How The Pros Play Lead Guitar - 9 Techniques & Concepts | Altin Gjoni | Skillshare

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How The Pros Play Lead Guitar - 9 Techniques & Concepts

teacher avatar Altin Gjoni, Playing with feel is the key

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      What You Will Learn


    • 2.

      Add Intent With String Rakes


    • 3.

      Play With Dynamics


    • 4.

      Micro Bends


    • 5.

      Play Like a Singer


    • 6.

      How To Use A Pick & Get Natural Reverb


    • 7.

      Slide Into Phrases


    • 8.

      Controlling Your Vibrato


    • 9.

      Guitar Swells, Sounds & Piano Emulation


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About This Class

A Practical Guide to 9 Techniques, Tips, and Concepts that will improve your guitar solos and help you sound more musical - Easy to Grasp and Immediately Applicable for Every Skill Level & Style derived from my experience of recording in over 200 multi-genre albums. This course is an addition to my previous course that includes only 5 techniques.

The following lessons will touch on Techniques, Dynamics, Fretboard Knowledge & Improvising, Touch & Feel so that you make better music, not just play better leads.

  1. Guitar rakes- Play with intention 
  2. Sliding in & out of solo- Spice up your live solos
  3. Right Hand & Tone Dynamic- The Essential of Playing With Feel
  4. How The Pros Use The Pick & Natural Guitar Reverb
  5. Right Hand & Tone Dynamics
  6. Key To The Fretboard - Think Like a Singer
  7. Simple Way To Solo Over Chord Changes
  8. Truly Control Your Vibrato
  9. Texture Touches

What I teach here is what I apply daily in my studio work, not licks and tricks, but concepts you build above what you already know. Whether you are a BEGINNER guitar player still struggling to improvise or an INTERMEDIATE guitar player who wants to get to the next level, this class will give you what you need to work on. Even if you are an advanced player, I promise you will have some 'aha' moments.

What I teach is valid for Acoustic & Electric Guitar and adaptable for every genre, from rock, blues, funk, pop, country, and even metal. The most crucial factor is that I will show HOW TO IMPLEMENT THEM IMMEDIATELY with the licks & solos you already know & knowledge you have.

This course requires only knowing a pentatonic box shape for some of these techniques & no specific knowledge for most of them. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Altin Gjoni

Playing with feel is the key


My music career started like any other self-taught musician who was and is a music nerd. I like to use one phrase to include it all, meaningful accidents happening consistently in my life.

Years after picking up the guitar for the first time, I'm now a session guitar player who has recorded and played in hundreds of albums for international artists. I took the best out of the online world and managed to do my work remotely from my small country or even during covid. 

I do love to teach and as well to write about music. Perhaps some of my studio logs will catch your attention as a music lover or six-string player.



