Rock Lead Guitar (Guitar Lesson)

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Matt Brown

Rock Lead Guitar

Matt Brown demonstrates lead guitar techniques using Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" as an example.

Taught by Matt Brown in Rock Guitar with Matt Brown seriesLength: 29:24Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (02:08) Introduction Matt kicks off lesson 15 by playing a portion of the solo section to Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion." In this lesson, he will use Joe Perry's original recorded from Toys in the Attic to tie together many of the lead guitar concepts that he has discussed in the lesson series. The "Sweet Emotion" solo contains repeating licks, string skipping licks, hybrid scales, and string bends. All of these concepts have been discussed in past lessons.

Matt will also explain how to interject your own creativity and artistic voice into the solo section. By weaving improvised licks around Perry's memorable recorded lines, a unique new spin on the solo is produced.
Chapter 2: (04:23) Sweet Emotion Solo Ear Training

Ear Training

Throughout the lesson, Matt will not give a fret-by-fret demonstration of each lick. Instead, you will be forced to practice your ear training skills. Matt will play each phrase a couple of times at the recorded tempo and at a significantly slower tempo. Do your best to transcribe as much of the solo as possible by ear and by watching his hands. Feel free to rewind the video as many times as necessary when transcribing each lick. Don't worry if this task is beyond your current level at this point! Tablature and standard notation to the original solo are included under the "Supplemental Content" tab. Refer to the tablature if you get hung up on a certain lick.

Lick 1 (Repeating Lick)

The original recorded solo begins with a simple repeating lick. This lick consists of a double stop played in a funky, syncopated rhythm. Remember that playing a guitar solo is similar to telling a story. A story or solo must have a logical beginning, middle, and end. Joe Perry begins with a simple, catchy idea. Simple ideas always make the best introductions. Solos that begin with insane shredding can be much more difficult to digest. This funky, syncopated, double stop lick grabs the audience's attention and prepares it for the fast, wailing licks that follow.

The double stop used in the lick contains the notes D and G#(Ab). When played together, these notes can imply several different chords. For example, these notes are found within the E7, Bb7, and Bo7 chords. These chords are just a few of the chords in the musical language that contain these notes. Try to think of some other chords that contain these notes on your own. In the case of "Sweet Emotion," the lick is played over a bluesy riff that loosely implies an E7 chord.

Practice Time

After you attempt to transcribe the licks with the first four measures, check your work with Matt's transcription listed under the "Supplemental Content" tab. Spend some time practicing the first four measures along with a metronome before advancing to the next scene. Begin your practice session with the metronome set to a slow tempo such as 60-70 beats per minute.

Note: Matt also taught this lick in a recent entry for the JamPlay Lick / Riff Library. This brief lesson will be added to the site in the near future.
Chapter 3: (03:10) Measures 5 & 6 Listen to Matt play the lick several times before you try to figure it out on guitar. Try to sing it in your head. Then, rewind the video once again and begin to transcribe these measures. Check your work with the transcription provided in "Supplemental Content." Once you've made any necessary corrections, spend some time practicing these measures. Practice them very slowly with a metronome set around 60-65 beats per minute. Gradually increase the tempo by four beat increments as you become comfortable with each setting.

Scale Patterns

The licks in measures 5-6 are played out of the tried and true minor pentatonic box pattern. The pattern is played in 12th position in the key of E minor.

Note: Tablature and standard notation to all scale patterns discussed in this lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.
Chapter 4: (02:38) Measures 7 & 8 Combining Scales

Throughout the solo, Joe Perry mixes the major and minor forms of the E pentatonic scale to generate bluesy sounding licks. Occasionally he throws in some licks that could be analyzed as portions of the E Dorian and E Mixolydian modes. However, these passages can also be analyzed as simple combinations of the major and minor pentatonic scales. The notes G# and G natural are frequently used together in a single lick. Also, notice how the note C# from the major pentatonic scale gets thrown into the mix during these measures.

Hybrid scale licks are commonly used in almost all styles of music. Listen at 00:48 as Matt provides some sample improvised licks that blend the E minor and E major pentatonic scales. Hybrid scale licks are especially common when playing over simple, bluesy riffs or chord progressions that contain both the minor and major third of the key. The "Sweet Emotion" solo riff contains both of these notes (G and G#).

