The tune Heartbreaker from Led Zeppelin is what Steve Vai first remembers when his sister brought it home. That was the magic that got it all started. “When I heard “Heartbreaker” and that solo…I knew I wanted to play guitar!”. Yeah… He plays. But wait a minute, did he take lessons? I have no idea, but even if he didn’t, he must have been motivated to teach himself.
How important is it to take lead guitar lessons? It really depends on how motivated you are. Many of the greatest lead guitarists had little or no formal music education. George Harrison, for example, took only a few formal lessons and learned mainly by listening to, analyzing and then imitating the styles of his idols such as Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins. However, for majority of the people who would like to become lead guitarists, taking formal lessons is really important. You can learn what you need to, in order to become a good guitarist without a time-consuming trial and error process. And having an actual teacher to criticize your playing can motivate you to play better, avoid common mistakes of beginners and pick up a few handy tricks along the way. In short, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by signing up for lessons.
Ok, so you know lead guitar lessons are important. What can you expect to learn from them? First, check out scales. So once you’ve mastered the notes of the scales, you can then play just about any guitar piece. And improvising with other guitarists like Carlos Santana, are a breeze. The scales you’ll want to learn include the major and minor Pentatonic Scale, which has five notes, and the Blues Scale, which has all the notes of the Pentatonic Scale but also has an extra note to give it that blues sound.
While it may seem boring to be practicing scales when you’re itching to play whole songs and blazing solos, doing so will help you become a truly good musician. Once you’ve mastered the scales, you can begin mastering various techniques to make your solo playing sound better. These include slides, where you change notes by sliding your finger from one fret to the next, vibratos which involve bending the string slightly to cause the pitch of the note you’re playing to flutter or waver slightly and string bending, in which you make the note rise in pitch by pushing or pulling the guitar string.
Lead guitar lessons and a good teacher can help shape you into the guitar virtuoso you’ve always dreamed of becoming. When I first got started, you had to drag me to the guitar class, but much later, I am so thankful for the things those lessons taught me. It was the best thing that could have happened to me.