Some of the greatest guitar compositions have made it to the hall of fame thanks to their lead guitarists. Lead guitar refers to a the use of a guitar to perform melody lines, instrumental fill passages, and guitar solos within a song structure. Guitarists like Van Halen, Steve Vai, David Gilmour, John Petrucci, Dave Mustaine, Tom Morello, Kirk Hammett, Jimmy Page, Dave Murray, Joe Satriani, Steve Morse and many more have popularized the art of playing the lead guitar. Mastering the lead guitar takes time and effort. To master it you will need to use different and advanced scales, arpeggios, modes, riffs and licks.
If you are thinking of becoming a lead guitarist then you will have to master various techniques of playing solo starting with hammer ons, pull offs and tapping. Hammer Ons Hammer-ons are normally played with pull-offs and are also known as slurs. A hammer on if used on a lead guitar can create a smooth sound between different notes and is considered to be a great way of rendering a solo performance. It can be seen as playing multiple notes in one strike.
Something like playing multiple notes on a saxophone in one breath. It is the slur effect that makes the hammer a must for playing lead guitar. Just as the name sounds, a hammer-on means striking an open string.
Hammer on is extremely useful for strumming patterns in which you would be required to hold on to a particular chord for a few seconds. You can play more than hammer-on at once. Try picking a note at the 5th fret, top E string, hammering on with your second finger to the 6th fret, and then hammering on to the 7th fret with your third finger. You should be able to hear all three notes clearly, even though only the first one is picked.
The basic hammer-on technique should be fairly easy, although it takes time to develop the good coordination between left and right hand that is needed for faster hammer-on effects. Pull-Off For lead guitar playing, to accentuate the rhythm, you use a hammer on first and then play it backward, which is a pull off. This almost the opposite of a hammer-on. Start with your first finger at the 5th fret on the top string, and your third finger at the 7th fret on the same string. Pluck the string to hear the note at the 7th fret, then pull your third finger away from the string in a sideways motion. Keep some downwards pressure on the neck with this finger so that when the finger leaves the string it performs a kind of pluck of its own, and you hear the note at the 5th fret.
As with the hammer-on, you hear two or more notes for every one that is picked. The sound that you get will be similar to a slurring effect and is a pull off. Tapping Tapping is a popular lead guitar technique that has been used by many great guitarists. Associated mainly with an electric guitar, you can use the tapping technique on almost all kinds of string instruments.
There are two types of tapping technique: The one-handed tapping also known as ordinary tapping, and the two-handed tapping. Some of the lead guitar experts consider it to be an extended technique. The technique will require you to tap the strings of your lead guitar using the use the fingers of one hand and this will sound like legato notes. But remember successful tapping requires the use of both the hands.
Van Halen used the tap-pull-hammer method in his highly successful number called "Eruption" to create a long cascade consisting of several tapped notes.
E Walker is the founder of Planet of Rock Music Studios and contributes regularly to many guitar publications. Find out how Guitar Backing Tracks will improve your guitar playing skills. Jam anytime anywhere with Professional Guitar Jam Tracks