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1. What You Will Learn: Hi and welcome to my lesson on improving your guitar solos using studio musicians, tips, techniques, and approaches. I'm out in a studio musician and a record on hundreds of albums. Thus, I've repaired this lesson that covers some of the techniques that all professional players use. Whether you're a beginner, whether you're an intermediate player, upper intermediate player, you still will be able to apply this cast as what you're finished this video, because there are different levels to all of them for which you can work over time. We're going to learn how to hear them first, what difference that makes and how you can apply them in the lakes, solos and leads that you already know. I'm not going to teach you difficult techniques, what you're going to take, things that you already know. Whether it's just the pentatonic scale of just a single blues lick and riff. And we're going to work over them to make them sound better, more tight and just like our recorded. So take your guitar and start the lesson right away. I promise you, you're gonna get something out of it, even if you're seeing that you're not yet in the level to play a solo. 2. Add Intent With String Rakes: The first tool you can add right away to your playing Arsenal, our guitar rakes. Guitar breaks, basically consistent thrumming through the strings while muting with the left, right hand or both of them at the same time. The sounds something like this. So basically what I was doing is playing on the 14th fret. And while doing that before actually playing the highest string, I was breaking through the five other strings. The reason why guitar players do that is because it brings a lot of emotional intent and being so a lot of purpose to the part that you're playing. So basically it's the logic of a drum filled before the drum starts. It separates some structures from one another. It, it brings more in, is more moral attack and more power to the certain parts. You'll heal blues players, there is a large rock layers. Even metal players do it, but slightly more aggressively some cases. Now I'm going to play the same thing with rakes and then we'd break so you can hear the difference in the emotional intent behind it. Now the same thing, but without breaks. It sounds much cleaner, but it's also much thinner. This leak is taken from very famous, they've had given her salute, you probably already figured out. And if you listen closely to the record, most of this, he's told us in the classic blues players from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan, them to Gilmore into older grades all the way. Especially when they start elite part or in times even in-between the end of their soldiers to put more attention to specific part. It's not a specific rule. There is no specific rule on where you should rake. However, you should pay conscious attention to where you're applying it. So it doesn't just become a habit, but it just becomes an intentional international trick that you hadn't away. Let me now show you the technique behind it. So basically it's pretty straightforward. You just use your usual permuting. Put your right hand close to the bridge without touching the bridge. Just a bit more close to the pickup and apply some pressure. Then the logic is to mute all the strings besides the string that you're playing. The way to do that, you should go through the strings and the morphology go to the high string. And if you don't wanna do it on the same logic, the same logic. As you can see. My left hand is helping me out because I'm muting with the sum and putting my son but for the neck. And I'm also meeting with my index finger. So basically only with the left-hand new thing, it sounds like this is still very much me with it, but it's still, there's some routing there if I use the right hand as well. So basically a combination of flat hand muted and right-hand looting. I'm going to show another example in a very typical blues lick. So what I'm doing now is applying the same logic I'm using with my son. The bass strings and unmuting with my first finger, the treble strings. And ultimately with my right hand. You feel the same thing without breaking eggs. There's much more power, much more intent behind it. Technique. It's something that you always develop over time because even for professional players, muting is always part of their plane that is developed by habit. In the studio. Guitar, music is an essential part because you only want to let them ring out what you need to end up in the record or in the live show. You kind of get the habit of meeting me both the left and the right hand just by our seniors of playing. The only thing that I can give you regarding muting, besides putting your hand close to the bridge and just resting your hand on the strings. It's consciously think when you're muting or not, don't just do it out of habit. That's the main thing. If you consciously thing when you're muting, then you will get better at muting and you will know how much power we have to apply in both in the left and the right hand. The guitar also plays a major role. Of course, the different bridges are different. When you play another guitar, you kind of feel like everything is alright. I just, I can't mute as I was moving, but that's pretty normal. So what I would advise you right now, just take the soldiers shoulder ready play, and start adding rakes in different parts of the solo. 3. Play With Dynamics: Probably the most important topic we are discussing in this lesson is dynamics. Dynamics, very wide topic. It can refer to a lot of things. It can refer to the right hand playing. First semester you go. It can refer to the dynamics and your tone, how much gain you have an odd. However, the key to it is to think about dynamics center only on what happens in your hands and your guitar. So we're going to account, we're going to call tone. Everything is type is only shear and everything else that the bad debts and everything else we're going to call them effects for the moment. Now let me show you a few examples of returning to that mix. E.g. if I play the same lake, this time, I was playing it, everything was quite the same. Every node had the same strengths. It is kinda flat. If I