So many times new guitarists want to start playing hot lead guitar without learning the basics of scales within the chord structure. It is so much easier to frame your lead around the chord structure than to try and fit the licks you know into each and every song you play. Learning new licks is not bad. But just because you learn a new lick does not mean it will fit in every song. And if you have the idea that you need to learn every lick that Clapton plays and that will make you the ultimate guitar player, well you have a lot of work ahead of you. I said it is easier to frame a lead around the chord structure. However it requires much more work. Where do you start? Well I would suggest the scale within the chords.
First you have to learn scales in the different positions on the neck of the guitar. This is not so difficult because of the repetitive nature of the neck. It will come together for you and a light bulb in your head will go off. Soon you will be able to slide to any position and know what is going on.
Next take the chord progression of the song, which should come quite easy for you, and play the melody within the chord changes. Someone once said, “If a good musician you shall be, first learn to play the melody.” How very true. Simple, but this is your foundation. Once you have the melody within the chord changes, move up and down the neck playing the melody in different positions. This should open up a flood of options within your playing.
Now that you know the song’s melody from all angles, concentrate on playing the changes while doing some hybrid picking. Hybrid picking is simply holding your pick as normal but instead of using the pick only use your other three fingers on your picking hand to pluck the strings. Now comes the fun part. Once you have mastered the chord changes and rhythm while using hybrid picking instead of just strumming, alternate between the pick and fingers and try and fit in portions of the melody within the chords and between the changes. Portions of the melody is the key. Don’t try and play the entire melody but accent the chord changes with notes that belong within the melody. Now try moving around the neck to different positions and see which fits most comfortably with your style. You will notice that there will be a position or series of positions that fits well within your level of playing.
Once you have accomplished this feat you will be well on your way to playing great guitar. All accomplished lead guitarists have framed their leads off of this type of rhythm. Good luck.