How to Play Exotic Guitar Licks

About: Get free guitar video tips by checking out

Tired of playing the same guitar licks over and over using the pentatonic and blues scales? To become a more creative lead guitarist, you must learn how to play with tons of expression – this can sound especially cool when used together with exotic guitar licks. Here is what you need to have to do this:

1. One or more exotic scale patterns or arpeggios to play

2. Great command over lead guitar phrasing (knowing HOW to play the notes of any pattern or lick)

Using these two basic elements, you can play great guitar licks whenever you want.

Step 1: Exotic Guitar Lick Tabs

Step 2: Use the Tabs in the Previous Step Together With These Phrasing Techniques

1. Using Guitar Phrases That Have A “Singing” Quality: Nearly all of the best guitar solos contain a main melody, with ornaments that bring it out to help the listener hear an easily recognizable pattern. You can do this easily by using a similar approach to how singers create great melodies: By letting specific pitches ring out longer than others (having them be the main body of the lick or idea) and filling in the space between these notes with faster fills. Check out this video on how to write creative guitar solos to learn more.

2. Using Bends The Begin On A Note Outside Of The Scale: Instead of beginning every one of your bends on a pitch of the scale (and leading it to the next scale degree above), begin your bend on a non-scale note in between these notes. This produces a highly exotic sound.

Here are two ways to do this:

*In the first example lick above, bend up from the seventeenth fret on the E string to reach the eighteenth fret. Hear It

*Additionally (using this same lick), fret the seventeenth fret, but pre-bending the note to where it matches with the pitch of the eighteenth fret (bend the string BEFORE you strike it). After you pick the string, release the bend down until it is just barely above the pitch of the seventeenth fret. Just before the string matches the pitch of the seventeenth fret, immediately play the sixteenth fret. Hear It

My Advice: When you slowly release the bend, it generates more tension (this sounds totally badass – check out the video above again to see exactly how I do this). Also, this guitar phrasing style is very reminiscent of the sound of a singer's voice. Watch this creative guitar soloing video to see how you can use this approach in your guitar playing right now.

Important: This particular approach to guitar phrasing is a great example of using “contained dissonance” – a concept I show to every one of my students who sign up for metal guitar lessons with me. By understanding how to generate tension in your lead guitar soloing (in an intentional manner such as this), you can play highly emotional licks anytime you want. This will set you apart from the overwhelming majority of guitarists who simply play a note and hope for the best (rather than knowing how it will sound ahead of time).

3. Implementing Vibrato In A Creative Manner: Using awesome vibrato technique is the cornerstone to playing incredible lead guitar licks and solos. Apply these creative phrasing methods together with the guitar licks in the tablature at the start of this article (or any other licks you may create):

*Play with different vibrato styles within the same lick. For instance, in a single lick try to think of ways you can use the following types of vibrato: thin (less than a 1/2 step), heavy (1/2 step) or very heavy (1 whole step).

*Apply vibrato in two ways: as soon as you play a note and moments after a note has been played (meaning you let the note ring out momentarily before applying vibrato to it). When you delay your vibrato, it creates tons of anticipation for whoever is listening to you play. As a result, once you decide to finally apply the vibrato, it makes the note and lick as a whole feel intense and very expressive. Find out more on the topic of using vibrato creatively by reading this article on playing guitar solos.

4. Using Slides To Build Intensity: When it comes to slide technique - you can do so much more than merely slide from one note to the next! There are countless ideas you can come up with in your guitar licks by playing slides in uncommon ways. Learn how to do this by reading this column on how to play creative guitar licks.

5. Integrating Many Guitar Phrasing Approaches At Once: To really make your lead guitar playing sound awesome, you need to creatively combine several phrasing techniques together throughout every lick.



    • Faux-Real Contest

      Faux-Real Contest
    • Organization Contest

      Organization Contest
    • Remix Contest

      Remix Contest