Learn Lead Guitar Completable




Introduction: Learn Lead Guitar Completable

*this is a completable so it isn't finished, i will edit it when i can, so come back*

This instructable will teach you some basic lead guitar skills and techniques to use when starting out lead guitar or merely getting a kickstart from a low level playing.

First of all i would like to point out that i am no expert at guitar.

Second i play lead guitar and i don't know a lot about chords and other techniques used in rhythm

Step 1: Buying Your First Guitar.

Remember, looks can be deciving. The first guitar i bought was from ebay and it looked awsome! it cost me £100 got a free amp and strap i thought it was a great deal, i now know it was the worst guitar i have ever played.

My first mistake was buying from ebay, im not discouraging buying from ebay, all i could reccomend is you try out the guitar you want from a guitar/music shop first when your happy with it then by all means buy it from ebay, however if you cant find the make of guitar in your local music shop then this is a sure sign that it isnt good.

My second mistake was not researching guitars,

Here are some things to look out for when buying a new guitar (assuming you can play and inspect the guitar you want). The best thing to do if you are not sure about a guitar is to bring a friend along who has been playing for a year or two and has had some experience with buying and maintaining a guitar.

First of all, you want to inspect the body. If it is a used guitar, are there any major dents or scratches? Are the electronics in working order? Is anything loose or rattling? If it's a new or used guitar, ask someone from the shop to "set it up"- check the intonation and fretboard, etc. They'll probably know what you mean :). If you're completely clueless ;-0, ask if they know any good beginner guitars. Their job is to make you want to come back to their store again, so you'll most likely get some good tips.

Secondly, the fretboard. Are the frets to large or small? Does the guitar feel comfortable in your hands? If you know how to fret a note, check both the low and high notes on both sides of the fretboard for any buzzing (assuming you're fretting the note right), especially the last four frets on each string and frets 7-12. Run your hand along the fretboard to make sure it isn't sticky, scratched, or dented. Make sure that the frets are all straight and none of them run off the edge of the fretboard.

Finally, play something on the guitar. Don't worry about whether what you're playing is "cool" enough to play, or worry about making mistakes. Play through the same type of amp you plan on getting, and try different settings and tones to see what you like. If it's comfortable in your hands and has a good sound, that guitar might be the best for you. There may be other players at the store you're at who are playing fast and looking cool, but don't be intimidated! Your job here is to waltz in, find a good guitar, and waltz out. Also, this only applies to certain people, but don't feel intimidated about asking a sales rep if you can try out three, four, or even ten guitars. You're doing them a service by buying one of their products, and as long as your intent is to buy a guitar, they'll be happy. Be careful with the expensive guitars though :)

Remember a couple of things- If the guitar comes with a crapload of stuff (amp, case, statue of Jimmy Page), you may want to look a bit closer at the guitar itself. It would really help if you knew a couple of songs and could play them moderately well.

Step 2: Learn the Parts...

Ok this step is vital in starting guitar because it gets you familiar with the guitar and how it works, if you already know all this, still read it it will jog your memory and get yourself familiar with it once again.

All the time, guitarists use these terms when generally talking about guitar so its vital you know the names of the parts. Also i will reffer to them as the proper names throughout the instructable.

Read the notes so you know what i'm reffering to, im going from top downwards.

Headstock- The headstock of a guitar has the logo of the company that makes the guitar and holds the tuning pegs and strings in place, the 2 types of headstocks have either 6 machine heads on one side, or 3 on each side, although generally thats on a classical and spanish guitar.

Machine heads or tuning pegs - These are used to tighten or loosen the strings, altering the pitch this process is called tuning; you tune the guitar every time you play to get the perfect sound from your guitar.

Tremelo locking system - The 3 dots that you see are part of the locking tremelo system, this keeps the guitar in tune when using the whammy bar this is very useful when playing songs with vigurous whammy bar action. Underneath the locking tremelo is a nut this spaces the strings apart keeping them from touching when played.

