#1
I have a bad habit of getting carried away with things like this but here goes nuttin'.

So I've been playing for just about 5 years. Recently I joined my buddy's band after there was a falling out with their last guitarist. As a result I've been inspired to really start writing and coming up with stuff I'm really proud of. I've thrown around riffs here and there and some stuff has been really cool. But as soon as I began to try and throw down a lead or even start up something simple I came to a discouraging conclusion...

I have not a single clue what I'm doing. As a result, I'm very much trapped in the dreaded rut guitarists have at some stage in their musical career. Me trying to play a lead over a track (ex. The track Keith Merrow wrote for the Mayones/Duncan contest) is similar to a 4-year old trying to find the light switch he's too short to reach in a dark room. You've really no idea where to go next, lost, and eventually just wind up hiding in a box somewhere. As a result I end up desperately trying to find the key to whatever I'm playing to, spend a good couple of seconds hitting sour notes trying to find it, actually FINDING it, then hoping messing around in 1st position minor pentatonic will be diverse enough for me....it never is.

I've tried focusing on a single track (the one I mentioned above) by playing it over and over and just playing note for note seeing if I can come up with something I like. Not only do I absolutely hate this method but it doesn't work out for me at all. About 4 hours had past and I had not a single cool lick, or at least anything I liked.

I know there's no real quick fix to this and I don't expect there to be one, but I'd like to know what exactly my options are here, like what I need to do and learn that'll make writing leads as a whole a much simpler process for myself...because I'm at a loss.
#2
Well I would recommend learning the other minor pentatonic positions first.

Try playing in positions other than the one you know, and then link them together over time. It would also help to learn some licks. Pick some songs with licks that you like and just learn them. It'll help to develop your ear and know which notes give that feel that you're looking for.

I too share a similar problem to you though, but that's my starting advice.
#3
If you don't know music theory, I'd start there. It's a huge asset when it comes to writing. Other than that, just spend more time improvising. Don't be afraid of going outside of a scale. Just don't linger on bad notes too long. Use your ears. You'll know what sounds good. Also try adding some pinch harmonics and stuff for emphasis and bends and vibrato for feeling. And don't worry about speed. A lead doesn't have to be fast to be good.
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Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#4
Quote by Junior#1
If you don't know music theory, I'd start there. It's a huge asset when it comes to writing. Other than that, just spend more time improvising. Don't be afraid of going outside of a scale. Just don't linger on bad notes too long. Use your ears. You'll know what sounds good. Also try adding some pinch harmonics and stuff for emphasis and bends and vibrato for feeling. And don't worry about speed. A lead doesn't have to be fast to be good.

Sounds like a plan. Know any good particular videos online that might aid in that? Bending and vibrato are actually a bad habit of mine haha, use it almost too much.
Quote by wildozer
Well I would recommend learning the other minor pentatonic positions first.

Try playing in positions other than the one you know, and then link them together over time. It would also help to learn some licks. Pick some songs with licks that you like and just learn them. It'll help to develop your ear and know which notes give that feel that you're looking for.

I too share a similar problem to you though, but that's my starting advice.

I actually do know them, just don't use 'em like a twit. I'll make that a priority for the time being, incorporating them more that is.

I don't know if I necessarily want to learn other people's licks so much as I'd like to come up with my own, but checking out some that I like couldn't hurt.
#5
Just waiting for Zaphod to post the exact same thing I'm thinking, then I'll move this to Musician Talk

In summary what he's going to say will be something along the lines of:

the problem is nothing to do with knowledge, this isn't a technical issue and positions and scales won't help you fix things. Put your guitar down and stop trying to force music out of it - music doesn't come from your guitar, it comes from the guitarist. You don't need an instrument at all to create music, the guitar is just a way to express it the way you want it to sound.

If you can't listen to a backing track and simply hear something to play in your head then you've got even less chance of doing anything with the guitar. So put the guitar away, listen to a simple backing track and just try to think of a melody to go over it and sing it. You might not think you can't sing but I know you're fibbing as there isn't a single guitarist who hasn't sung along to their favourite solos whilst air-guitaring.

It doesn't have to be complicated or fast, the important thing is to come up with something that sounds good and fits over the chords. Ideally record it, if you've got a smartphone there's plenty of apps you can use. Once you've got something you like, then you can pick up the guitar and try and figure out how to play it. The reason you use your voice is because it's the one instrument you can control absolutely. If you think a sound in your head it comes out of your mouth, it's instantaneous. The guitar is not a part of you, theres a massive disconnect between it and your brain and you're not yet good enough to instinctively know what sounds are going to come out when you do something with it - however you do have that ability with your voice.

This may seem slow and laborious at first but essentially you're starting from zero here. Obviously the dream is to be able to control the guitar as easily as you control your voice, but that only cimes with time and experience, you can't just read a couple of lessons and do it. You may have some skill with the technical aspects of playing the guitar and copying what others have done but you have no experience with creating music, so it's no surprise you're finding it difficult. Music is a language, and just as you couldn't read, write or even speak when you were born you're struggling to express yourself with music because it's the first tme you've ever tried to use the language yourself.
Actually called Mark!

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#6
Apologies for the mis-post, this seemed like the best spot in my eyes.

You make some great points, and seem like you give that answer on a daily basis the way you word it lol...but like I said (or tried to say), I was never expecting to become able to play every little thing that popped in my head. I am however committed to going on the path to getting that kind of skill. In an effort to combine our logic, I need to think outside the box, to get out of my box, and my box is basically me thinking I need to have the guitar to write what I want...which makes a lot of sense.

I definitely have a lot of technical aspects to improve on that's for sure...but that's something that will come later on.
Last edited by Zhiox at Nov 12, 2013,