Introduction To Lead Guitar. Part 2

This second part includes some of the most famous guitar riffs with the instructions on how to play them.

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Table of Contents:

1. Great lead guitarists 2. Great rhythm guitarists 3. Homework assignment 4. Songs to try 5. Warm up exercises for beginners

Great Lead Guitarists

Because of the glamor they can often carry, lead guitarists can be an inspirational bunch. Below are some clips from legendary lead guitarists in some of their most memorably work. Note how the best lead guitar work is also fueled by a strong sense of rhythm and timing; ultimately, being a successful guitarist will requires cultivating skill on with your lead hand on the fretboard and with your rhythm hand over the sound hole. Below are three examples of exceptional lead guitar work by some of music's finest guitarists. Listen to the clips below to help gain a feel for how lead guitar can play its part in music.
  • Purple Haze. Arguably the most revolutionary guitar player to receive critical acclaim, Jimi Hendrix's incendiary style of guitar playing changed rock music permanently. Check out the video below of the classic Jimi Hendrix song "Purple Haze" for a sample of some of his lead guitar and solo riffs.
  • Stairway To Heaven. Jimmy Page, the guiding force behind the legendary hard rock band Led Zeppelin, penned a remarkable solo for the song "Stairway to Heaven" off the band's fourth album. Note how towards the end of the song the lead guitar works in tandem with Robert Plant's screeching vocals to drastically re-energize the song till its completion.
  • The Thrill Is Gone. Blues great B.B. King illustrates the power of blues music for soloing purposes. King's mastery of the blues, particularly from a lead guitar perspective, has influenced countless guitar greats in various genres. Check out the video below of him playing his song "The Thrill is Gone" with another guitarist known for his lead guitar capabilities, Eric Clapton.

    Great Rhythm Guitarists

    As noted earlier, rhythm guitarists provide the backbone of a song's structure. While often overshadowed by their more flamboyant and theatrical counterparts who play lead guitar, the rhythm guitarist is indispensable in the process of creating a great song. Below are some song clips of the most memorable work from the most critically acclaimed rhythm guitarists of our time.
  • Angeles. Prior to his tragic death, Elliott Smith had established himself as an immensely talented musician with an uncanny sense of rhythm: he played virtually all instruments on a number of his albums, and utilized rhythms that were instantly infectious. The video clip below from a live performance of his song "Angeles" is only of many examples of Smith's rhythmic brilliance.
  • Satellite. The Dave Matthews Band as a whole is a remarkably rhythmic bunch; the band has managed to merge country, folk, blues, and rock stylings into a single coherent groove. Dave Matthews himself blazes the way on the song "Satellite." Check out the video clip below of a live performance of "Satellite" by Dave Matthews Band in 1995.
  • Johnny B. Goode. Regarded as the "Father of Rock n' Roll," Chuck Berry's unique rhythm was a revolutionary departure from traditional blues music at the time. Berry had taken blues music and given it an entirely new feel. "Johnny B. Goode" is one example of this concept in action. Check out an amazing video of the song below, in which Chuck Berry plays "Johnny B. Goode" with John Lennon.

    Homework Assignment

    To help cultivate both your fretboard and rhythm skills, try playing the riffs below. Riff #1 [sound clip]
    E|--0-2-4-0-0-2-4-0---------------------------|
    B|------------------4-2-0-2-4-0----4-2-0-2-0--|
    G|--------------------------------------------|
    D|--------------------------------------------|
    A|--------------------------------------------|
    E|--------------------------------------------|
    Riff #2 [sound clip]
    E|--------------------------------------|
    B|--------------------------------------|
    G|------4--------4-------4--------------|
    D|----4---4----4---4---4---4----2----4--|
    A|--2--------2-------2------------------|
    E|--------------------------------------|
    Riff #3 [sound clip]
    E|-------------------------------|
    B|-------------------------------|
    G|--0--0-0-----------------------|
    D|---------2--2-2--------0--0-0--|
    A|----------------3--3-3---------|
    E|-------------------------------|