Guitar neck and fretboard - This contains the frets, they are the thin metal strips that separate the wooden neck however guitarist generally refer to the fret as the wood in between the metal. they each have a number that starts at the top and goes up in numerical order (1, 2, 3, 4, 5...) most full size guitars have 24 frets.

Strap peg - This, along with the other at the bottom, holds the strap in place which goes around you shoulders and neck to make the guitar rest on your body while you play.

Single coil pickup and humbucker - Single coil pickup is a pickup that uses only one coil, seeing as though my explanation would get confusing i am going to use a direct quote from wikipedia.

"A pickup device acts as a transducer that captures mechanical vibrations (usually from suitably equipped stringed instruments such as the electric guitar, electric bass guitar or electric violin) and converts them to an electrical signal which can be amplified and recorded."

A humbucker is a guitar pickup that uses 2 coils instead of one and works the same way that a single coil does with a different advantage, you select between the 3 pickups depending on where you are playing on the fretboard.

Whammy bar - The whammy bar is sometimes called a tremelo arm although it is usually called whammy bar, it slackens and tightens the strings when moved up and down, this alters the pitch of the note produced temporelary you can get different effects like a high pitched "squeal" or a very low divebomb. The reason you are able to do this without the strings going out of tune is to do with the locking tremelo.

Locking tremelo bridge - This locks the strings at the bottom of the guitar securing it for whammy bar use however it is also used to space the strings apart and used in sync with the nut to stop the strings touching when playing. Another use of the bridge is to alter the action, this is how high the strings are raised from the fretboard you can alter this, resulting in the strings being easyer to press down however if you go to far then you will get a buzzing from the strings hitting the frets when vibrating.

Electronics - The elecronics generally alter the tone, the pickups that are used and the volume, also there is a hole to put the lead that plugs to your amp.

Body - This is what all the componants sit on there are many variatons, from the classic strat shape (this one) to the "v" shape (in the intro picture) they are all played in different positions and vary in colour, thicknes, size and shape.

ok that's all i hope i didnt miss anything and by now you should be confused and know a little more about the guitar.

your ready to move on, i suggest u go take a brake from all that reading.

Step 3: Naming the Strings

Ok the strings each have a letter for a name and they are as follows

E - the thickest string is the 6th string
A - is the 5th
D - is the 4th
G - is the 3rd
B - is the 2nd
e - the thinest string is the 1st

you need to remember this for reading tablature and the strings wil be reffered to as these letters for the rest of the instructable.

Step 4: Tuning the Guitar

This is a vital part of preparation, make sure you tune your guitar every time you play (which should be every day)

Now the easiest way to tune your guitar is to buy an electric tuner, these are fast accurate and easy just follow the manufacturers instructions. You can either buy a normal one or a strobe tuners. Strobe tuners are more expensive, but they are also more accurate than normal electric tuners.

If you don't have an electric tuner then don't worry! you can still tune your guitar however this will be hard for a beginner but you can only get better.

Now first of all you should have the E string in tune. Do this by using a tuning fork or even an online note generator, just match the noise that it makes.

Once you have a fairly accurate E string then you can move on

the first thing you do is press down on the 5th fret on the E string of your guitar to locate this start at the very top of the fret board and count down 5 spaces then stop, try to press down near the metal strip but not directly on the metal strip and when you have a solid sound play the A string (next one down) open (nothing pressed down) they should sound the same, if they dont then the A string is out of tune, turn the machine head until you have the same sound coming from the 5th fret of the E string and the open fret of the A string, once they do you have just tuned your second string by ear, congrats. This helps train your ear, but it should be pretty good in the first place before you want it to work out accurately.

follow the same method moving down a string each time until the strings are all in tune, the frets for all 6 strings are:

E - 5th fret A - open
A - 5th fret D - open
D - 5th fret G - open
G - 4th fret B - open
B - 5th fret e - open

Another method of tuning your guitar is to use a pitch pipe, simply blow on the appropriate hole and match the sound.

