5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners

5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners

Lead guitar is a big, big topic and at first it can seem a little daunting.

If you’re a beginner and you want to start taking some steps in the lead guitar world, you will need to know some techniques to help get you going.

In this lesson you’re going to learn 5 techniques that you can use in your playing to improve finger strength, coordination and dexterity. This will set you up for your first steps to being a guitar hero!

Hammer On

5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners

A hammer on is a technique that involves picking a note and then hammering onto another fret with another finger.

In this case you’ll be using the 5th fret on the D and G. Play this note with your index finger, and without lifting that finger, use your third finger to hammer onto the 7th fret of the same string. The hammering motion will create a second note but you’ll only have picked the string once.

Try this in different places of the guitar with different fingers.

If the second note does not sound clear, or is quiet, try to hammer a little harder to start building the finger strength up.

Pull Off

5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners

A pull off is the opposite of a hammer on. This time you’ll fret both notes. When you pick the string you’ll hear the higher note, you then pull off the finger playing the higher note to sound the lower note.

When doing a pull off, give the string a slight downward pull. This will add a little energy to the string and make the second note ring at the same volume.

Slide

5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners

A slide is when you play a note with your fretting hand and slide the finger to another fret without lifting it.

When sliding its important to pay attention to the pressure you’re applying. Too much pressure will cause the note to drag through other frets. Too little pressure will cause the note to drop off before you hit your destination.

Get used to sliding up and down as well as using all 4 fingers across different strings.

String Bending

5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners

String bending is when you play a note and bend the string upwards until it hits another note in the same key. There are many types of string bends but the one you’ll focus on for now is called a full step or a full tone bend. This is bending the string the equivalent of 2 frets.

It’s good practise to play the note you want to bend with your third finger. Place your first and second fingers on the same string behind the third finger to support the bend. This spreads the string tension evenly across the fingers rather than it all being on one fingertip.

5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners

A great exercise to train your hearing for string bending is to play a target note and try to match it.

In this case, the 9th fret of the G and the 10th fret of the B are the targets. Play these notes and get the pitch in your head. Then, bend the note 2 frets lower up to match the pitch of your target note.

You should be able to hear if you underbend or overbend the note.

Alternate Picking

5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners

Alternate picking is essential if you want to achieve a fluid picking style and get some speed going. Start by picking this simple 2 string phrase down up down up. Start slow and focus on the movement of the pick to get the fluidity going.

Once you start to feel comfortable, try to play through a whole 6 string scale. This is the Minor Pentatonic scale. This scale is where all the examples from this lesson have come from. As you progress further into lead guitar, scales will be a big part in your understanding of what notes you can play in certain keys. This scale is a very useful scale to know, especially in rock and blues playing.

Here is the scale ascending alternate picked.

5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners

Here is the same scale but now descending.

5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners

Then, put the two halves together as one continuous pattern

5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners
5 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques for Beginners

With all these techniques, start slow and focus on getting the motions clean and correct. This will get you started on the road to being a great lead guitar player!

About The Author

Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar player from Swansea in South Wales that has written and created content for many high-profile guitar brands and publications such as PMT, RSL Rockschool, Trinity College London, Guitar.com and more.

He works with mgrmusic.com to provide high quality guitar content for guitar players of all abilities from around the country. To date, mgrmusic.com has successfully generated over 32,000 student enquiries for their network of music teachers around the country. Find a local teacher in your area today.

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