    4. Songs To Try

  • When I Come Around [video clip] A classic punk rock song by Green Day, the quintessential punk rock band. In the tablature below, you'll see notes marked as "x". This is simply an indication to play the string muted. Playing the string muted simply involves resting your fingers on the guitar string as opposed to actively pushing it down on the fretboard. When muting the string, the result is a sound that that is percussive and atonal as opposed to a musical note. Below is an audio clip that demonstrates the sound of a muted string. Below is the tablature for the Green Day song "When I Come Around." If you're finding the tablature too difficult to play initially, try playing just the notes marked on the sixth string. As your fingers strengthen and your technique develops, you'll be able to move on to play the full chords easily. Be sure to check out the video as well -- it offers a thorough explanation of how to play the song.
    E|------------------------------------------|
    B|------------------------------------------|
    G|------------------------------------------|
    D|--4-4-4-xx-11-11-11-xx-13-13--9---9-9-xx--|
    A|--4-4-4-xx-11-11-11-xx-13-13--9---9-9-xx--|
    E|--2-2-2-xx-9--9--9--xx-11-11--7---7-7-xx--|
  • Seven Nation Army [sound clip, video clip] First bursting on to the scene in the mid-90s, the White Stripes have established themselves as a modern rock band with a sound highly reminiscent of classic rock groups. The song "Seven Nation Army" is prime example as to why this is. Below is a partial tablature and corresponding audio excerpt from the song. Be sure to have your speakers turn on, and please allow a few seconds for the video to load.
    E|------------------------|
    B|------------------------|
    G|------------------------|
    D|------------------------|
    A|------------------------|
    E|--7----7-10-7-5-3----2--|
  • Iron Man [sound clip, video clip] Before launching his solo career, Ozzy Osbourne fronted the British hard rock band Black Sabbath in the early '70s. "Iron Man" is perhaps the band's most prominent song. The slashes ("/") represent slides -- an advanced technique in which the guitarist slides his finger from first fret noted to the second fret noted without strumming the guitar again. Slides are covered in greater detail later in the Actoguitar curriculum. If you're having difficulty playing the riff noted above, try playing just the bass note of the respective chords. For example, the first chord calls for playing the seventh fret/sixth string and the ninth fret/fifth string; try dropping the fifth string and playing just the sixth if you're having difficulty. For the remainder of the song, try playing just the notes marked on the fifth string. With practice, you'll be able to play the piece with full chords in due time.
    E|-------------------------------------------|
    B|-------------------------------------------|
    G|-------------------------------------------|
    D|-----7--7/9-9--12-11-12-11-12-11--7-7/9-9--|
    A|--9--5--5/7-7--10-9--10-9--10-9---5-5/7-7--|
    E|--7----------------------------------------|
  • Stan [sound clip, video clip] The Bass Brothers, the duo that did the vast majority of production work on Eminem's legendary sophomore effort The Marshall Mathers LP, penned a very rhythmic beat for what quickly became one of Eminem's signature songs, "Stan." The piece below is actually played on a bass guitar in the song, but can easily be transcribed for guitar. Riff one is played three times, followed by riff two being played once. Then the entire sequence is repeated throughout the song.
    Riff 1
    E|------------------:----------------|
    B|------------------:----------------| 
    G|------------------:----------------|
    D|------------------:-4--------------|
    A|----------7-----7-:----------------|
    E|--4-----4---------:---------7---6--|
    
    Riff 2
    E|-----------------:-----------------|
    B|-----------------:-----------------|
    G|-----------------:-----------------|
    D|-----------------:-----------------|
    A|---------7-----7-:-8-------7-------|
    E|-4-----4---------:-------------7-6-|

    Warm Up Exercises For Beginners

    When you're just starting out, stregthening your fingers is something you may need to focus on. Here is a great exercise for getting warmed up, and for your strengthening your fingers as well. Try to play along with the video below.
    ActoGuitar's purpose is to help people learn to play guitar, and to help experienced guitarists with professional ambitions reach their aspirations. Be sure to check out ActoGuitar website at this location.
  • 119 comments sorted by best / new / date