Transcribing / Practice Time

Listen several times as Matt plays measures 7 and 8 at 01:36. He begins by playing them at tempo. At 02:16, the lick is played with a metronome set to 80 beats per minute. Transcribe these measures. Then, compare them with Matt's transcription. After making your corrections, begin to practice along with a metronome. Once you can play these measures comfortably at around 75 beats per minute, feel free to move on. You can return to this scene later to perfect the lick.
Chapter 5: (05:38) Measures 9-12 A. Measures 9-10

Up to this point, the solo has primarily been played out of the 12th position patterns for the E minor and E major pentatonic scales. In measure 9, the solo leaps to the first position patterns for these scales. Now, they are played one octave lower. Leaping between two different octaves of a pattern is quite common in rock and blues solos. Jumping between octaves is an excellent way to quickly grab the listener's attention. This technique is used in the solo to "Alive" by Pearl Jam. A transcription to this solo can be found in Phase 3. Also, check out Jimi Hendrix's solos in "Voodoo Chile."

Octave Displacement

At 00:56, Matt demonstrates measures 9 and 10. Measure 9 begins with a musical technique referred to as "octave displacement." Normally, you would expect the E note that begins the lick to be played at the 2nd fret of the fourth string. Instead, the E note is displaced one octave lower. Consequently, the E note and the Bb note that follows are not played within the same octave.

B. Measures 11-12

Watch and listen as Matt demonstrates these measures at 03:18. The lick is repeated at a slower tempo at 04:42 to make the transcription process slightly easier.

At the beginning of measure 11, the solo jumps back up to the upper octave of the pentatonic scale. An octave displacement lick begins this phrase as well. The open D note on the fourth string is played instead of the D note played at the 12th fret.

E Major Blues Scale

The lick in these measures can be analyzed as part of the major blues scale. It can also be analyzed as a combination of the E major and E minor pentatonic scales. The major blues scale adds a b3 to the major pentatonic scale. Compare the spelling of E major pentatonic and the E major blues scale listed below.

E major pentatonic: E, F#, G#, B, C#, E
E major blues scale: E, F#, G, G#, B, C#, E

During these measures, the E major blues scale is played out of ninth position pattern. Matt demonstrates the E major pentatonic scale in this position at 03:40. The major blues scale with the additional G note is demonstrated at 04:12. Compare and contrast the sound of these two scales.
Chapter 6: (05:31) Solo Ending Matt begins this scene by playing through the final phrases in the solo. As you listen to his performance, what key features of the solo do you notice? What scales are being used? Are any licks repeated? Are there any wide melodic leaps?

Repeating Segments

Throughout the final measures, a repeating two measure idea occurs. Joe Perry plays a memorized lick in the first bar of each two bar segment. Then, he improvises during the second bar of each segment. This two bar segment continues to repeat until the end of the solo.

Segment 1

Work through one segment at a time as you transcribe the final portion of the solo. Once you figure out how to play the initial repeating lick, you are halfway home! Watch and listen as Matt plays through the first two bar segment at 01:52.

Segment 2

The next two bars are demonstrated at 02:12. The improvised lick features a trill between the minor and major third of the key (G and G#). It also features some wide interval leaps and string skipping. Notice how Matt slightly lifts his right hand from the bridge when playing these skips.

Segment 3

The third segment is played at 02:38. Once again, the improvised lick contains a trill between the major and minor third.

Segment 4

Matt demonstrates the final segment at 03:15. The song fades out at this point in the solo. Listen to live recordings of the song on Youtube for some ideas of how to logically conclude the song. Compare and contrast the way in which Aerosmith concludes the song in each performance. The repeating two bar segment is used as an effective cue to alert the other band members that the song is beginning to wind down.

Recorded Solo Performance

The entire recorded solo is demonstrated along with a metronome at 03:47. This will provide you with an opportunity to hear how all of the licks fit together.
Chapter 7: (05:51) Make it Your Own When covering a classic guitar solo that is recognized by many people, Matt almost always takes the same approach. He plays the most memorable licks from the recorded solo. Then, he fills in the gaps between these licks with improvised material. Joe Perry takes a similar approach to the solo when he performs it live with Aerosmith.

Matt typically begins the "Sweet Emotion" solo with the repeating double stop licks. Then, he improvises until he reaches the repeating two bar segments that conclude the solo. During each segment, he plays the repeating lick in the first bar. Then, he improvises in the next bar. This two bar alternating pattern continues until the end of the solo. Watch at 03:00 as Matt plays through the entire solo section using this approach. Use this approach when playing your own version of the solo.