This is a video of me tuning my guitar. I started at the high e string, then worked my way down by ear. You should only do this if you know your e string's in pretty good tune, and you can check at the end by playing both the last and first e string to make sure they're the same. Otherwise, USE AN ELECTRIC TUNER, because it might end up dissonant if you don't have a good ear. If you play lightly, press lightly when tuning (vice versa if you press down really hard when playing). I detuned my guitar before I did this, by the way :P

Step 5: Reading Tablature (tabs)

Ok hopefully i will teach you how to read tabs, it may seem hard at first but its very easy once you have learnt it and its a lot easyer than sheet music.

Tabs are the easiest and fastest way that guitarists teach each other things, its simple to write and easy to read.

-Whats a tab?

Basically, a tab is 6 dash-lines that are in rows, they represent the 6 strings of a guitar, here is a very basic tab:

(Basic way of checking if your guitar is in tune by ear)

The 0 stands for open string, so if you play this it would be just all the strings played open starting from the E string and working your way down.

If you dont understand then comment because it hard for me to explain.

(smoke on the water, note version)


if you look at this tab, it has numbers on it these numbers are the number of fret to play, to find them, simply count down the spaces starting from one until you get the the number the tab says. Play this tab a little, get the feel for reading it


If there is one dash in between a note, it means play it directly after the note before, the more spaces the longer you have to wait until you play the next note.


chords in tabs aren't hard because there isnt a space between each note, this means you play all of the strings at once, holding in the notes to let them ring, or changing chords

(E chord)

-Power chords

Power chords are easy its basically the same as a normal chord.


-Letters & Symbols

in tabs you may encounter letters like "s" or "b" and not know what it means, i will explain this in the step

S = Slide, to do this slide down the fret board with the note still held down until you get to the fret it says is it has a (7) next to it or any other number, means you bend it to the same pitch as the fret.


B = Bend, this is where you literally bend the string up the fretboard to make the note produced higher


H - hammer on, you use your finger to press the fret that is said hard so it produces 2 consecutive notes with only one pluck of the string.


P - pull of, you do the same as a hammer on only let go of the fretith another fret held down above the current fret.


~ - This is a vibrato, you bend the string up slighty
then release again then bend down slightly if you do this fast and reapeatedly you have a vibrato, the more ~'s the longer you hold the vibrato for.


pm - Palm mute, you simply mute the strings with your palm of your playing hand


Step 6: Fretting Notes

This will explain how to fret a note on the guitar, and give some tips.

Fretting notes can be difficult, confusing and even painful. To start you need to press down on the fret, the common mistakes usually are that the players tend to press down to hard therefore becoming too stiff, the note is fretted too high above the metal or the players playing too soflty, i will list some tips to make sure you are playing efficiantly, and clearly.

-Make sure your finger is pressing the fret comfortably, not too much pressure but not too little.

-Always keep your fingers close to the metal, doing so will avoid fret buzz and also reduce pressure needed.

-Make sure that as soon as your fingers start to hurt you take note and dont play for too long after, if there is pain, dont worry, your finger pads will harden and become used to it.

-Lower your action (i will describe in another step.

Finger per fret

When playing something you have a root note which is played with your index finger, after that you always use the other 3 fingers that are free:

(r) (4) (2)

(r)= root note, also index finger
(2)= middle finger
(4)= Pinky

This is a example of finger per fret, use this always to play efficiently and faster.

(r) (4) (2) (4) (4)

Another example.

Step 7: Warmups

Always warmup before playing, it stops injuries in your fingers and gets your muscles ready for playing, another advantage is is you do them every day you strengthen your finger muscles. Don't try to play fast until you've got the notes down, and try to keep your fingers moving.

Warmup 1, 2 and 3

play this around 15 times using your index and middle fingers, then your middle and ring finger, then ring and pinky, the last one play 20 times.


