In this video guitar lesson I’m going to show you how to add some percussive sounds into your lead guitar solos. You will hear this type of percussive guitar technique used by guitar greats like Steve Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Hendrix, and many more.
(Video Guitar Lesson)
Muting Strings for Percussive Lead Guitar
The trick to adding more percussive sounds to your lead guitar playing is to mute the strings surrounding the note you are playing. So if I was playing a note on the 3rd string with my first finger I would mute the surrounding strings in this way.
My 1st finger would extend up a little to lightly touch the 4th string. I call this the “finger extension mute”.
My 1st finger would also very lightly touch the 2nd and 1st strings. I call this the “lazy finger mute”. Where your 1st finger is being a little lazy and falling over on the next higher strings.
Then if you strike the top 4 strings with your pick you will only hear 1 note. But you will also hear the “thuds” from the muted 4th, 2nd and 1st strings. So you will hear a much more percussive note than if you just picked the 3rd string by itself.
When doing this same percussive lead guitar technique with other fingers you may also mute the surrounding strings with other available fingers. For instance if I was playing a note on the first string with my pinky, I might touch the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings with any of my other fingers that are available.
In the picture below I’m actually just laying my 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingers lightly across the strings. So I would strike 4 strings, but only hear 1 percussive note.
B Minor Pentatonic Scale
In the video guitar lesson above all of my examples came out of a basic B Minor Pentatonic Scale. For more on reading guitar scale charts check out my Intro to Guitar Scales lesson.
Try playing this scale but muting the surrounding strings as you do. Aim for striking 3 to 4 strings for each note you are playing. At first you will probably hear some extra stay open string sounds, but with as you get more comfortable with this technique it will get cleaner.
Funky B7 Bass & Drums Jam Track
Here is the jam track I was playing along with at the beginning of the video guitar lesson. Use the B Minor Pentatonic scale above to improvise with the jam track but really try and incorporate these percussive lead guitar sounds.
Really over do it at first as you are getting used to this guitar technique. But then out in the real world of playing lead guitar solos, just remember this is like a spice. Some is good, too much will spoil the dish.
There are some other percussive guitar techniques that you might incorporate into your lead guitar playing. But this will give you a good start.