Preview of Next Lesson

In the next several lessons, Matt will begin to explain the music theory behind various chord progressions. Music theory will be used to determine which scales work over a given chord progression. First, Matt will explain how to play a solo over diatonic progressions in the major, natural minor, and harmonic minor tonalities. Then, he'll explain how to improvise over non-diatonic progressions. As the series progresses, scale and chord relationships will be supplemented with solos from JamPlay's Phase 3 area. In the next lesson, the solo section Candlebox's "Far Behind" is used as an example. The chord progression under this solo is completely diatonic to the key of G major.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

panama400panama400 replied

Thanks! I got a little confused because in the key of A major Minor (seems common so far) the same "riff" goes from the c c# to the A. So in the case of E I was going from G G# A then end on E, but everything starts sounding similar.

panama400panama400 replied

This solo is in the key of E major/minor blues scale, why does it appear to emphasise the A note. Your lessons are great, I have recommended this site to anyone who asks were I learned. Along with a bunch of books.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Glad you're getting a lot out of the lessons! Well, in the keys of E major / E minor, the fourth (A) is often used as a tension tone that resolves down to the third (G in E minor or G# for a major tonality). In the case of this solo, since the riff underneath is blues-y, both the G and G# notes can be used effectively....Whether you're playing a solo, melody, chord progression, etc. the idea of tension and release is really important...No tension = no drama = uninteresting music.

3dw1n3dw1n replied

this is a good lesson !!! with this lesson i can introduce a nw pahase on my playing !!! LEAD GUITAR!!!

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Thanks a lot! I'm glad you're liking the lessons! I'm going to film some new ones here next week. I'm mainly going to cover rhythm guitar techniques this time around, but I am planning to do two more lead guitar oriented lessons.

dewguitardewguitar replied

Hey Matt, I've really enjoyed your lessons. If I could request a lesson on tri-tones from anyone on JamPlay - I would request you (hope you do a tri-tone lesson soon). Nothing against the other teachers that is - I just like the way you break notes and scales down and then explain them in detail. Thanks.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

well, I'm sure that's a topic that I'll cover eventually, since it's pretty important. I'm not sure when I'll get to it, but I'll definitely make a note of that the next time I film some lessons. Thanks for watching and for the great suggestion!

3dw1n3dw1n replied

Thanks matt !!!

obldaveobldave replied


mattbrownmattbrown replied

Right on! Perfect timing! I hope this lesson made the solo section a little bit easier for ya.

flyrerflyrer replied

Great lessons Matt

Rock Guitar with Matt Brown

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Chuck Berry among others pioneered the style of rock and roll in the 1950's. Today, rock and roll remains the most popular genre of music. Over the years the genre has progressed & spawned many sub-genres: soft rock, classic rock, punk rock, and more. Dive into this Phase 2 set of lessons to become a master of rock.

Proper PracticingLesson 1

Proper Practicing

Learn how to get the most out of your time when practicing.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Introduction to LeadLesson 2

Introduction to Lead

Matt Brown discusses some of the fundamentals to playing lead.

Length: 15:41 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Figuring Out NotesLesson 3

Figuring Out Notes

Matt shows you the basics of figuring out any note on the guitar.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
ScalesLesson 4


Learn the basic minor, natural, and major scales. Quite a few techniques & ideas start with scales - they're an essential building block.

Length: 34:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Major ScalesLesson 5

Major Scales

In this lesson, Matt takes you through the major scales & helps you to understand how they can be used.

Length: 20:25 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Natural Minor ScalesLesson 6

Natural Minor Scales

Matt teaches the most common natural minor scale patterns.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
BendingLesson 7


Learn & master the most popular types of bends.

Length: 27:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sweep Picking & RakesLesson 8

Sweep Picking & Rakes

Learn sweep picking and string rakes.

Length: 18:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Solo TechniquesLesson 9

Solo Techniques

Learn various techniques to use when improvising / soloing.

Length: 12:51 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Tuning DownLesson 10

Tuning Down

Matt explains the most effective way to tune your guitar down.

Length: 7:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Barre ChordsLesson 11

Barre Chords

Learn how to establish finger independence and a few tips and tricks with barre chords.

Length: 37:18 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rock LicksLesson 12

Rock Licks

In this lesson, Matt Brown introduces a rock lick and shows how several famous players have modified it.

Length: 19:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rock SequencesLesson 13

Rock Sequences

In this lesson Matt teaches some crucial rock sequences. He also explains how these sequences can be integrated in to your playing.

Length: 34:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
String SkippingLesson 14

String Skipping

Matt Brown focuses on string skipping technique. He provides several exercises designed to improve this aspect of your playing.

Length: 33:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
IntervalsLesson 15


Lesson 15 in Matt's rock series is all about intervals.

Length: 34:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rock Lead GuitarLesson 16

Rock Lead Guitar

Matt Brown demonstrates lead guitar techniques using Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" as an example.

Length: 29:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Solo Using Diatonic ScalesLesson 17

Solo Using Diatonic Scales

Matt Brown explains which scales can be used when playing a solo over a diatonic progression in a major key. As an example, he teaches the solo section to Candlebox's song "Far Behind."