Warmup 4.


Do this once then repeat it but go the opposite way keep doing that around 15 times (these are somewhat like chromatic scales, which is every note in a scale played in sets of five (one note on the open string) and then skipping to the next string).

Warmup 5.


do this once then repeat but the oposite way, around fifteen times.

you should be ready to play, nice and warmed up.

Step 8: Learning Your First Song.

Now, you have to pick a good song that you think will impress people, sounds cool, but still in your ability so go listen to a few but remember you have to consciously listen to the guitar on the song to tell if you want to play it, the first song i learned was enter sandman by Metallica (of course minus the solo), took me a few days to actually remember it but once i had remembered it i was set, all i did was play that and warmups until i was comfortable.

Its important you find a good tab, i'd recommend http://www.ultimate-guitar.com for tabs, search the song you want, look at the comments and star ratings before attempting it.

If you want a challenge, try to figure out as much as you can by ear first before looking at tabs. It's hard, but you'll get better and better at it as your ear improves.

Look at the "Songs to try out" section of this instructable for some good songs to start with.

Step 9: Practicing

There are many different ways to practice, and LOTS of things to learn. Just remember- keep on playing as often as you can. Playing half an hour every day is better than playing four hours every four days, ESPECIALLY if you're just beginning to play guitar. The best way to practice is to make a practice schedule, and follow it religiously. It may also be helpful to set goals for yourself (e.g., learn a certain solo by the end of the week, practice arpeggios for an extra half hour, etc.) in order to make progress. Don't get discouraged! As long as you're practicing often and having fun, you're most likely getting better.

This is a basic outline of what a good hour long practice schedule should look like. If you don't have that much time, try practicing in one area one day and in another the next, or parts of each to make it faster. Don't rush, though.

Warmups- There were some examples of these in this instructable. What you want to do here is literally warm up the muscles in your hand. Don't play fast or do anything complicated, just relax and run through chromatics and picking exercises (see warm-ups). You should do these for about 5 minutes, depending on how relaxed your fingers feel afterwards and how long you think you need it.

Scales- If you don't know any scales, learn some! Look at the scales section of this instructable. Running through all the scale patterns can take anywhere from 10- 45 minutes depending on how fast you're playing. PLAY SLOWLY AT FIRST. It is VERY important you hear yourself clearly, especially when correcting your mistakes!

Arpeggios- These are covered in another section, and should take about 10- 25 minutes for the C, A and E forms (which is all you really need to work on).

Work on songs- Pick a song you like and look at the tabs for it. Listening to the song itself multiple times is a great way to get hard sections down, especially if it has a hard cadence or timing. If you have trouble playing it, make sure you CAN play it first. This is important because working on an extremely hard song will leave you frustrated, and you won't enjoy guitar as much. Songs are important because they are usually your motivation, and it's a way to have fun while playing guitar. Spending anywhere from 15-30 minutes on this is good.

Work on a new technique- This could be harmonics, alternate picking, etc. Remember though, some techniques are based off of others, and the basics (alternate picking, bends, slides, etc.) should be learned first. Advanced techniques are also included in the What's Next... section. This should take around 10 minutes.

Improvise (basically noodling in the same key- try to be creative)!- Improvising is pretty important for lead guitar, but you have to know scales and arpeggios well first. *to be continued*

When the inevatable happens, it gets boring then simply carry on! if it gets unbearibly boring then obviously there isnt enough variety in your playing, remember of all the tecniques to practice, they are all only meant to be practiced for short periods of time, not an hour or two.

Step 10: Alternate Picking


Step 11: A Finger Workout.

This'll show exercises to warm up, loosen, and give an overall strengthening. workout exercise for your (what else?) fingers.

Step 12: Scales


Step 13: Harmonics


Step 14: Tapping


Step 15: Arpeggios

This section will explain what arpeggios are and different types of arpeggios.