    comments policy
      stevodadidleo
      i liked watching the videos (well the ones that worked) but the lesson in general wasnt really helpful, but well done, im not dissing the lesson keep it up but this particular lesson was a bit dissapointing. cheers.
      Polishboy656
      easier to play irom man like this e| B|- G|- D|-5--7xx7/9--9-9--12\11-12\11-12\11 --7--7 /9--9-9---| A|-2--5xx5/7--7-7--10\9--10\9--10\9- --5--5/7--7 -7---| E|-
      fatstrat08
      as i am just starting out the tutorials really help...i enjoy practicing and your lessons really help out!!! keep it up
      Michael056
      i read both the part 1 and part 2 and i have a understanding of the rhytm guitar playing style but i dont understand about the lead guitar playing style like i know what it is that they do but it doesnt say how to play that style like you did with the rhythm guitar playing style could you clarify this for me? PM me or just post a lesson that people can learn how to play lead from
      warlockking
      Ok for someone who just picked up a guitar and spent the last 5 hours tuning it, but it doesn't really show how to actually write and perform solos. Good for beginners with high speed internet.
      Dirk Gently
      Ibanezax372 wrote: Your kidding me, this is total junk. It doesn't teach anything at all. And you even go off topic into rhythm guitar for a while!!!!! A solid beginner lead guitar lesson should start out with the Pentatonic Box. Sorry, good try but this just was not good at all.
      I tend to agree. I found very little in this article that could actually qualify as "instruction." Checked.
      Polishboy656
      D|-5--7xx7/9--9-9--12\11-12\11-12\11 A|-2--5xx5/7--7-7--10\ 9--10\9--10\9- --7--7/9--9-9---| --5--5/7--7-7---| more ;ike this :p
      WhiteStripesIII
      Good lesson, but
      First bursting on to the scene in the mid-90s, the White Stripes
      They formed in 1997, released their first album in 1999 and broke threw in 2001. Plus the Seven Nation Army riff is right, but played on the A-string
      Ibanezax372
      Your kidding me, this is total junk. It doesn't teach anything at all. And you even go off topic into rhythm guitar for a while!!!!! A solid beginner lead guitar lesson should start out with the Pentatonic Box. Sorry, good try but this just was not good at all.
      handlerb
      how is this helpful?...you posted videos and commented on them. I can teach intro to lead guitar in 2 words. Pentatonics and phrasing: done.
      Josher.K
      Very nice, would help newbies alot, I learned some songs XD Ironman. I'll check around the site for the solo and stuff though. _____
      asdf123 wrote: I have a question. Why does my electric sound like an acoustic XP.
      Look for something that says Drive or OverDrive or Distortion on your amp. Also, the little leverish thing on your guitar that makes flicky noises, push it downwards.
      Bendrix
      he uses a slide for the solo if u were going to go and learn that bit
      guitarherolol
      dont like it the video 4 when i come around says g5 d5 em c5 and they start wid b5 .wat the hell?
      mygibsonrocks
      the tabs and sound clip on riff #2 are different. it starts on the d string not the a string as the tab shows.
      RandyRIP
      This hardly qualifies as an introduction to 'lead' guitar. I am rather disappointed, Beginners may find use out of this, but I have played rythem for 2 years and this is all 'review' if even that at all. Sorry this lesson gets a 5 for hardly touching lead guitar, but deserves a 5.
      BlitzAcez
      So when you use the fourth fretboard do you use your little finger? so E ---2----4-----2----4--- would be middle finger than little finger? seems the most hard choice or is this good to practice.
      08L1V10N
      asdf123 wrote: I have a question. Why does my electric sound like an acoustic XP.
      Maybe you replaced your strings? Then it sounds acoustic for 1-2 weeks
      JD Close
      I have a question. Why does my electric sound like an acoustic XP
      Turn it to a good rock sounding setting: gain 8, treb 7, mid 7, bass 6. Oh, and volume 10.
      Bass-or-Nothing
      08L1V10N wrote: the When I Come Around tab is totally wrong
      Dude no its not, your just not playin it right. It looked wrong when i tried playin it first too but its right
      willwelsh816
      Penis never mentioned Eric Clapton at all, he was the reason hendrix came to england, and got Worldwide fameous. not even a mere mention
      monobrow7
      i dont know why your filling up the lesson with clips of your favorite guitarists and song.... we dont care! we can search all that shit on youtube your lesson doesnt even focus on lead... pretty useless lesson
      fenne50
      great lesson make more lol like this was all easy but not bad to reveiw
      Major Bob
      Just a little edit, Black Sabbaths Iron Man Key: (/)= Legato Slide (only pick the 1st note) / = Slide (pick both notes) main riff e|-----| B|-----| G|-----| D|-----| A|9--12-(12/14 )-14--(17/16)-(17/16)-17/12-(12/14)-14-| E|7--10-(10/12)-12 --(15/14)-(15/14)-15/10-(10/12)-12-| This is out of an official tab book, no offence meant to the person who wrote the lesson, I have learnt from it myself, it should also make playing the riff alot easier as it's all on two strings, it still sounds the same (as it's the same notes) i'm just giving an alternative version. I can't remember timings though, if you have heard the song then the timings are fairly obvious.
      Shredderofdeath
      dude thanks a ton! this kicks ass! post more lessons like this and name them intro to rythm guitar if u have to, but this is a kick ass lesson!! morE MORE
      texzephyr
      GOOD LESSON, HELPED ME WIT WEN I COME AROUND, HARDLY A LEAD LESSON THOUGH, ITS MORE JUS RIFFS, ANOTHER ONE SOON?