Today's lesson is all about your freedom of expression on guitar and empowering you with the skills you need to seamlessly switch between rhythm guitar and lead guitar.
Why is this important, you ask? By the end of this lesson you'll be able to:
- Express yourself more freely on the guitar.
- No longer rely on a backing track or a band. (Be your own backing track)
- Apply this concept to any style you like.
While it's true that transitioning between lead and rhythm guitar can be challenging, the rewards are immeasurable. Once you acquire this skill, you'll be able to jam, play freely, and have fun forever!
Let's kick things off with an easy exercise designed to train your ability to seamlessly switch between lead guitar and rhythm guitar and vice versa.
No need to worry about playing melodically here, we are not improvising; this is all about honing the switch itself.
We'll start by strumming a sequence of chords such as G, D, and C in the key of G major for the rhythm guitar part.
We'll use the G major standard shape, or the E shape, for the lead guitar parts.
Note: You can use any scale you are comfortable with. This exercise isn't limited to major keys; you can adapt it to minor keys by playing lead guitar lines on the appropriate minor scale as well.
Disclaimer: To help you keep time, you may use a metronome or a backing track. (Switch between playing the chords of the track and improvising)
You're going to alternate between playing the chords (Rhythm Guitar), and the scale (Lead Guitar) every cycle.
Think of each cycle as encompassing two measures/bars:
- 2 beats of G
- 2 beats of D
- 4 beats of C
Note: You can choose any progression/chord structure you want.
Start by simply playing up and down the scale for the lead guitar parts. However, once you get comfortable doing that Feel free to experiment and explore within this framework.
Check out min @1:30 for a quick demonstration.
Remember, the aim here is to solidify your ability to transition between rhythm guitar and lead guitar.
Half as chords (Rhythm Guitar) and half as solos (Lead Guitar):
- G chord (Strumming)
- Em chord (Improvise)
- C chord (Strumming)
- D chord (Improvise)
Check out min @3:39 for a quick demonstration.
You're going to play the chords (Rhythm Guitar) only on the first beat of the measure, dedicating the remainder of the measure to improvising over the scale (Lead Guitar).
So 1 beat of rhythm followed by 3 beats of lead guitar playing for every measure!
Check out min @4:25 for a quick demonstration.
Check out min @5:10 for a quick demonstration.
In this example we're playing a 12 bar blues in the key of A, and we decide to switch between lead and rhythm every 2 measures.
Check out min @5:58 for a quick demonstration.
Now let's switch every measure.
Check out min @6:49 for a quick demonstration.
Here we'll play a ii - V - vi in the key of D. (Em7 - A7 - Bm7), and we'll switch to lead guitar on the Bm7 chord.
Check out min @7:43 for a quick demonstration.
For this example we'll take C, D, and Epower chords (C5, D5, E5). We'll switch to the Em scale for the lead parts alternating on each cycle.
Check out min @8:20 for a quick demonstration.
By practicing these techniques, you'll be able to break free from the constraints of relying on a band or backing track while improvising or soloing.
Remember to isolate at first, focusing solely on switching from rhythm guitar to lead guitar on time. Same goes for the other way around: make sure you practice smoothly switching back to rhythm after your lead lines.
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