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Rhythm Guitar:
Playing Licks Between Chord Changes



Q: Hey Andrew, I want to add some lead licks or runs between my chord changes to give it more life than just strumming away on chords. I know my scales and triad and 7th arpeggios very well. How can I add more lead to my rhythm playing, or is there any exercises that might help. Thanks and keep up the great work!
- Richard, NYC.

A: Thanks for writing in. Playing licks and runs around chord changes; (like Hendrix or Stevie Ray), has a lot to do with a couple of important points... Namely being super solid at your rhythm guitar chops for fast easy chord changes and really knowing your scales before you try shooting licks in and around chords.

First of all, let's look at scales... You will need to know your scales, especially the pentatonics. In the video lesson I cover two pentatonic patterns I think are quite important. These include in position as well as along the neck.

Key of A Major



Key of A Minor

Begin with the in position pentatonics given in the examples. If you already know these scales, you can move onward to the along the neck patterns given in the video.

When getting this technique together, the practice of a pre-established set of chord changes before-hand makes all the difference in the world. Find yourself a few nice chords (or something common like the minor blues I used in the video). Jam on it until it becomes second nature. The majority of your focus must be on the licks when you begin implementing them. So, the chord changes should be 100% going in.

When developing licks and lines in general it is important to have a good awareness of; basic scale application, key signatures, and chord harmony. Once we apply licks around chords however, these areas need to be developed to a much higher level. Make a serious study of harmony and theory so you can understand what scales to use and know your scale patterns and chord shapes on the fingerboard. For extra practice, I'd suggest looking into a book called Total Scales. It is excellent!


Download the FREE Lessons Material for this Video
Lick and Chord Exercise Chart
rhythm chart
Adobe PDF format
TAB Chart for the Intro Piece
rhythm chart