By: Bill McRea
Imagine a famous music band playing when suddenly the lead guitarist’s instrument shut off. See? Everything becomes a blur. That is because the lead guitar provides the main sound in a melody; it leads all the sound in music. The drummer, bass, and others are just accompaniment to the lead guitarist.
There are also basics used in playing the lead guitar. First, make sure that the pick brings out the highest tone. The tones differ with the kind of stroke done. Down strokes give out a fiddle tone that is considered the best since it is derived from simple strokes of the muscles. Notice that slow songs sound better because they use down strokes with over tones.
Timing is important as it gives life to the music played. An easy way the player to know whether or not his timing is bad is to record the piece and listen to it and identify where there is bad timing. It could be that the timing is not bad for the entire song; but it might occur in just one break - that is when there is a small interweave of beats right after a wrong push. Practice again to avoid the same mistake.
One belief is that lead guitar players are fast; and the faster the player is the better the audience thinks they are. But the truth is, if they can’t play smoothly it is useless and probably would end up sounding like tin can. The speed can also be dependent on the pick used. A white, thick, big nylon pick gives a nice lead sound, but this is hard to use if the player opts for speed.
The melody of the music must always be visualized prior to playing it. The lead guitarist should make the lead sound match the song and fit its rhythm. True artists call this as the “T” in lead guitar playing. The break should be taken into consideration as a whole and not with every single note played.
Try playing a gig with better musicians: this way your talent is enhanced since there is the pressure of keeping up with the better musicians. These musicians can teach you many techniques without even doing a “one on one” session; just by merely watching how they smoothly they play the music is enough for you to grasp the “T”.
Avoid playing licks. Concentrate and play smoothly and remember that the simpler the tone, the better. Choose an idol - it could be a fiddle, banjo, mandolin, saxophone, or piano player that you can listen to in order to pick up points and ideas of how to improvise. Listen to the real sound of the instrument and feel the beauty of the sound.