Length: 33:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Diatonic Natural Minor Lesson 18

Diatonic Natural Minor

This lesson covers the natural minor scale and diatonic natural minor progressions. Matt uses the solo section to "Stairway to Heaven" as an example.

Length: 24:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Right Hand TechniqueLesson 19

Right Hand Technique

In lesson 19 Matt provides instruction on developing right hand skills including string skipping.

Length: 26:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Non-Diatonic ProgressionsLesson 20

Non-Diatonic Progressions

In lesson 20, Matt discusses chord progressions that don't follow a diatonic tonality.

Length: 29:07 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Harmonic MinorLesson 21

Harmonic Minor

Matt begins to discuss and demonstrate the harmonic minor scale.

Length: 29:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Improvising Over Harmonic MinorLesson 22

Improvising Over Harmonic Minor

In lesson 22, Matt continues his discussion of the harmonic minor tonality.

Length: 14:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sweet Child O' MineLesson 23

Sweet Child O' Mine

In lesson 23, Matt takes a look at the solo section for the song "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Length: 19:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
TodayLesson 24


Matt will be taking a look at the solo section from the live version of the Smashing Pumpkins song "Today".

Length: 7:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Back In Black SoloLesson 25

Back In Black Solo

Matt Brown reviews and discusses the solo section to AC/DC's hit "Back In Black".

Length: 9:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
BrotherLesson 26


In lesson 26, Matt covers the solo section from the Alice in Chains song "Brother".

Length: 9:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Matt's Rock ManifestoLesson 27

Matt's Rock Manifesto

Matt Brown discusses lead guitarists, what makes a good solo, and tips for your own lead playing.

Length: 41:06 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Legato Playing ExercisesLesson 28

Legato Playing Exercises

Matt Brown teaches a number of exercises aimed at improving your legato playing technique.

Length: 37:16 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Right Hand ExercisesLesson 29

Right Hand Exercises

Matt Brown demonstrates a few exercises to build skill and speed in your right hand.

Length: 15:06 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
String Skipping EtudeLesson 30

String Skipping Etude

Matt Brown teaches Heitor Villa-Lobos' 1st Etude as a lesson in string skipping.

Length: 38:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Three Octave ScalesLesson 31

Three Octave Scales

Matt Brown demonstrates how to play three octave versions of the minor pentatonic and the major scales in all 12 keys.

Length: 16:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Diatonic IntervalsLesson 32

Diatonic Intervals

Matt Brown demonstrates how to play all seven of the diatonic intervals within the framework of a horizontal major scale.

Length: 23:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Diatonic 7th ArpeggiosLesson 33

Diatonic 7th Arpeggios

Matt Brown discuss diatonic arpeggios as a theory lesson as well as demonstrating the technique.

Length: 9:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Diatonic 7ths Across the NeckLesson 34

Diatonic 7ths Across the Neck

Matt Brown explains how to play the diatonic seventh chords of the major scale. Similar to lesson 32, this lesson takes a horizontal approach to the fretboard.

Length: 10:46 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Solo Ideas #1Lesson 35

Solo Ideas #1

Matt Brown teaches a progression and accompanying solo to demonstrate ideas for creating your own.

Length: 21:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Solo Ideas #2Lesson 36

Solo Ideas #2

Matt Brown takes a look at another chord progression and solo.

Length: 17:29 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Legato Playing IdeasLesson 37

Legato Playing Ideas

In lesson 37 of the Rock Series, Matt Brown demonstrates and talks about legato playing ideas.

Length: 21:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rhythm ConceptsLesson 38

Rhythm Concepts

Matt Brown switches gears in lesson 38 to start talking about rhythm concepts for rock playing.

Length: 27:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Compositional TechniquesLesson 39

Compositional Techniques

Matt Brown discusses some often used techniques to build effective rock compositions.

Length: 17:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Creative Chord VoicingsLesson 40

Creative Chord Voicings

Matt Brown shows off some ways to add some creativity and originality to your rock chord voicings.

Length: 11:59 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
Lead ApproachLesson 41

Lead Approach

Matt Brown takes another look at his approach to soloing. He demonstrates ideas you can use in your own playing.

Length: 12:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lead Approach #2Lesson 42

Lead Approach #2

Matt Brown adds practice to his lead approach by giving you another chord progression to solo over.

Length: 7:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lead Approach #3Lesson 43

Lead Approach #3

Matt Brown has another chord progression and solo exercise to go over in this lesson on lead approach.

Length: 10:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
String Skipping RevisitedLesson 44

String Skipping Revisited

Matt Brown takes another look at string skipping. He breaks down some key areas of Matteo Carcassi's Allegro as an exercise.

Length: 16:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Matt Brown

About Matt Brown View Full Biography Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."

Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.

Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."

Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.

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