don't know my scales, I forgot most of my music theory. I just need some pointers and/or advice as to how to start playing lead. Thanks guys, and sorry for the redundant post.

Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1066

You play chords on electrics too.

Honorable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 420

yeah, electric players do play chords, but here is a great site for this type of thing. It basically relies on the pentatonic scales, but this should get you started. From here learn major scales, minor scales, anything and you will be on your way. But this is a good start.

Hope that helps a bit, by the way, learn the pentatonic scales, you can click a link in the very first sentance of the page.

Thanks Dudes!
Keep on Rockin'


Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4472

And don't forget there are also some great articles on lead playing and improvising here at Guitar Noise (you'd be surprised how many people on the forum pages never visit the rest of the site! Could answer (or start to answer) tons of questions :wink: )

Anyway, give this page a look:

All the articles are pretty good. The first and last lessons listed on the page are good places to start.


Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1259

You can play chords on electric and they don't have to be power chords. Also, you can play leads on acoustic. They really aren't different instruments, just variations.

To start playing leads, learn some basic theory, learn the fretboard. Scales, major/minor/blues are really important to learn. Others can come with time. Learn some signature riffs to include in your leads. Arrpeggios are great to learn.


Vacate is the word...Vengance has no place on me or her...Cannot find a comfort in this world.

Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5582

I am going to make one of those fantastic promises you see all the time.


But I am not kidding you. I promise you this works, and you will see for yourself.


You do not have to know a single scale to do this, you can start NOW.

A great example of this is Come As You Are by Nirvana. Listen to the solo. Kurt Cobain simply plays his own vocal melody line note for note.

This will guarantee you a great solo 100% of the time. It cannot fail.

Another example is Lucy In the Sky by the Beatles. Listen to the verses. Just behind John Lennon's voice you will hear him playing his own vocal line on slide guitar note for note. It always works.

But this is not as easy as it sounds. It is extremely difficult to make the guitar sound like the human voice. But that is good. Because you will have to learn very subtle nuances to do this. You will need to slide, to use vibrato, pull-offs and hammer-ons to do this.

So, play some easy strumming songs like Horse With No Name. Record it. Now go back and play the vocal melody line over it. Try to make it sound like a human voice. It will take lots of practice, but I promise you it will sound great when you get it right.

Learn the Major, Major Pentatonic, and Minor Pentatonic scales. These are the scales that are used to play lead guitar more than any others. In time learn even more scales.

But if you want to play lead today, simply copy the vocal melody line. It works.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis