I have reached a terrible point in my progression as a lead guitarist, and I need solid advice.

I knew I wanted to play lead for a long time, but the techniques weren't there. I decided to work on that, and learned to bend, tap, etc. After getting those down, I knew the next step would be phrasing so, without the trusty pentatonic scale in hand, I learned some licks and started hashing out blues leads. This is all well and good, but in all honestly, once you've played a thousand pentatonic licks, they begin to lose their appeal and start sounding bland. Very bland. Not to mention the fact that I completely threw myself into pentatonic jail, and out of frustration just stopped playing for a few weeks.

Now, don't think I am a quitter. No sir, I will stick it out until I am old and gray and arthritis plagues my hand, but I have to get out of this rut and I need help. I currently cannot get a teacher, as time and transportation will not allow it. Alas, I am completely at the mercy of Tablature and video lessons. I know this crippling, to say the least, but I won't allow it to stop me. I have great potential, for sure, but my toolkit is far to small. I need a place to find extensive collections of phrases, in all modes, that utilize different techniques and give me more sounds to work with.

I know what you're thinking; "Just learn your favorite solos and you'll be on the right path!" NOPE, this is not correct. I could learn different solos, yes, but this does not give me the variety of licks and ideas I need. When I learn a solo straight from a song, I find myself trying to nail it exactly as I hear it: tailored exclusively for the song for which it was written. I could pull a few chops out of it sure, but they don't stick and I'm right back at square one. I need quality phrases, and allot of them, from which to develop my own solos and Ideas, but I cannot find them anywhere. I tried Guitartricks.com, but it's a complete fluke. They scraped together a few lessons, but they have little on phrasing or even licks in general. The ones they do host are (you guessed it) bland, short, rehashed pentatonic runs, encompassing a small portion of the fretboard and giving me nothing to work with. I cannot find what I need anywhere. It almost seems like these companies hold back, and want to prevent you finding this type of collage. Come to think of it, I cannot even find lessons on extended or lateral scales!

This is very very frustrating. Technique is not my problem. Lack of practice is not my problem. I am fluent in both aspects. I have great vibrato, bends, and practice routines. The only problem being, I HAVE NOTHING TO PRACTICE.

Someone, somewhere, in the name of ROBERT JOHNSON HIMSELF, point me in the right direction.
Do you play jazz? Cos if you dont, I suggest you start playing, even if you dont particularly like it. Will improve every single aspect of your playing like OMG.
Why don't you try scale studies? It would have to give those the most credit for
allowing me to train both my ears and fingers as well as mind in terms of material
for all kinds of new improvisation. It will really allow you to see a scale in a lot of
different ways.

I'd recommend Jack Zucker's "Sheets of Sound Vols I & II"

EDIT: One of the strengths of Sheets of Sound is that it specifically focuses on
studies that move up & down the neck.
Last edited by edg at Jan 31, 2009,
Branch out musically. Start listening to jazz, classical, reggae, I don't care. Also, don't limit your playing to just blues, rock, metal, etc. Try taking on some jazz songs or learn a bit of theory and start making your own arrangements.
While all the others are suggesting you learn jazz... I don't think that's necessarily required. Whenever you sit down with your guitar, you have 2 options.

1. Turn your OCD on:
Basically, think something up, and try to make it as technical as you can. Whether it's a shred riff going down the board at every other interval, going down the board 4 notes at a time, rewinding 2, going 4, rewinding 2, and so forth, or anything. Just think of something mathematical/technical. Make sure you learn it well. The great guitarists don't really just come up with highly technical shred riffs at the moment, it's just that they have practiced enough and went through as many ideas they had in mind as possible, that it seems like 2nd nature to them. You do NOT have to use any scale you know. It can be a chromatic for all it matters...

2. Don't look at your fretboard, and use your imagination to describe some scenery:
Be it a graveyard, or a field of flowers, it doesn't matter. Just try to play something with expressive notes that emphasize on the bending/phrasing techniques. Something that isn't necessarily technical. Also, it's best if you describe that place with your ear without any theory. After sometime of consistent usage of patterns and scales (which is part of theory), it WILL get redundant and boring.

Then, after you have something down, you can COMBINE both of them and be able to get something out of it. HERE is where you will insert the theory you know to try and mesh things together so they make sense. If you want to go back and revise the things you wrote, and make them slightly more theoretical to perhaps sound better, then do it.

Bottom line: Don't be held back by the little dots on the side of your fretboard designating which key you're in or what note HAS to come next. It's an art for a reason.
Great advice, to say the least.

Yet I have a writers block of sorts, and need a least some inspiration. A gentle nudge in the right direction, so to speak. That's why I am determined to learned a ton of phrases.
If you're looking for "licks", Wolf Marshall's "101 Essential Blues", "Essential Rock".
"Essential Jazz" licks. Lots of licks and phrases usually in 4 measures or less. All tabbed and played at tempo/slowed down on CD. There ya go.

I'd still recommend "Sheets". You can learn a million licks, but in terms of learning to generate your own, knowing how to pull musical ideas out of scales (and execute them) is right up at the top of the "good to know" skills.
I'll pick the book up tomorrow, and I'm downloading Sheets of Sound as we speak. I take advice seriously. Lol
It's not in the scale, but phrasing.

IT only sounds bland because you make it sound bland.

I will take the word 'yellow';

I used this word probably a 10000 times;

Now if I say.

The cheese is yellow.

That sounds pretty bland right?

But if I say; The Yellow Ibanez RG rocks; It suddenly has a value.

I'm just saying, you need to learn when and where and what to play.

This is called Phrasing.

It take time, I still recommend listen and learning from ur favourite artists. Don't expect to make a "genius" piece of music at once. Now I don't know how long you've played guitar, but if you played like 10+ years, then yes it's a little bit worrying. Just have fun with playing, and it will come.

Also wonder urself, what are ur goals?

The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
(most intelligent)
The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

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Who's Andy Timmons??
Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Jan 31, 2009,
The key to phrasing is speech. Think about how pitch alters the meaning of what you say. Like if you go up at the end of a sentence? As if you're asking a question? Think about that, and rather than play notes around a pattern, try to say something with your guitar.