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How To Quickly & Easily Play Difficult Guitar Licks And Solos
By Tom Hess - 03/23/2015 - 02:33 PM EDT

You will not be able to play incredible guitar solos if you are a believer of this common, yet destructive and invalid myth:

“To play difficult guitar soloing licks that use different techniques, you must spend time practicing these techniques in isolation until they are mastered. Once you do this, you will be able to play through the entire solo accurately at lightning fast speeds.”

Even though you can practice advanced licks on their own and it CAN improve your skills for performing those licks - it won’t help you understand how to smoothly combine them together within an actual guitar solo. It is this problem that causes most guitarists struggle with playing complex guitar licks and it’s why their improvising often sounds more like a “collection of strung together licks” rather than a real “guitar solo”.

Notice:You need to begin practicing the skill of combining guitar techniques together in a smooth manner RIGHT NOW… not “later” after you have totally mastered them. This is why:

1. You don’t have to totally perfect a specific technique in order to use it in music (truth is, you won’t master some techniques until you’ve put in years of work)

2. Do you really want to not have the ability to play anything with a certain technique while you spend years mastering it?

Plus, by getting into the habit of learning how to apply and integrate different techniques you haven’t totally mastered into actual music, you will uncover new weaknesses you never knew you had (and would’ve missed while practicing only in isolation). Watch this video about guitar practice to learn specifically how and why this method is the best way to become a better guitarist. This new information will help you “master” the techniques in isolation 10 times faster than it would if you used the most common (yet ineffective) approaches.

Fortunately, being able to combine several techniques together in a musical manner is not hard - You’ll find out why in just a moment. First, check out this video for a demonstration of how this process works and how you can use it to quickly learn how to play advanced licks:

Now that you’ve checked out the video above, go through the steps below to see how to practice combining different techniques in a musical way. As you do this, utilizes any of the following example licks or think of your own licks:

Lead Guitar Solo Lick #1:

Hear It

Lead Guitar Solo Lick #2:

Hear It

Lead Guitar Solo Lick #3:

Hear It


Step 1: Discover (Or Make) A Point Where The Two Licks Intersect

Play through the entire lick at a comfortable speed and find the note or general area where one part of the lick seems to end and the other lick starts.

For instance, in lead guitar lick #1 above, the final note of the arpeggio part of the lick ends on fret twelve of the high e string (followed by the scale starting on the seventeenth fret). This is where both licks intersect. It is important to locate this point, because this is where you generally must alter your picking motion (or playing mindset) to complete the second half of the lick. Going back to lead guitar solo lick #1, notice how the arpeggio part of the lick must be completed using a sweep picking motion, while the scale portion of the lick requires use of directional picking.

If you have not mastered sweep picking technique yet, don’t worry. It’s much easier to do than you might expect. Improve your skills for playing this technique by using the information in this article about how to play fast sweep picking licks.

Note: If you are using your own guitar licks that combine multiple techniques, you’ll need to locate this intersection point by yourself. Do this before you move on to step 2.

Step 2: Make A Smooth Transition By Refining The Main “Problem” Area

After finding the point where both parts of the lick join, isolate this part from the rest of the lick using this process:

*Go through the lick once again by playing it at a comfortable speed, only this time play the section from step 1 a few times when it comes up in the lick. The point of this is to strengthen the transition from one part of the lick to the next. By doing this, the entire lick will feel seamless and smooth (Note: don’t simply play with more speed to try to cover up mistakes).

*Next, play through the lick again (without any repeated notes) 3 times consecutively. Then on the 4th repetition, play the idea from step 1 several times as you did just a moment ago in the point above this one.

Go back and watch the video above one more time to see and hear the fast results that you get from using this guitar practice approach.

Don’t worry about playing as fast as you can right now, simply pay attention to emphasizing the note where both licks join together, and doing so smoothly and with great accuracy.

Step 3: Make Variations Of The Whole Lick Using Different Rhythms

After you feel more strong with combining different techniques into the lick you are practicing, you’re ready to make the lick feel as musical as possible. Do this by using the following ideas:

For several minutes, play the complete lick using varying note rhythms. For instance, if the original licks used only 8th or 16th notes, alter it by letting some notes ring out longer than others or using rhythms such as triplets. Force yourself to use as much variety from one repetition to the next (this will vastly improve your ability to be creative). Also, repeat notes if you like (you don’t have to play each note only once).

Learn more about playing rhythmic variations within your guitar licks by checking out this video on how to play lead guitar solos.

As you play through the variations in your lead guitar lick, observe the musical tension (drama) that is made when you hold certain notes longer than other ones. For instance, as you play guitar lick #1, contrast the tension built by holding the last note on the 13th fret of the G string to the tension created when holding the note on the 17th fret of the high E string... as you can tell, this difference is HUGE!

Find out more on the topic of building TONS of musical tension while playing guitar solos by checking out this video how to use guitar to attract women.

Step 4: Make The Entire Lick Sound Better Using Creative Guitar Phrasing

The last step for making the main lick you began with sound musical and expressive is to enhance it using creative guitar phrasing techniques. Select any of the variations you made in step 3, and apply any of the following approaches to make it sound as musical as possible:

1.   Emphasize different notes in your lick by using different types of vibrato - from narrow to extra heavy. If you aren’t sure how this is done, read the information in this article on how to play vibrato on electric guitar.

2.   Play exclusively with hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides and other legato techniques. Get various examples of how to do this by reading this article on the topic of how to play great blues guitar solos.

3.   Use the ideas in this article about how to play killer rock guitar solos to emphasize the notes in your licks that are a single fret apart.

Once you’ve completed the steps above, you’ll understand how to play awesome lead guitar licks by putting together any amount of guitar techniques. However, there is much more to becoming a great lead guitarist. To quickly become a better lead guitarist, work with the best online metal guitar teacher.


About The Author:
Tom Hess is a professional touring musician, recording artist and online guitar teacher who teaches guitarists from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. On his website,, you can get additional free tips about guitar playing, guitar playing resources , mini courses and surveys.

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