Lead Guitar Lesson 1 - A Major Scale and Song 1

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Welcome to day 1 of this free 10 day lead guitar challenge!

This series focuses on getting started with lead guitar on electric guitar. Each lesson will introduce a new technique and teach a simple solo from a song that uses this technique. Each lesson is designed to follow on from that last as a total introduction to playing lead guitar!

In this lesson, we'll learn the A major scale and assess the basic techniques needed for playing single string lead lines. We'll then learn the lead part from the song 'Boys Don't Cry' by The Cure!

Lead part - A major scale

The lead part uses the A major scale. The full scale numbers (degree of the scale) are shown below.

Blue = position 1. Light blue = position 2. Green = position 3. Orange = position 4. Red = position 5

Alternatively, the names of the notes are shown below for the A major scale.

Below, are the notes we are using for the lead line only.

It can be really useful to use these alternative prompts, as shown above, to help us visualise what we are playing. Not all ways will be helpful for everyone but keep in mind to be familiar with:

  • The scale our lead lines sit within

  • Scale degrees/interval numbers

  • The note names of a scale

Lead part playing tips

Other than learning the scales and notes, there are a few extra tips to help our lead lines shine!

  • When playing notes, we place our fingers on the side of the fret closest to us (as shown in the video) which helps with note clarity and should reduce the amount of finger pressure needed

  • Try create a 'Hand shake' shape behind the fretboard with the chord playing hand, as this angle helps access notes with bigger stretches (similar feel as the open C chord)

  • Try keep the picking motion as small as possible and rest a part of your picking hand to anchor it down as this helps with control

For this example, we can rest/anchor the base of our thumb on the thicker strings and closer to the bridge, as we aim to play the thinner strings for the lead lines.

Building up the tempo

When learning lead lines, riffs and other techniques, it is important to start slower and increase the tempo up to the desired speed. The benefit of this process includes:

  • Learn rhythms with more attention to detail

  • Syncing up the picking hand and note playing/fretting hand

  • Helping our muscle memory

Starting slower also takes the pressure off as we learn and aim towards playing to an original recording. Focus on the tempo at...

  • Half speed - 65 BPM

  • Then, up to 90 BPM

Work towards getting the notes right first, then try to get two clean repetitions of the lead line at each tempo in the video.

Recap

  • We have learn the notes of the A major scale

  • Started to explore how scales and lead lines relate and how they can be used for lead playing

If you've successfully played along to this video move onto day 2 for some more lead guitar challenges!

Looper Pedal Tutorial!

Would you like to know how to use a looper pedal for your own jams? Here's my tutorial for how to use a looper!

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Next Up: Lead Guitar Lesson 2 - Picking Technique and Song 2

Well done! Let's jump into the next lesson of the course.