Introduction to neoclassical guitar licks lead guitar lesson

Welcome to this introduction to neoclassical guitar licks. Neoclassical is certainly a niche genre of music but in my opinion, it’s a pretty cool one. I love the sound and it can be a lot of fun to play. It’s a genre ruled by the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen. It can be described as a form of metal that’s influenced by the sounds of classical music. In this guitar lesson I’m going to show you some neoclassical guitar licks that you can move all around the fretboard and play in any key. These licks may seem a bit tricky to some at first. Don’t worry. With a bit of persistence and practice, any guitar player can add these licks or modifications of them into their lick library.

neoclassical guitarist yngwie malmsteen

Neoclassical guitar licks lesson

There’s one thing that I would like to point out before we get started with the lesson proper. All notes in these licks are picked. There’s zero hammer ons, pull offs or any form of legato used whatsoever. That’s not to say that these techniques can’t work in this style. It just so happens that the licks I’m showing you are picking based.

These licks are ideal for those who use a picking approach to lead guitar, those who want to develop and improve their picking ability and for those looking to add some variation and diversification to their lead guitar playing.

Neoclassical guitar lick 1

This first lick is in the key of G minor and uses the harmonic minor scale which is the best scale to use for licks such as this. It’s based around the root and 7th degrees of the scale with the rest of the notes descending through part of the scale.

Neoclassical guitar lick 2

This one is a little different to the previous 2 examples that you’ve seen so far. Nothing particularly fancy is going on here. Just raw alternative picking in an isolated spot on the fretboard using an order of notes that sounds very erm, neoclassicalish. As you can guess by now, the lick is using the harmonic minor scale and this particular example is in the key of E minor. A very easy one to move around. Sounds good on every string too.

An extra bonus lick

I’ve classed this one as an extra bonus lick because it’s based on the third lick in the list rather than being its very own entity. This again is in E minor and uses the harmonic minor scale. I’m not going into too much detail here because you’ll see what’s going on fairly quickly when you try it out. All we are doing really is descending through the whole scale on 1 string using the same pattern as we used in the previous example. Sounds pretty cool when executed correctly.

Every lick that I have given you in this guitar lesson relies predominantly on 16th notes. Accuracy and clarity are king. Don’t try to play these things really fast right away because you’re setting yourself up for a big failure and a whole lot of frustration. Start nice and slow and then gradually build up the speed over time only increasing the tempo when you can play the licks 100 percent accurately.

These licks are ripe and ready for you to manipulate and make your own. You could cut them up and just use parts of them, you could lengthen parts of the or even develop them even further. We’ve already seen an example of how to do this with the bonus neoclassical lick but now let’s develop lick 3 again but this time in a more subtle way.

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Lick 3 with a subtle change

There you have it. I’ve shown you some great sounding neoclassical guitar licks to use as you please. Knowing the licks is just half the battle though. You also have to know when and where to use them. Genre wise, all of these licks obviously work well in anything with a neoclassical feel as well as different types of metal and when appropriate, rock and other genres.

You could use them in guitar solos easily or you could use them to open a solo or to bridge things together. You could even do some experimenting in intros. Just play around and experiment and see where you think they fit into your music. 

Do they work in certain areas of the fretboard with palm muting? Does performing them in a non-guitar solo context work? Do they work well with a clean tone in a calmer context as well as with distortion? These are all questions that are best answered by you and your guitar. I’ve given you a starting point and a set of ideas. Now you have to go and make music. You don’t have to use the final bar of licks 1 and 2 for example. You could do something similar to make it more yours or even something completely different.

Moving these licks to different keys

One Final thing that I haven’t covered yet is moving the licks around the fretboard. I know many of you will be able to do that already but for those who can’t do that yet, it’s very easy indeed to do. All you need is a basic understanding of the notes on the fretboard. 

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If you’re a person that’s actually read the contents of the lesson and not just looked at the lovely TAB, you’ll know that I’ve told you the key that every one of the examples is in and what scale was used. All you need to do is locate the root note in the lick and shift the lick so that the root note changes to that of your desired key. For example, the 3rd lick is shown in the key of E minor but that can easily be shifted to say, G minor. The root note of E can be found on the 9th fret on the G string which is the first note played. Simply shift everything up so that you’re starting at the 12th fret which is a G and there you have it, you’re now in G minor. Easy.

What next?

If you enjoyed the introduction to neoclassical licks lesson then you may also like this lesson on the Alberti Bass. That lesson will help you to further develop your neoclassical sound and good news. It’s very easy.

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