Step 16: Sweeping


Step 17: Taking Care of Your Guitar.


Step 18: Keeping Up Your Level of Playing.


Step 19: Taking It Further - What Next?


Step 20: Some Songs to Try Out.


Step 21: Thank You.

Thanks for reading my instructable, any requests for teqniques i will gladly add them, anynone wanting to colaborate just ask.

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    7 years ago

    not much info past the "how to shop" intro (which is kinda full of sh!t).

    1. a friend who has been at it for a year or two is gonna THINK he knows his stuff... grab a slacker uncle instead.

    2. unless you've got 500-700 for the axe alone, do NOT go for recognizable brands...go for something that says "Made in Japan". old Japanese gear is your friend. also, if it's intact after 30-40 years, it'll keep rocking long after you're gone (something that can't be said for ANY new instrument for <700-1200)...also, Japan only had several big contract manufacturers, so almost all MiJ instruments come from the same 4 or so production lines. thus, brand on headstock does NOT matter, it's the "Made in Japan" on the back or neckplate that does.

    3. craigslist craigslist craigslist - just don't believe a word anyone says. verify claimed pickup upgrades, NEVER believe an "American strategy w/ a Squier neck replacement" story, etc. and try to Google an old catalog or something for old Japanese axes.

    4. if you DO have 500-700, it's stupidly simple: used ESP (real full ESP made in Japan - NOT ltd models!)...don't play metal? don't matter, just get one without EMG pickups. The guitarist for the Rolling Stones plays an ESP telecaster after all... and the best classic strat you'll ever see outside the armoured glass cases in any store is hands down the ESP Vintage Plus model.

    5. if looking for a new guitar only (bad idea but whatever), bring at least 1200-1500, and head over to the PRS wall. ignore fender and Gibson. ibanez can be good, but new good ones are ONLY "prestige series" and cost 1200-2000+., and are NOT good deals new (old Japanese ibanezes are pretty solid, except for rather boring pickups just begging for an upgrade). new non-custom shop ESPs are now called E-II, but those cost $2k+...and oldies for 500-700 are probably better anyways


    9 years ago on Step 2

    Can I have a comment about the pickups...
    Specifically the humbucker part.
    The main advantage of the humbuckers over single coil pickups is that it can cancel the "hum" that the single coil produces when placed on a loud amplifier (let us say a Telecaster set on the bridge pickup, a single coil, and the amplifier's volume set to the loudest volume, 10 at least, the pickup produced a "hum" sound). The build on the humbuckers are basically two single coils stacked together in opposite polarity to cancel the hum. The three pickup selection on the humbuckers are just entirely on the build on the guitar, and can go on with single coil pickups and basically depends o the manufacturer or the user's preference (Fender Stratocaster has three single coil pickups that can switch in 5 different positions, you'll get the point).
    Hope you read this out :)
    Nice instruction btw ;)
    Source: one year experience plus extensive research


    11 years ago on Step 3

    Great strings! I used them constantly for years, until I started playing in lower tunings more- Now, most of the time I use Ernie Ball Power Slinkies! :)
    Just a little addition here- To remember the names of the strings, you can think "Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie!" :)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Good strings, but I have an update... I started using Dunlop strings, at first because they were a dollar cheaper per pack, but found they sound better- sound better for longer, and last longer than other strings I've used before. They also make a "heavy core" series for downtuning, which work great!
    Now, I noticed that Zakk Wylde has a signature set of them as well. Check them out! :)


    11 years ago on Step 3



    11 years ago on Step 2

    not all guitars have a tremelo locking system at the base of the neck. the only guitars I have seen with them are ibanez


    11 years ago on Step 20

    Seek And Destroy(Metallica) is a commonly known song to a lot of guitarists including myself


    13 years ago on Step 2

    still have it wrong, the only thing the tremolo is , is the bridge/whammy bar, your locking nut has nothing to do with it at all, please learn the guitar better, before looking like a pro on a website


