Before tackling this course, you should be comfortable with all the material from Essentials Part 2

Welcome to the essentials course part three! During the next 5 lessons we will be ramping up the difficulty level by learning soloing techniques, how to riff and even attempt your very first full guitar solo! There is plenty to absorb in this next set of lessons, but if you take it one lesson at a time and practice in between, you'll pick it all up in no time!

Summary: 1324 Exercise

These exercises are known as ‘spider exercises’ as they help us gain independence in each of our fingers (which ends up looking like a spider is climbing up and down your fretboard!). As shown in the video we will start by getting the hand into the correct position. As a quick recap you need to:

  • 1. Put your thumb at the back of the neck,
  • 2. Spread your 4 fingers across 4 frets, one finger per fret,
  • 3. Make sure you push down on the edge of the fret,
  • 4. As you start, be sure to alternate pick with your right hand.

Materials: 1324 tab

If you would like to double check the exercise and play along with the tab, then click on the link below and get your guitars ready!

Summary: Hammer ons & pull offs

The term ‘legato’ essentially means smooth playing. On the guitar legato means playing using hammer ons and pull offs. This can be a tricky technique at first, but in the video lesson I take you through exactly how to perform both techniques. In terms of practicing the technique we will be using the pentatonic scale in a variety of keys against a drum loop, as shown in the tab below.

We will be looking at the tab for the exercise below, but it is important to know the symbols for hammer ons and pull offs when reading tab. They look like this:

Materials: Legato exercise tab

The exercise is essentially playing through 5 keys of the pentatonic shape 1 using hammer ons and pull offs. This is a tricky exercise, so be sure to start nice and slow to get the accuracy and develop the strength. The tab is below.

Song: 'American Lady'

The above video is the full play through of our very own tune, 'American Lady'. This song is all about applying your new pentatonic skills to a cool riff that will help improve your speed, plectrum accuracy and consistency. We are deliberately using plenty of hammer ons and pull offs to practice the technique. Watch the video all the way through then proceed to the next video for the full tutorial and learning materials.

Summary: 'American Lady'

To practice our new legato technique we will learn this cool rock riff, custom written to help you get a grasp on hammer ons and pull offs. The track is in the key of A minor using the A minor pentatonic shape 1. The riff repeats through the entire song. As a quick reminder, here is your pentatonic shape 1 in A minor:

Materials: 'American Lady' tab

Click the link below to find the full tab for the song. You can speed it up, slow it down and even loop areas that you find difficult!

Audio: 'American Lady' track & backing track

If you are ready to play along with the full track you can use the audio files here (alternatively play along with the video or the tab above!).

Summary: Slides

After hammer ons and pull offs this is probably the most widely used technique on the guitar. It can easily turn a boring scale into something far more exciting! The video takes you through exactly how to slide, so we will talk about what they look like on guitar tab.

So as you can see a slide is notated with a diagonal line joining each note. The way you know if the slide is going up or down is based on the notes and direction of the arrow. So, if you look at the first slide the notes are 5th fret to 7th fret. The arrow is also going upwards to signify that the slide is upwards. The reverse is then true for the next slide where you move from 7th fret to 5th fret and the arrow is moving downwards. Our final example is a slide up and down. This is where we only play one note, then slide it up and without picking again, slide it back down.

Summary: Your first solo

Ok, so it is now time to attempt our first guitar solo! We are using the key of C minor and therefore using the C minor pentatonic solo (as shown below). This is a tricky solo as it combines slides, hammer ons and pull offs. Parts of the solo are pretty quick as well, so be sure to take it one bar at a time and gradually build up the speed!

Materials: Solo tab

You will need to pay close attention to the tab when tackling solos. Be sure to learn one lick at a time and piece the licks together as you go. Use the tab player to loop each lick until you can play it at whatever speed, then add the second lick to the loop and continue this process through the entire solo. Click the link below for the tab.

Audio: Your first solo

If you are ready to play along with the full track you can use the audio files here (alternatively play along with the video or the tab above!).

Ready to move on? Remember to check out every lesson in this unit first – then try the next unit...

Essentials Part 4

In this final week for the essentials course, we will be developing your pentatonic playing even further by adding bends, looking at another solo using all the techniques you have learnt so far, and finally learning a Foo Fighters style rock song!