add some more dynamics to it, it means that this term I made up to make the beginning of its strong and then let it down little bit loose towards the anode smallest away. The difference is slide, but it's highly affects your phrasing. How many people call it phrasing? Phrasing it just basically how you apply your dynamics and now you move through time. Now, really good way to exercise, isn't it kind of combines some right and left hand technique, something or coordination. He also combines dynamics. The exercise looks like this. I'm also going to add the tabs here so we don't have to go through their whole notes because it's kind of a finger twister. So basically the logic is, taking this basic movement, you move up one fret, play softer. I usually do it from the fifth. Which you can also go wild and go through all the fretboard. Logic is just try to make it softer the higher you go. It's tricky. It's not that easy. However, it's very rewarding. When you hear the full fret. You can just do it backwards. Then go to the other strings, and backwards. Then you didn't do the whole thing in the fretboard and other exercises to actually change the light I mix how strong your peak or not, even inside one shape, e.g. there are players like pet methionine who don't play one node at the same volume. They do that just because they can control masterfully the picking. All the guitar grades have excellent dynamics. There is also another part of dynamic, which is dynamic tone, which is something that we're using a lot. And even guitar players of Aboriginal use. But it's not really noticeable unless you're the one putting it is controlling the amount of gain. Using the strengths with your hand. Meaning that the stronger you pick them or gain the guitar will have stronger paying the software it'll pick, it might clean up. You can get this by using any AMP and ever driven any basic year. So let me show an example. Now I'm picking strongly. Now I'm going to use the same tone. I'm just gonna speak softly and the tone is kinda clean up. It's a crucial skill to have. Also, you can achieve the same results with your guitar. Volume knob is a volume knob is a ten. Distorted. If you're really down, it starts to clean up. There's a ton of weight experiment with this. So the way that I would exercise is to take, as I've said in all the previous technique, soldiers should already know, pieces that you already know. Put only one tone, one amp, one pedal, and that's it. And see if you can get through a number of songs using only that. What I do, e.g. a. Live shows, they only have one distortion, especially when it's in blue. So an overdrive pedals are no distortion. And our amp, and I use the same tone. I just control it either with a volume knob or either with my playing. The difference between me being a recent player. And lead is just a brilliant, I'll non forget. It's essential to make it consciously. Think at the beginning, I'm going to hit this software, I'm going to hit this harder, just uses some solace in time. Are going to notice that all big solos have dynamic own grid players use dynamics the whole time is the most essential skill you're going to have, is the one thing. Then can take it to the next level, whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or a professional player wants to break through at the highest level. 4. Micro Bends: Another technique that you can add to your playing is micro bending. Micro bending refers to slight changes in pitch that are not even a quarter step or could maximum beer cooler step and loose players do them a lot, e.g. it's the difference between playing this simple pentatonic crown of the a minor like this. I'm playing it like this. What I did there is just e.g. when I'm playing the eighth fret of the E, even a little bit. I don't go directly on micro bend. Basically, just slightly bit sharp the frets. You don't have to go all out. Just slightly. Even reach the pitch of the next Fred, just let me show you again the difference. I'm exaggerating a bit now because I'm using it in every node. However, it's best to just use this surprisingly when you just wanted to kind of give it a bit of spice. Another interesting thing you're going to be bending is used pretty bands when you start the solos, e.g. here I blend it to prevent from when I landed on the 13th fret micro bend in the forefront of the jeep. It kind of adds lots of tension. 5. Play Like a Singer: Another pro tip is to think like a singer and using the power of playing only on one string. Playing only one string help you learn the fret board faster because you're not stuck in box shapes. You connect pentatonic shapes first or any kind of shape. And you also start to think more melodically. E.g. the way that I approach session is like this. If you take a simple lick, a minor pentatonic 30, basically, you can play it in this position. You can play it alter in this position. Different positions. However, it's still guitar, bass lake, if you want to make it think like a singer and a lot of the Fred bone the same time, it's best to play it only in one string, which looks easy, but it's not as easy as playing it like muscle memory leak. Let's put it on the lower. Yeah. It sounds different. It is different than it sounds more lyrical because you don't skip strings and you have a natural flow. You actually start to learn the fretboard and start learning Python. She's loved the neck. Let's play. It. Went from here to here. And also a good way to approach it. It's sort of how much you're singing. This time we played it on the G. We can also have something different than based on what we're humming. The logic is very good if you go from here and you take a lot of flakes that you play on multiple strings and play them all in one string across the neck and you also start humming different melodies over them. A greater processing, like a singer is singing while you're playing. You don't have to nail the nodes because myself and not the greatest singer and I cannot catch a lot of pitches. However, I hum the dynamic. I hummed the intent, e.g. if I'm playing this lead, what I'm doing is I'm following with my guitar and falling my voice. I don't have to catch all the nodes. However, being that the voice is the most dynamic instrument, I kind of go after it in a certain way. So I advise you if you're stuck, if you're improvising and you don't have any more ideas on what to do. Just start singing some ideas or just some patterns, even without having the right nodes and then start applying them in your playing. Another example is, I'm playing an E minor. Let's suppose you're stuck here. You don't have any more ideas for what to do. In this case, I started thinking on one string. And I said, How many ideas? Okay, to start, then I started adding more strings to it. But as they start to, HM, who's trying to get somewhere here, not everything sounds good. However, just by following my voices have to get some different ideas that I would get if I will just be playing league soda pentatonic scale. 6. How To Use A Pick & Get Natural Reverb: On this next section, we're going to learn how to play with a pig dynamically and also how to get a reverb naturally from your guitar without having any effects. I chose to do it on an acoustic vectors. The effect of the pecan and acoustics is much more heightened. However, it is the same on an electric guitar, but just for the purpose of showing you I chose an acoustic so you can hear it better even if your ear is not trained. What I mean by using a big dynamically is that if you're given it thought, you might have noticed that different parts of the pig sound different. If you use the tip of the pick, you're going to have more attack them brighter tone. If you use the side of the page, you're going to have a more rounded down. So it changed a lot, especially if you play rhythm. Now the side, the difference is slide. However, it contributes, especially in high volumes and especially in your recordings. You will listen to it a lot. And you can also experiment, e.g. if you want to play like a lead, which you wanted to sound a bit muddier. You can experiment using either the thumb, the other side of the pig, e.g. also, where do you play in the springs matters a lot. If you're gonna get a thin tank, if you go closer to the bridge, if it gets closer to the neck. E.g. even in lead, there are lots of combinations. Now, to the most surprising part, the reverb you can get out of here. Guitar. Strings, guitars were their acoustic or electric, have a sympathetic ringing. Sympathetic ringing is that if you play e.g. the bees, there are some harmonics going on. There's sometimes even mess up your tuner. If you tune with your phone. If you play a string, all the strings are vibrating and producing some harmonics. Let me show you a very good example of it. If you play guitar without music at all. Meaning that even non-conscious muting. Because what happens is that often when we play guitar, we are used to putting the hand close to the bridge and meeting with our left hand just out of habit because we're used to me just so we don't make noise. If you do the opposite, if you put your hand as perpendicular, as parallel as possible to the guitar and you don't move at all with your right hand, you get this kind of ringing out of the guitar that has a reverb. There's a reverb going on on the guitar the whole time. If I play almost the same thing, but I play like normally, like with my fingers anchor debate and one muting, it sounds like this. Now I'm going to play it with my fingers not anchored and not eating at all. The guitars is sort of sympathetic, ringing. And the same concept applies even on an electric guitar. Let me show you now the same thing, but on an electric guitar. Now, on an electric guitar, the effective is felt slightly different. Everything is the same. Like if you pick here, you get to a more sound. If you pick here, you get a warmer sound. If you don't mute, you get more reverb. However, this is highly felt when you're actually playing lead guitar. If you hear classic records, e.g. Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page records, first Eric Clapton records. Players. They don't really mute a lot. One other platelets, e.g. when they played bends the left strings opened like you can heat a lot of these accidental strings ringing, didn't hear a lot of that natural reverb with a guitar, especially in old Jimmy Page recordings. Nowadays most players play cleanly, meaning that you rarely heels dental note, there are still, but you rarely hear them. Now, neither of the two methods, it's good or bad. You can do the first one and get the solos and it's great. Where do you put it consciously, but you can also mute. The effect is very slight. However, if you're going to record, it's highly failed. And if you're playing on a big stage, it is too high. The failed. So thing is practiced doing both practice, playing time and also participating. With your finger sprays. You're still gonna get this nice sympathetic reverb, which a lot of players do accidentally. But not many players know from where it comes from. And now you know it. 7. Slide Into Phrases: The other tool you can add right away or too early to playing is sliding in and out of phrases. Let me play you a phrase without sliding of the nuclear phrase with sliding. So basically the difference between the first and second leg was that in the first, I immediately started on the 14th fret. On the second, I slide it in and kind of gives it a more emotional impact when it comes in. Another way to put it, especially slide out, sliding Armenia when you're finished a phrase, you just go down the slide. You'll see a lot of blues and rock players do that. What you have to keep in mind is that it's not really important when you're slightly in front. If you end up in the right node is not very important. Even if I start the father of your star, the bigger the impact is. But it just depends on your timing and depends on the song, but doesn't really matter. Even when you slide out. The point is just sliding down and then raising your finger as you go down. It's pretty straightforward technique, but it also makes a difference. You can also combine it with breaking. You can do them both at the same time. A lot of blues players do. You can also slide in and out from other strings, meaning that if I'm going to start on the 12th, sorry, the 14th fret of the D. I can slide in from the GI. So I'm not starting. I slept. I can also slide from this finger bone. And the best example I could show you is the solar. We played all praying rigs because this soul doesn't start like this. But it starts Starting from the B string. And then you wait. So basically you're sliding in from the beach. And then you'll enter the 14th fret of the high. Now, if you're sliding from other strings, you have to keep in mind when you finish this slide. And it's different when you're studying the same string because he just laid down. The string. Doesn't matter. It always sounds like sounds good because it doesn't matter what you end up. You just sliding from another string. It does matter when you stop it because your ear kind of gets the difference. E.g. if I stopped here, it sounds like it's a different key. If I go here. So there's a difference in doing that. Another sliding in that is very popular that Jeff Beck invented, also called Jeff Beck sliding thing. I guess it's this technique when you play it. Back, do it for them. So what I'm doing is the 14th fret with my ring finger than immediately sliding in with my index. Then doing the same with the 14th and 15th fret. So the way to practice this is just dig any of the solos. And besides adding rankings, you can also add like sliding into starting out. This is actually what sometimes make the technique and make a signature thing of a player. E.g. I. Can sing out of my head of Steve VI who can just recognize him playing just of the way because how he slides in into different pieces. So basically take a basic lake. And just like that, you can also slide like I did here in front of the day. And then at full stop band, release, the fifth fret, land back. You can also do it like this. Just like multiples way to do it. It's just a matter of adapting. And as I sat in the regs, it's just a matter of consciously doing it at first and then making a habit out of it. Don't make a habit out of it just by being automatic because it's so much more likely than just doing it because you're used to do that. Relatively sounds good. So just consciously think why you're adding it and then start just applying it to all if air leaks and off your souls whenever you think it's best to do it. 8. Controlling Your Vibrato: Another very specific concept that I wanted to talk to you about is using vibratos and effect. As you know, every guitar player is different, my router, and it's actually the thing that tells guitar players the most from each other. If you listen to a great player, you can tell him from the Ramayana one as a software bottom, one is a very relative errata, e.g. Angus Young is he has a very fast, aggressive vibrato. And the whole time other players have a very mellow one like BB King. He's a more rounded one. However, the thing that many players misleads many players is that they think they should have only one vibrato. And they unconsciously have a kind of automatic vibrato the whole time, especially intermediate or yet to be intermediate players have only one kind of era which is automatic, e.g. the play. What I mean by automatic vibrato is that you don't sink. But if you're playing vibrato now than ever, it's not sort of sounds the same. Now, great players think consciously about the vibrato, and you should also do that because it's just a way of thinking is it's hard to implement cinco vibrato note as a technique, but as an effect. If we're playing over a very soft piece, you might want to have a softer vibrato. Each are playing over the first piece. What are Festival route or you might not want to have about at all. Now let's just take a leak and placed in different ways. Not only buried all vibrato. Vibrato. Every time it sounds different like this. Take a bend. Very aggressive and fast vibrato. Let's make a softer one. No, or November at all. The emotional content emotionally intended should get from every different types of vibrato infants to the song. And even great guitar players don't have one single type. They might fall in a single category, but they all think consciously aware they use it. E.g. the best one is David Gilmore. If you listen to Shannon, you the Crazy Diamond is the beginning. He uses very fuzzy about them. Also use the whammy bar to do it. However, in the middle of the song, he starts going very slow vibrato. Why? Because the dynamic of the song is changing. So just don't think about vibrato as a technique that you always have to do, but think it rather as a conscious effect that you choose to apply and use it in the solid material or deploying and think consciously or where you want to put it and where you don't want to put it in your solace will improve like 50% right away. Only by using that, you will start to hear that different things are happening. And notes are starting to sound different. Solids flow better. 9. Guitar Swells, Sounds & Piano Emulation: So now in this section I'm going to go around. So I'm a bit more specific techniques that we use in sessions to get them more than once ferric sound or to use more special sound. The first one is guitar swells. Swells as basically just playing an out, raising the volume as an OT goals and using a lot of reverb and delay to get this atmospheric effect. If you're combining with bending, you get this very cool effect. You just play the note and you raise the volume with your pinky. It works great if you use your thumb. Another thing we often use in sessions is having the electric piano sound of the guitar. How you do that is just your acetone. And you pleat exactly 12 frets up your fingers. So e.g. here, from the G minor cold, though, 12th fret higher, and I'm going to play, it kinda gets its worldly. Are eligible electric piano sound. If you do the same thing, but you do it with tapping, are gonna get some very cool harmonics. Another great technique that we use with the slide is you'll get the slides squeals above the 24th fret. What they mean is that if you put enough your practice to it, you can actually catch the notes and just by picking, just by gently tapping with your slide. And I use this a lot to put like atmospheric layers around it sounds like bird droppings. The trick is to just start analysing when you find the node e.g. I. Want to go to the cecil, so he is also here. So as long as you have a lot of reverb and delay going on, if fingered a lot of cool effects while you're paying live using this.