Donations help me to keep this free and available for all, and to continue providing more. Please donate.
Lead Guitar Jam Tracks
In this section you will find scales to learn and then improvise over a recorded backing track:.
If you are planning on traveling down the Improvisation Highway this scale is like your very first car….and it’s a Camaro! You will always love it and if you are smart you well keep it and maintain it because it will gain value over time. This is one of the most usefull scales you will ever learn. First: drill the scale at least 5 minutes without stopping everyday until you know it well. Second: be able to start on any note in the scale. When you have the scale learned play the rhythm track and solo using the scale. Start using the notes on strings 1 and 2. After you feel comfortable then use the notes on strings 3 and 4. Then mix 1-4 together. After that use the whole scale.
Don't try to play a lot of notes, instead play phrases. Think of phrases as sentence. Play a sentence and then take a breath. Listening to a player who does not use phrases is like listening to someone talk without ever taking a breath.
All three sclaes will work over the A Minor backing track.
Speed and Technique Exercises
To build speed I have found it’s most important to develop right hand picking first, then the left hand will follow. This exercise is simply the A blues pentatonic scale. The first time through pick each note four times doing down-up picking, or alternate picking. I do this starting at 100 beats per minute on my metronome, playing eighth notes, and work to as fast as I can. (You may find it easier to keep time if you switch to sixteenth notes at higher speeds.) Then the same thing with two times per note, and then once per note, but always alternating the right hand.
This is perhaps the most important ex you can do to build speed. Do this everyday and then pick other exercises and WORK WITH A METRONOME!
I use this exercise as a warm-up and speed exercise in my daily practice. It’s a minor 7 arpeggio (notes of a chord played like a melody) with the root on the 5th string. When you complete one arpeggio you move up chromatically (one fret at a time) until you have done the arpeggio on each fret up to the 12th fret and then move back down, one fret of the time to finish on the 2cd fret. I like this arpeggio because it uses all four fingers and is an easy arpeggio to use when improvising. When a minor chord is played you can play this arpeggio to create a nice lick.
Follow the pick markings to use this as sweep ex. You can also alternate pick this ex.
Pick every note on this descending sequence pattern in the key of C that is actually based on the melody of the string instrumental bridge in the song “Beth” by Kiss.
This is the fast section in Mozart’s “Sonata in C Major”. It’s a great melody to develop speed. I did an arrangement of this tune for classical guitar in my book “Famous Classical Themes” with tab and CD (shameless plug alert) published by Hal Leonard. Save your money and buy this book. You won’t be sorry.
Classical and Fingerstyle
Before the Roses Bloom is an easier solo guitar piece in classical style. Chords are used in most measures to play the melody, so find the chord shape for the measure and hold it, and you will find most of the notes are in the chord shape. This piece is not to difficult but there are some good stretches and a couple of bar chords.
These incredible exercises for the right hand are a must for everybody who does fingerpicking. I tabbed these out and simplified the left hand chords because this exercise is for the right hand, so my philosophy is to keep the left hand simple so we can focus on our right hand. The G7/B chord is changed from it’s original fingering to an easier one. The key to this exercise is repetition, but after a while your left hand can cramp up from doing the same chords, so on each exercise I put in an alternate fingering for the left hand so the student can switch chords when the hand gets tired. Notice No. 1 and No. 1a. The alternate is an Am and E chord. Be strict on the right hand fingering to get the most out of these exercises. P means thumb, i is index, m is middle and a is the ring finger. To get the most out of these exercises play each one with a metronome. Start very slow and then work the speed up.
This is a great piece to develop good classical right hand technique. We are using triplets, or a group of three notes per beat. Play the first of the three notes with your thumb (p), the next note with your index (i) and the last note with your middle (m) finger of your right hand. This works very well for the first and last section of this piece. When you strum a chord, to get the proper sound, use your middle finger of your right hand. I hold my hand close to the string and extend my middle finger to strum the chord, without using my arm or wrist for the strum.
This piece is played rubato, or at your own speed. To get the first and last sections up to speed, I don’t think of p, i, m, with my right hand. Instead it’s like I pick the string almost all at once, like I’m plucking a chord. However, I play it like a slightly slow strum, or what is called a roll. This is a technique used to play incredibly fast with your right hand in classical and flamenco music.
The right hand technique is the same on this piece as it is on Flamenco Study 1. With the left hand I start the first measure with an E chord. In the next measure I move the E shape up one fret, like an F chord except without the bar. Strings 1, 2, and 6 ring open. The next measure I move the E shape up 2 more frets, like a G chord without the bar, and then I move the shape back to the second fret and then end the phrase with the E chord in the first fret. As you strum this chord progression you will recognize it as a common progression used in flamenco style music.
This great composition by Bach is a great flat pick exercise but this arrangement, which can be played with a flat pick, is arranged for finger style. I used a technique popular with fingerstyle artists that plays the melody in an upper position on the neck except for notes that can be played open. Play the open notes on open strings while playing the fingered notes in an upper position gives your guitar a harp like quality. This piece is medium to advanced difficulty.
