Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Learning to play leads on an acoustic guitar

  1. #1
    Member Yodelgoat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012

    Learning to play leads on an acoustic guitar

    Anyone have any suggestions on where to go to learn how to play leads on acoustic guitar? I've been polishing up my skills on just playing chords for the past 2 years and I'm ready to start learning how to create some leads. Right now, its comical when I attempt it. Is there a method or approach that makes this quick and easy? I just need to be able to play some standard bluesy kind of licks for songs like "Wont get fooled again" or "Lights" by journey. No need for speed, just want to play something passible and go from there.

    Links to an online place to learn would be helpful, but it needs to be simple. I'm not looking for a deep knowledge of music theory here, just to stop embarrassing myself.

  2. #2
    Member hFx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Some short Youtube tutorials maybe, to get started?
    My Progressive Workshop at

  3. #3
    I would suggest playing along by ear. Do you know some basic scales, as in major, natural minor, pentatonic? Or a blues scale? Just
    a few to get started. I think it's really important to develop your ear by listening to guitarists you like and slowly play their licks.
    Starting with guitarists that on the simpler side would be good as well. How is your skill at picking up and down? That's vital.
    Also, use your pinky right from the get go. YouTube has lots of tutorials. Look for what works for you. There are programs that can
    slow down the song to make it easier to pick out the notes. I'm sure you'll get lots of good advice from other folks. As painful as it might
    be, recording yourself is helpful as well. You can hear what you like and don't like in your playing, and the improvement, which will come.
    Most importantly, have fun!

  4. #4
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Mesa, Arizona
    If you play an electric/acoustic, use 10 gauge strings for easier bending. Heavier strings are only necessary for more volume. Plugging in nullifies that issue.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

  5. #5
    Member Yodelgoat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    I'm having issues just learning the first and second position Pentatonic scale. Its not something that comes natural to me. I have an OK ear, but that means I hate what I'm hearing. I will have to try some software to slow down the solos I want to learn. I need to have something that will be kind of generic crap that will work for several different songs. Starting with the simplest blues. Its not that simple to me. As soon as I step out from anything totally basic, I seem to hit more wrong notes than right ones. I can memorize the proper shapes and positions, but as soon as the pressure is on, it all flies out the window. Almost like I'm magnetically attracted to bad notes. Maybe I should become a Jazz Guitarist... There are no bad notes, right?

    I am using the lightest .10's on my acoustic.

    Thanks for your input. It helps, but I just haven't found what will work for me. suggestions and advice are very welcome.

  6. #6
    I'd suggest you learn and stick to some basic patterns. The most basic pattern is the pentatonic scale, which in the key of A would be the notes A, C, D, Eb, E G A.

    Try playing a blues in A major and use only notes in this scale in a position that begins on the fifth fret, so in other words, use the notes A, C, D, Eb, E, G, A, C, D, Eb, E, G, A, C, all reachable with your index finger on the fifth fret and your pinkie on the 2nd (C), 10th (Eb), 12th (G) and 14th (C) notes. When you go to the E chord in the blues figure, focus on using an E note in your solo, as either a start or end point. As you get familiar with this, you can also slip in C#, Ab, or B as occasional passing tones, which will give you a more bluesy feel.

    Once you're comfortable with this, try using the major scale a minor third up from your tonic. So again, in the key of A, that would be C major, which is a minor third up from A. Use the 4th (F) sparingly, and when you shift to the E chord again, focus on using E in your solo phrase. When you're got that down, try mixing the two scales together and finding other spots on the fretboard these same patterns can be played, or the same notes can be accessed using a different pattern.

    This also works in minor keys, but here you need to be careful of using the major 7th (in the key of A, that would be C#... use this very sparingly), but all the notes in the C major scale are available to you. This is called the relative major of the parallel minor, and you can use it for any key in which you are soloing. Very handy tool!

    Good luck, let me know if you have any questions.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Pittsfield MA
    Quote Originally Posted by Yodelgoat View Post
    There are no bad notes, right?
    This is ABSOLUTELY TRUE - there ARE no "wrong notes" - unfortunately, you need a very well trained ear and/or a smattering of music theory (one can compensate for the other, and vice-versa) to actually realize this. A few examples of players who are very good at playing "wrong notes" include Jerry Garcia, Frank Zappa, and Trey Anastasio not to mention Allan Holdsworth. Guitar is hard - in particular this next step that you are trying to take. I remember learning to play lead - learning a bunch of scale patterns but mainly just playing along to songs and trying to figure out what "sounds right". 45 years later and I feel that I am starting to really "get it" but there is still infinite room for improvement. Learn a couple patterns in a particular key - you gotta do this - then put on a long jam in the same key and just "screw around" with the pattern to figure out what notes "work" or not. Sure you can go to YouTube and find some basic lead (i.e. "Chuck Berry") riffs, but in my mind that is a dead end - the music has to come from within, not just be some rote repetition of riffs that someone else came up with - otherwise, what is the point?

    Also a hint: those chords you know how to play? Look at the notes that make up those chords - and sets of chords - many if not most of the "right notes" will be notes that are part of those chords ...
    Last edited by The Muffin Man; 12-29-2020 at 07:42 PM.

  8. #8
    Member nosebone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Stamford, Ct.
    The pentatonic minor scale and the pentatonic major scale has no bad notes !

    Start with those.

    Start with an an A minor pentatonic - A C D E G , and find a backing track you like in A minor.

    Have fun!

    This is what I do everyday, teaching 40 lessons a week.
    no tunes, no dynamics, no nosebone

  9. #9
    I would record my own rhythm track on acoustic and spend some time improvising to it. It's a nice way to expand your improvisation and train your ear even more.

    It also gives you the opportunity to correct what you may dislike about your playing. Keep listening back to your soloing and make a decision as to what you like or dislike.

    Literally the difference between improvising on electric and acoustic is the fact that you are "bare bones " on acoustic and therefore its important to work on your natural tone. I do this by playing 3 notes softly with the guitar pick...then increase the volume of my attack. If it sounds harsh I observe how I'm holding the pick and eventually when I feel comfortable with my sound and the notes I choose to play I'm finally able to close my eyes , play a solo..and not think of anything at all which produces decent solos.


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts