Guitar harmonies in hard rock and heavy metal are a great way to add depth and melody to a song. Some bands that are known for using guitar harmonies as part of their style are Thin Lizzy, Boston, Stryper and Iron Maiden just to name a few. When done well, just like a good vocal harmony, guitar harmonies can make a simple melody more effective and memorable than it would be without the harmony. Guitar harmonies work just the same as vocal harmonies do. One guitar will play the main melody as a second guitar usually plays a third or fifth following the melody. Often the lead melody is the higher in pitch of the two. In the following example I play a simple melody with variations over a basic A minor C major chord pattern. The solo parts are in the key of A natural minor (Aeolian scale mode). The lead harmony starts on a A note and is the higher of the two. The lower harmony is playing the 3rd and begins on a C note.
Note: Each of the guitar harmonies were recorded live. That is to say, the playing of both parts were video taped as each was recorded.
Guitar jam loop used for this lesson is available here, “AC Simple Jam Loop”
Guitar Lesson Tablature
Note: The harmony solo only starts here in the middle of the 4th measure.
Note: The solo really starts here. It’s very exiting!
Note: Look out! This one has a way cool bend in the 3rd measure!
Note: OK! Now we’re going places. In the 3rd measure is the beginning of the end for notes below the 12th fret.
Note: Now with some feeling!
Note: Gotta love harmonizing those bends!
Note: Now the end with a single note.
Guitar Lesson Notes
- Learn each harmony part and practice it along with the video examples that use the opposite harmony part.
- Take notice of the intervals between the harmonized notes..
- Learn the rhythm guitar part.
- The main difference between vocal and guitar harmonies is that a vocal harmony will usually be a three or more parts while guitars are usually only two part.