#1
Hi, I'm a beginner/mediocre guitarist and am decent with rhythm. My main issue right now is that i struggle with leads. I use tab for majority of my songs and spend half the time translating from tab to memory. The rhythm part is easy, but then the solo i have to process a note(fret and string) plus who knows how many abbreviations such as bends and tremolos and so forth. I know this is something just to get used to, but does anyone have any recommendations or tips that might have been in the same boat?
#2
It sounds like you are just trying to learn to cover songs, not learning how to improvise based on an understanding of scales, intervals, etc. I think that may be your problem.

If I tell you to memorize ten numbers, it will be hard. If I tell you to memorize a telephone number, it's easier because your mind can organize the numbers into a known framework (a 3-3-4 pattern). It's still the same amount of data, but having a context for the data actually makes it much easier to memorize.

Or, an even more extreme example: Make up ten nonsense sounds like Duh Fle Mesk Meech Fo Rog Glan Geech Der Hup. Try to memorize those. Compare that to memorizing "The beaver floats down the Mississippi." Chances are that sentence is, like, a million times easier to memorize. Why? Because the words make sense, it creates a simple image. The nonsense syllables have no context and are a bitch to remember.

It is just the same trying to memorize a bunch of lead notes with no larger context of how they relate to key, scale, etc.

So, learn the intervals of the major scale, learn how the different major modes are based on that scale, most importantly the Aeolian Mode (which is the same as relative minor scale). Look at how to play those scales around the fretboard and visualizing them as the seven notes of the scale (e.g., in key of C, see all C's as "1" all D's as "2" all "E's as "3" all F's as 4, etc.) You need to get to see the whole fretboard as a bunch of 1's through 7's in relation to whatever your key is.

Then learn chord formulas. Learn how chords are stacked thirds, difference between major & minor chords, and then learn to "see" the chord shapes as series of these 1's through 7's (i.e., see where you can play a 2, 4 and 6 together which, in the key of C, would be D minor chord).

Now, if you go to learn that lead solo, you may see where a series of notes is an arpeggio of a D minor chord in key of C, and it will make musical sense to you. And, knowing that context, you'll find that it is automatically a lot easier to memorize the notes in the various solos.

This is a big part of why an experienced musician can learn a new song a lot faster, because they see a lot more of the musical context for the notes they are trying to learn. Instead of learning a bunch of random notes to play, they may see, "Oh, I just need to do a series of arpeggios of the supertonic, subdominant, then mediate starting on G string, then repeat those arpeggios starting on the A string, then reverse them."

Or, at least, that's my take on it.

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!
#3
Great explanation. That is the best way I've heard that explained........