Many aspiring guitarists were motivated to their pursue their new art by the influence of a lead guitarist. Once the beginner becomes familiar with playing rhythm, it is a natural progression to want to branch out. After all, music is unique to every musician. Playing lead guitar solo is the musician’s chance to express the music the unique way they hear and feel it. Lead guitarists who do it their way are the most effective guitarists.
To play a great lead guitar solo, the guitarist must be in unison with the guitar and the music. If you are used to playing rhythm, this will be a change but eventually it will click in and when it does, you will play those great lead guitar solos.
For the most part, learning to play lead guitar is about learning and becoming extremely familiar with the three pentatonic scales. Pentatonic scales are like major and minor scales except that they omit some notes of each scale. The result of these omitted notes is a very open sound.
Every lead guitarist develops an understanding of the major pentatonic, the minor pentatonic and the blues pentatonic scales. Most lead guitarists begin by extensively practicing the pentatonic blues scale. The most common way to learn the Blues scale is to play it forward and backwards and once familiar with the individual notes play each note twice before moving to another.
Gradually, guitarists learn to experiment and improvise. However, most lead guitar solos are based on the Blues scale. Once the guitarist is familiar with the pentatonic scales, it is only necessary to know the right key for the song. Pentatonic scales are easy to solo because most notes sound fine no matter where they are played.
Lead guitarists do not solo randomly. They play within a range of a learned template of the pentatonic scales. Lead guitarists develop such expertise at these scales that it seems like they are playing randomly but when you listen closely you may be able to identify the notes. Guitarists are often surprised when a dynamic lead solo can be played with just a few simple scales.
Study the technique of your favorite lead guitarists and emulate their style. Have fun and enjoy the learning experience. Once your develop your distinct soloing habits, you are on the way.