Need some help for playing lead

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by zarg, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. zarg

    zarg guitar and computer nerd

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    Heya dudes,

    I'm fairly happy with my rhythm playing but my lead playing is far behind. I don't want to get right into sweeping and all that stuff but I'd like to be able to do some fast alternate picked 3 note per string runs. I'm fortunate to have quite a good amount of time (1-2 hrs a day, basically 8 hrs a day on the weekend) to practice but I just don't know what exactly I should do, there's so many different things and I want to do something that works.

    Whats the best exercise for that? (Examples with tabs are very welcome!)

    I'm lacking (obviously) the speed and a finger coordination too.
    I've been doing the 1-2-3-4 up and down the strings a lot recently, with a metronome increasing speed. The same pattern with going down 1, up 1, down 2 and repeat.

    I'm thinking about playing solos of my favorite bands too, but that seems not really motivating since I feel like I should be able to play decently fast before trying to play actual things, or am I mistaken?

    To get more into the scales I just jam to backing tracks... another question about that: do I really need all scales, modes and that? It seems very intimidating at first and maybe focusing on a few often used keys (like Em,Dm,Am (popular ones for metal)) or are there better methods?

    thanks for all help and pointers!
    cheers! :cheers:
     
  2. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    The following is all just my opinion and may or may not work for you. Others here may agree or disagree with this approach, so take it with a grain of salt.

    Regarding scales/modes... I think learning the modes is a bit of a canard when applied to soloing as it's taught/described by many guitar teachers and web sites. Learning 7 different scales in every possible position is an impossible task for most people. I'm also not a big fan of the CAGED system, though some people have good success with it. I use my own hybrid system which is somewhere between 3-Notes Per String, and modal positions. I'll describe it below....

    IMO, It's much easier to just focus on learning the major scale in all fingering positions of the neck, and remember which position aligns with which mode (2nd position - Dorian, 6rd position= Aeolian/natural minor, etc).

    Just try to keep it simple as possible. For instance, I almost never play in the 4th/Lydian position; I go strait from 3rd/Phrygian to 5th/Mixolydian.... that's a personal complexity reducer (but it doesn't mean I never or don't know how to play Lydian). Also, you may find that one position can occasionally cover 2 modes (7th/Locrian and 1st/Ionian for example).

    So by combining Ionian and Lorain, plus not generally playing out of the 4th/Lydian position means that I really only need to know 5 positions/patterns to cover the entire guitar neck. Once you have your 5 positions/patterns for the major scale learned, then you should practice moving between adjacent positions:

    7th/1st-2nd (combining Locrian and Ionian)
    2nd-3rd
    3rd-5th (in my case, because I don't usually play in 4th position)
    5th-6th
    6th-7th/1st.

    Sounds daunting, but once you know your 5 positions, you'll find it's actually pretty easy. Find little riffs/patterns in each position/mode that you can fall back on when you're soloing and running out of ideas.

    Also you will find that depending upon the backing track, the same scale in the 4th or 5th positions might sound good.... for instance, when playing A Dorain over a track, you might find that E Dorian and/or D Dorian sounds pretty good as well.

    Not to get too deep into theory here, but the reason this works is because the same scale played at a 4th or 5th interval from the original ('tonic') position will be only one note different from the tonic key. Be careful with this though.. you may find that this one off-key note clashes pretty badly with the backing track. Little tricks like this can simplify your ability to get around the neck and still sound great. Refer to the 'circle of fifths' for a visual understanding of this (notice that adjacent keys are only one note apart): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipe...4.svg/400px-Circle_of_fifths_deluxe_4.svg.png


    Try to regularly work all this stuff over backing tracks, it will help you memorize the positions faster. Then, once you have this basic foundation down, you will find that any new exercises you find on the internet that you want to learn, you will end up relating them back to these basic positions that you have already memorized.

    On a parting note... IMO, the most interesting thing about modes, is the underlying chords that you build in the backing tracks that would lead you to play one mode vs. the other.... but that's a topic for a different day!!!

    Good luck!!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2017
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  3. Alternative-Perspective

    Alternative-Perspective SS.org Regular

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    There is no such thing as learning *all* scales and modes. Metal is fairly simple when it comes to rhythm and harmony, so you will not need more than just a handful of scales.

    The semi-chromatic exercise you described in the OP is merely there to help you develop better synchronization. It won't make you be able to play fast scales fast.
     
  4. zarg

    zarg guitar and computer nerd

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    thanks for your input!

    but better synchronization will help me speed things up, I assume. Can you recommend any excercises to build speed and precision?
     
  5. Maniacal

    Maniacal SS.org Regular

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    Start with this as a warmup and work your way to the advanced on.

    Then work on 3 note per string patterns. If you are new to the 3NPS shapes, start on single string patterns in a single position. From there work on 2 string patterns - this is where you can spend the majority of your practice time, refining the movement between strings.

    If you start your ascending patterns on an up stroke, the biggest limiting factor when it comes to speed is the crossing of the string to an upstroke.
    For example, the note with the arrow.
    D---------3-5-7
    A-3-5-7- ^

    What you will need to do is reduce the movement you make when crossing the string. The Gilbert exercise is good, but so is this:
    D ---5--5---5 etc
    A-3---3---3

    Stylus Picks are good for this part of the practice ^ as they will catch on the string if you dig too deeply when crossing strings.

    Another part of your practice routine should consist of learning musical sequences. Start with simple patterns of 3,4,6.
    During this section of your practice, work on playing these patterns through scales and making "shred licks". If you don't know where to start, there are millions of generic shred licks on YouTube.
    End your licks and runs with good vibrato. This is a good way of multitasking - working on picking, runs and vibrato simultaneously.
     
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  6. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Learn Iron Maiden.
     
  7. zarg

    zarg guitar and computer nerd

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    thanks a lot Maniacal, I appreciate your input! I will look into it today after work and practice that ;)
     
  8. Maniacal

    Maniacal SS.org Regular

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    You're very welcome. Feel free to post some clips of your picking too and I may be able to pick up on some potential issues or refinements you can make.
     
  9. khm

    khm SS.org Regular

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    Maybe check out Andy James - Shred Guitar in 6 weeks, takes you through all the pentatonic positions, but is done quite well showing you licks and runs you can use straight away. Also recommend Ritchie Kotzen Rock Chops and some good Paul Gilbert lessons on youtube
     
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  10. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    What has worked for me is to learn all positions of the major(?) pentatonic scale and master getting around the fretboard on one scale. Then learning the majors and minors (and hence the modes - just using different roots) can be built on that scaffolding and you'll be used to moving around as such.

    But yeah also metronome drilling various patterns is good. Pick a thing you want to play and then play that over and over again starting slow and working your way up. Write your own licks and exercises. Makes it more fun and then you'll have your own style.
     
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  11. Ancestor

    Ancestor Contributor

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    Practice and play a lot. You'll develop speed. Watch where your favorite players put their downstrokes or upstrokes.
     
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  12. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Whatever makes you want to practice, really. Some solos aren't all that hard anyway, others aren't as hard as they sound, and sometimes, if you try to play something and can't, there's useful information you can unpack in what exactly it is you're struggling to play - if there's a particular sequence of notes you keep getting hung up on, if you can isolate what exactly is tripping you up (the pick strokes, the finger coordination, whatever) then you can target a drill that works on just THAT.

    In general, I'd say if you want to play fast three note per string licks, then a good thing to practice would be scales arranged in 3nps patterns. That sounds a little flippant, but I promise it isn't - practice the stuff you want to do, because what you spend your time practicing is what's going to start coming out in your playing.
     
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