This fingerstyle piece has been a favorite of my private students and audiences that I have performed it for. It entails right hand fingerpicking patterns, and left hand hammer ons, pull offs, and slides. Once you start getting the pattern you will find it lends itself quite well to speed.
When it comes to classical music my favorite composer is Bach. Minuet in A minor is a rare transcription for guitar but as you play this you will love it and wonder why it’s not played on guitar more often. It starts out a little like Stairway to Heaven played sideways.
Moderato is a great little classical piece that’s not to hard to play. The first two notes are a pull-off. Students tend to rush the rhythm so focus on keeping the eighth notes right in time. In measures 2 and 3 I form the chords to help me finger the piece. After you do that it’s easy to see when to form the A minor and the E.
This Christmas song is one of my favorites. It’s an easy arrangement played in first position using basic chords, but very pretty. I’ve played it in first position for the demo but I like to capo it on the 3rd fret.
The right hand plays a variation on a Travis finger style pattern through the whole piece. It’s a great exercise for the right hand that stands on it’s own as a great sounding solo piece. The left hand plays chords through the whole piece. The first chord is an E minor in the 7th position. Starting with the bar chord I lift up my bar so that strings 1 and 2 ring open. Then move the shape down two frets so it forms a D chord in the 5th position with the same strings ringing open. For the next measure move down two more frets to a C in 3rd position and then move to the 2cd fret for a B. This is a very poplular sound used in contemporary music.
This is an advanced fingerstyle arrangement that features natural and artificial harmonics and jazz harmonies and chords. The first section uses harmonics. The natural harmonics are tabbed where you play the harmonic. The artificial harmonics are marked with a * and are tabbed where you finger the note with your left hand. With your right hand use your index finger to fret the harmonic 12 frets above the fretted note and play the string with your thumb. I play this piece often in my performances and it is always well received.
Here is a pretty and simple arrangement of Silent Night, classical style. Try to form the chord for each measure, it will make this piece sound smoother.
A simple little bluegrass tune like this (you may know at as “I’m Bringing Home A Baby Bumble Bee”) can be a lot of fun when we add chord strums where there is space in the melody. In this arrangement I added a down up stroke on each chord. The notation is very accurate on how many strings to play on the up stroke, but that is just for the notation. On the down stroke you want to be accurate. If it’s a five string chord, strum from the fifth string down. But on the up stroke just strum two or three strings. Have fun.
A fun solo blues piece I play with a flatpick. I do, however, also use my middle finger to pick some notes. In measure 9, when we skip a string, I play the 3rd string with my pick and the 1st string with my middle finger. This is a great technique to learn and will help you execute passages where you skip strings. Watch the slurs in this piece, which will either be pull offs or hammer ons. In measure 10 I slide into the first note with my second finger. Measure 11 is the same as measure 10 just 2 frets down.
This is a bluegrass standard that’s great for flatpicking. In measure 1 play the A (1st string 5th fret) with your second finger and the G# (1st string 4th fret) with your first finger. In measure 3 hold your notes down as you finger them and you will form the Bm chord. If you form the chords when possible on this piece you will be more efficient.
Flatpick Number 1 looks scarier than it really is. Start with an E minor chord and play and alternating bass pattern that starts with playing the 6th string, strum, 5th string, strum. After you get comfortable with this change it to 6 sting, strum down and up, 5th string, strum down and up. After you are comfortable with this add a hammer on when you play the 5th string. Lift your finger off the 5th string, play it open, and then hammer your finger on and follow it with a down strum and then up. When you can do this technique you are ready to play this piece.
Hay In My Shoes is as scary as it looks and is for advanced players who want to learn some blazing flatpick lines. Learn one phase at a time, starting slow with a metronome and build up speed. Eventually you will be able to tie it all together.
Another fun little flat pick solo where the chords are added in. This is a very catchy tune and very fun to play fast.
Music Reading Ex.
Here we have the notes on the 1st string in the 1st position and exercise to go with them. To learn to read music practice reading as much as possible. That is why there are so many exercises on this page.
Here we have the notes on the 2cd string in the 1st position and exercise to go with them.
Here we have the notes on the 1st and 2cd string in the 1st position and exercise to go with them.
Here we have the notes on the 1st and 2cd string and rests in the 1st position and exercise to go with them.
Here we have the notes on the 3rd strings in the 1st position and exercise to go with them.
Here we have the notes on the 1st, 2cd, and 3rd strings in the 1st position and exercise to go with them.
Here we have the notes on the 4th string in the 1st position and exercise to go with them.
Here we have the notes on strings 1-4 in the 1st position and exercises to go with them.
Here we have the notes on strings 1-4 with key signatures in the 1st position and exercises to go with them.
Here we have the notes on strings 1-5 with eighth notes in the 1st position and exercises to go with them.
Every musician should know the C major scale. Memorize the pattern and memorize the names of the notes. The C major scale uses natural note from C to the next octave C. The first note is C, second is D, third-E, and so on.