    Reply 11 years ago on Step 2

    If you want to nit-pick, you have it wrong... the assembly mounted on guitars is a vibrato system, as opposed to a tremolo system, which is a circuit built into amplifiers to change the VOLUME of the signal, as opposed to the PITCH... common mistake, and one that is commonplace-
    But, I don't like to nit-pick.
    In a double locking vibrato (or Whammy bar) system, the locking nut is an important part of the setup- very important, since without that, a Floyd Rose (or most other systems of that type) won't stay in tune. On a traditional system with no locking nut, that's obviously a part that's left out, but those systems don't stay in tune very well, and they never have- just listen to some old Jimi Hendrix live recordings! lol!
    The only correction I would make so far- and this is not to be mean spirited at all... I think you're doing fine, and we could ALL use more practice and more tips- is that most guitars don't have 24 frets- that's an option they put on some guitars, and it's getting more common, but a good amount of guitars still have 22 or even 21 frets, depending on the model and type. Also, I've never - and I've never heard any of my friends who played guitar or bass- in 25 years of playing in bands, gigging, etc, call the wood between the frets a "fret." Everyone I've ever known has always put the right name on the little metal piece that marks the location of notes by it's proper name.
    Keep rocking!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    yeah if you liv in colorado around enver brighton boulder westminister, skip that rip off guitar center and hit universal music. i got my guitar there for about $300 and its one of the greatest guitars ever. no one i have so far met has seen anything at all like it eexcept the people that work there. their business plan is repeat, not like most other paces which try to get money once and then never see you again. i prefer to buy there beause of the deals and steals but dont ask me, go check them out 200 East 104th Avenue Thornton, CO 80233 and http://universalmusicco.com/


    12 years ago on Step 4

    i still like electric tuners...


    12 years ago on Step 3

    this is what i use. they are pretty sick strings


    12 years ago on Step 2

    sick guitar dude! and assassin, he obviously doesnt have them so he doesnt need to know much about them. i think some people need to chill out on this website. just let the kid live happily!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I found my first when we were cleaning the house and it was hidden behind alot of junk the guitar is still junk but when i went looking for a pick, strap and an amp the guy from the store told me I chose a bad Amp and told me about a better one he had for only 10 bucks extra so i bought the amp for 45 bucks and there was a guitar that came with it for 75 bucks extra and with the guitar came a lesson dvd strap some picks and a cable i then started looking around on the internet for some tabs and explanations about tabs, but now i take lessons and i think lessons work better because someone teaches you a good way to play and helps you when you get stuck


    13 years ago on Step 1

    "Remember, looks can be deciving. The first guitar i bought was from ebay and it looked awsome! it cost me ���£100 got a free amp and strap i thought it was a great deal, i now know it was the worst guitar i have ever played"
    haha i made the same mistake for my first bass :)


    13 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, this is great advice. If you are new to guitar playing and find theory a tad boring, just watch your favourite music vids and mimic your heroes. Never had lessons Iv never read a book on guitar playing, I don’t know the name of a single chord but i can play ok. Have a listen http://www.northgatestudios.co.uk/danny.mp3 and if you want some advice on advancing your pracical skills you can contact me through my website guitar body.


    13 years ago on Introduction

    dude what you have labeled as a power chord is what most of society call a power chord, but if your going to teach something to somebody you should teach 'em the correct way. Thats actually a fith chord, a power chord is achieved by playing the fifth(what you have) and the octave so it would look like this...

    The Jamalam
    The Jamalam

    13 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, can I collaborate? I am grade 5 standard (I havent done the exam yet) and listen to a lot of music. I'm also grade 4 piano and grade 3 recorder, all with high passes (merits and mostly distinctions), so I am quite musical. I know my way around. So can I?


    13 years ago on Step 5

    ur tab is upside down, the low e string is on the bottom not top, unless u play left handed