How To Switch Rhythm To Lead Guitar

August 6, 2022

How To Easily Switch From Rhythm Guitar To Lead Guitar In 3 Steps

One of the most common questions I get asked from guitar students is how to switch back and forth from rhythm guitar to lead guitar.

Frustrated guitarists share that their transitions feel forced and unnatural. They want a smoother, more integrated sound.

Fortunately, it’s a relatively simple process if you already have basic rhythm and lead skills.

Step 1- One Bass Note To One Lead Note

Start by playing a single bass note, openE on string 6. Let it ring for four beats, then play a high D on the 15th fret of string 2.

Make sure these two notes do not ring together. Mute previous note as you enter the new measure.

Practice changing your bass and lead notes to various positions around the fretboard.

Step 2- One Chord To One Lead Note With Phrasing

Next, transform your open E bass note into an E5 power chord. For your lead note, add a whole step bend with vibrato.

You can use any chord and any lead guitar note with any kind of phrasing- slides, bends, vibrato, whammy bar vibrato, trills, tremolo picking. The TAB provided is just one of many options.

Step 3- Fill The Space

Now just fill in the extra beats with more rhythm strumming and extra lead notes.

In this case, I’m using two extra E5 strums then extra E minor pentatonic scale notes surrounding our primary lead guitar target note, the high D bent up to E on the 15th fret of the second string.

The Most Important Element…

Practice! Spend time experimenting with your guitar. Turn off screens, put away the TAB books and just start switching and trying different notes and ideas. Add a backing drums track if keeping time is still a challenge for you.

If it isn’t coming together right away, stick with it. It will begin to come together. Be patient and give it time.

Need Extra Help?

If you are consistently hitting a brick wall in your guitar playing, schedule an introductory guitar lesson with us and we’ll help guide you every step of the way!


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