If my friend wrote a basic (rock/country ish) song over some guitar chords, any advice on how to add a lead guitar part? I.e. more than playing a pentatonic scale in same key as rhythm?

Sorry it's a noob question, I only really play guitar pro tabs, but I think i've hit a basic technical proficiency I should learn how to improv. Let me know if that doesn't make sense..

  • Are you talking about a guitar solo for the middle of the song, or a lead part to bubble along in the background all the way through? Or both? Commented May 16, 2018 at 21:11
  • Mainly a lead part to bubble along in the background, but both
    – smackenzie
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 3:27
  • The solo could implement variations on the chorus. And the "bubbling along" could do variations on the lyrics. That seems to me to be the "normal" pattern. But I'm probably as much a noob as you - the vast majority of my experience is in listening.
    – theGleep
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 14:37
  • Try some chord tones. For example, play the 3rd and 5th of the first chord, the 1st and the 3rd of the second chord, the 3rd and the 5th of the third chord, and the 7th and the 3rd of the fourth chord. In general you can always play chord tones to get a line that works with a chord progression.
    – user39614
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


In my workshop/woodshed, what you are asking is part of what is called working up a song. I record a rhythm track and use it played over and over to work up the lead parts that I want for the song. I try arpeggiating chords, improvising from scales or modes, playing repetitive phrases, and anything else I can think of. Then I start to play around with embellishing the parts I've decided to keep. It's a lot of experimenting and finding what works, but I enjoy it.

That's different from when I jam with strangers and friends, because decisions and music are made on the spot, but my experience from my workshop and the knowledge that I've accumulated there, still comes into play when jamming.

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