How to Play Low-Note and High-Note Melodies on the Guitar - dummies

By Hal Leonard Corporation, Jon Chappell, Mark Phillips, Desi Serna

For some reason, all traditional guitar method books start with the guitar’s top strings and work their way down to the low strings. But in the true rebellious spirit of rock and roll, let’s start at the bottom.

The impetus for so many of the world’s greatest melodies, riffs, and rock rhythm figures have low-born origins (from a guitar perspective, anyway). Think of classic riffs — “Smoke on the Water,” “Iron Man,” “Day Tripper” — and how many of them are low-note riffs.

In that spirit, try this example, which is a low-note melody, in the style of a classic-rock riff. Note how it almost revels in its own subterranean girth. Spinal Tap would be proud.


Here’s another melody, more nimble than the first one. This one moves in steady eighth notes and features some unexpected changes in direction. It also contains melodic skips, which in this case is an arpeggio because it outlines the notes of an A minor chord.


Lead playing typically exploits the upper registers of the guitar, where melodic material is most naturally situated. Before you get really high up on the neck, play this melodic example to hear the guitar’s upper registers cut through the rhythm section’s din.


If your guitar sounds twangy instead of smooth and creamy, try increasing the distortion factor of your sound.