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Learning Lead Breaks After Playing Rhythm For Years

I have been playing rhythm guitar for years and I now want to learn some lead breaks. Where do I begin?

Answered by Dan Miller

For guitar players who have a fairly solid rhythm background and are now interested in learning how to play guitar solos, we recommend that you start by learning the chord-melody style of lead guitar playing, or what is commonly known as "Carter Family style."

This style of playing, named after the technique used by Mother Maybelle Carter, combines a melody line played on the bass strings of the guitar with a chordal strum on the treble strings. Although Mother Maybelle Carter used a thumb pick in combination with a fingers, her's is a technique that can be easily approximated with a flatpick. This style successfully combines rhythm with lead playing and can be a logical transitional step for a rhythm player to use in order branch out and start learning lead breaks. This style of playing also lends itself well to solo singers who are accompanying themselves on the guitar because the rhythm never fully drops out when you are playing your lead break.

There are several instruction items available on the market which teach this style of guitar playing. These instructional items are as follows:

  • Easy Guitar Solos by Dan Huckabee (one hour cassette and tab book)
  • Flatpicking Guitar Country Style by Eric Thompson (video with tab book)
  • Easy Gospel Solos by Dan Huckabee (video with tab book)
  • Basic Country Flatpicking by Dix Bruce (video with tab book)

If you want to explore both Carter-style, some bluegrass rhythm, and start flatpicking some fiddle tunes, we recommend one of these books by Joe Carr:

Last updated by Dan Miller May 11, 2008.

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