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 Lead Guitar Fills

One of the most common things I come across when teaching is the phrase “I just freeze, and I don’t know what to play”. This is commonly associated with jam sessions and trying out new guitars and pedals at the local music store. My favourite technique for combating this is using lead guitar fills between chords. In today’s lesson, I am going to show you how to use power chords, open string drones in the style of Andy Timmons, and a lick in the style of Jimi Hendrix! Make sure you watch the YouTube video to see and hear the full speed and slow speed version of all the examples.

Lead Guitar Fills Example 1 – A Minor Rock Groove

Example one combines power chords (A5, G5, and F5) in the key of A minor with the A minor pentatonic scale (A C D E G) to create a rock groove. This simple and effective idea is a quick way to get comfortable adding in lead guitar fills to your rhythm playing.

 

Blending Rhythm and Lead Guitar - Example 1 Am Groove

Lead Guitar Fills Example 2 – Andy Timmons Style

I first got introduced to Andy Timmons when studying at the Guitar Institute. His melodic rock style blew me away as it combined rhythm and lead guitar licks into one guitar part. Example two uses open string drones with some melodic phrasing in the A Major scale (A B C# D E F# G#). Be sure to listen to the track Electric Gypsy by Andy Timmons for further listening.

Blending Rhythm and Lead Guitar - Example 2 Andy Timmons

Lead Guitar Fills Example 3 – Hendrix Style

Hendrix raised the bar when it came to lead guitar fills. In example three I have tried to demonstrate a few classic Hendrix phrases in the key of D major. Make sure you watch the slowed down version on YouTube so you can hear how I phrase this idea.

Blending Rhythm and Lead Guitar - Example 3 Jimi Hendrix

Recommended listening

For classic lead guitar fills, I recommend buying the album That Was Then, This Is Now by Andy Timmons. My favourite track on that album being Electric Gypsy.

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Guitar Lesson Video Transcription

Hi YouTube, Simon here once again for the amazing Fundamental Changes. Today we are going to look at 3 rocky ways to blend rhythm and lead guitar fills in your own playing. We’re going to have a look at those, just after this.

[guitar playing]

Something that I’m frequently asked as a teacher and player out in the guitaring world, is people always say to me ‘I just don’t know what to play when I’m in this scenario. I just freeze. I’m at a local music store, I’m out jamming with a friend, and all of a sudden all of the things that I thought I knew I don’t know anymore.’ One of my favorite ways to counteract that is to use little chord progressions by adding lead guitar fills as well, to build a complete one-guitar arrangement.

Example 1 there uses 3 very simple power chords: A power chord at the 5th flat, which is just 5,7,7; G power chord at the 3rd flat 3, 5, 5; F power chord at the 1st flat 1, 3, 3. Then we add in some minor pentatonic fills – A minor pentatonic fills in the middle there, which you will see in the tab article in the link below in the description. Example 1 is really, really cool. Just taking a power chord progression and a key, and filling in the gaps with some minor pentatonic or blues licks. Try and write your own 3-chord power chord sequence and use the minor pentatonic to jam between those chords. You’ll also notice that this is a call and response. The A5 and the F5 have the same lick, but the G5s have 2 different licks in them as well. Let’s have a look at Example 2.

[guitar playing]

Example 2 uses an idea that I stole from the magnificent Andy Timmons. If you don’t know much about Andy Timmons, he’s an incredibly melodic rock player who uses loads of techniques. In his tune Electric Gypsy, he uses open strings and then creates a melody on the string below it. This example uses A Major and D Major type themes with an open A root and an open D root, the 5th and the 4th string. Then you’ll add in some lead guitar fills on the string below it. Quite melodic, quite a cool way to do it, so try having an open droning open string, then playing some little licks on the string below it, quite a fun little idea for droning open strings. Let’s look at Example 3.

 

[guitar playing]

As most of you are probably aware, Hendrix was pretty much a master of combining rhythm and lead at all points in his playing. Tracks like Little Wing, and loads and loads of other tunes, you can get this vibe. I’ve created a Hendrix-esque, and I’m saying Hendrix-esque because it’s not exactly Hendrix. It’s just trying to use some of his techniques idea in the key of D Major. It has got D Major, B minor, A and G progression going on here in the key of D. I’m using fills between those chords, as we’ve been talking about all the way today. For the D Major, I’m playing D Major pentatonic or B minor pentatonic, if you like. For the B minor, I’m playing a little B blues lick. For the A I’m just using the top strings to create a little Hendrix Major chord example in the hammer-ons, and the same with the G, quite a fun example you can move to many, many different keys.

I hope you’ve got something from this lesson today, try out power chords and fills in the middle, open string drones and fills in the middle, and more bar chords Hendrix-esque rhythm and lead fills. I’m always here if you need me, pop a comment below, or send us a message through Fundamental Changes, and take care. See you soon.

Hi everyone, thanks for watching this rhythm guitar with lead guitar fills lesson. I hope you got something from it. Make sure you check out my new book Melodic Rock Soloing, link in the description below.

Check out Joseph’s website Fundamental Changes and I’ll see you next time for more free videos. Take care.

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Simon Pratt Guitar Teacher

Author - Simon Pratt

Simon Pratt attended the Guitar Institute (now called the Institute Of Contemporary Music Performance) in London where he excelled in his Diploma of Popular music performance and graduated in 2005. His passion for funk music continued while studying privately with top funk player and editor of Future publishing magazines Jason Sidwell. Always keen to learn, Simon has attended…

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10 responses to “Lead Guitar Fills”

  1. Wolfgang says:

    Hi Joseph,

    wow, thank you for this lessen. It’s a theme, I’ve been witig for.

    Have a nice time.

    Kind regards from Germany (also for Simon)

    Wolfgang

  2. Smashy says:

    Really useful, thanks – just what I wanted

  3. david biscoe says:

    Hi Joseph,thanks for the lesson and love working with your books.I am 67 years old, been playing on and of for 50 years, never got past intermediate level, classical flamenco etc, now I am retired looking after the dear wife I am working with your books theory etc and love blues guitar and music theory etc.I have 5 GUITARS gibson being one of them.Any I wont ramble on , thanks for your work keep it up. regards Dave

    • Really glad that all the free guitar lessons and guitar books are helping you Dave!

      Keep it up, I have plenty of students in their 60s and beyond. Sounds like you’re really making the most of your guitars! Enjoy it!

      Joseph

  4. Max says:

    Hey Joseph, I was wondering if your blues guitar books would be appropriate for beginners (4 months of playing) like myself?

  5. Max says:

    Hi Jospeh, I was wondering if your blues guitar books would be easy to understand for a beginner like myself (4 months of guitar playing, but only 3 lessons)?

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