5 Simple Steps To Playing Awe-Inspiring Shred Guitar Licks

Author: Tom Hess

Author: Tom Hess

Want to learn how to play killer shred guitar licks? Don’t commit the same mental error as most guitarists and think that you only need to ‘play faster’. This approach will only lead you to playing fast, but uncreative licks. To play licks that demand attention from anyone listening to you play, you must combine together speed with an innovative use of the notes in your guitar phrases.

I am now going to show you an effective approach that will quickly transform your shred guitar licks into highly inspiring phrases (without having to ‘play faster’). Start by checking out this shred guitar demonstration video below. By doing this, so you will fully integrate the ideas I am about to discuss into your guitar playing (on your own, any time you pick up your guitar). Watch this video now, then come back to this page and study the exercise below.

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Ok, now you have seen the demonstration in the video above and are ready to apply what you have learned.

First Step: You are going to begin this exercise by using a common three string A minor arpeggio. Anytime you play through the pattern, make sure to use a ‘pull off’ when you are descending from the highest note to the second highest note. So for an A minor arpeggio in second inversion, you will pull off from the E on fret number 12 to the C on fret number 8 each time you descend in the pattern. Here is what this looks like:


Second Step: Play the pattern from step one a few times at a speed you are accustomed to.

Third Step: Once you have played the pattern a few times, start repeating the highest two notes in the same manner as I demonstrated in the video above. While playing the A minor second inversion pattern (which is made of the notes A, C and E) the highest notes are E on fret number 12 and C on fret number 8. Repeat these two notes each time you descend in the pattern like so: 12th fret pulls off to 8th fret twice… E > C > E > C. Then continue on with the rest of the arpeggio. As you found out in the video above, this very simple approach alters the entire feel of the arpeggio by changing the contour of the phrase. This makes the lick sound very intense and engaging without actually playing any faster than you were before. See the tab below:


Fourth Step: After making this new variation of the original lick, repeat it several times to get a feel for it. Next, make several more variations of this lick by replacing the highest pitch with a different pitch. For instance, rather than pulling off from E to C, pull off from D to C. Then play through these new variations.

Fifth Step: Play the original arpeggio lick from the first step and combine it together with the new variations you thought up just now. You will notice a MAJOR increase in the tension level and intensity of the new licks when compared to the original one. Look below to see one possibility of what you can come up with:


After completing this exercise, start to combine the concepts discussed with different kinds of licks (scales, tapping, rhythm ideas, etc.) So instead of using only an arpeggio pattern, use any type of lick in its place and integrate the idea of ‘changing contour’ into your playing to make it much more intense. Then begin creating countless shred guitar licks by completing steps two through five of the exercise above. This will not only give you tons of new shred guitar ideas, but make you a much more creative guitar player in the process!

Get even more ideas to improve your shred guitar licks by watching this killer lead guitar phrasing video.

About The Author:

Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, songwriter and a pro guitarist. He uses the best online guitar lessons to train guitar players to reach their musical goals. Go to tomhess.net to get more guitar playing resources, guitar playing eBooks, and to read more guitar playing articles.

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