Making Music with Marshall

creating complementary guitar parts

Posted: 10 May 2022

Now that you have explored different scale positions, song structures and the CAGED system, we should be able to pull all these ideas together to start composing our own complementary guitar parts.

Read time - 2 mins

If you have two guitarists in your band (like many do), then there isn’t that much point in you both playing exactly the same parts all the time, as this can get repetitive and should be used sparingly.

So, how do we get around this?

Using the concepts explored in our previous articles, you should be able to create some fantastic variations of chords and scales that you’ve already learned and use them to come up with your own complementary guitar parts.

Our best tool for achieving this? Our good old friend, the CAGED system.

The CAGED system will help you to identify new voicings for your chords. Voicings are the same chords played in different positions on the neck to give them a ‘fresh’ sound, instead of playing the same root position chords all the time. For example, if one of you is playing a ‘C’ chord in root position, the other could play a ‘C’ using a different ‘shape’ from the CAGED system to give a different voicing.

As you can hear, this gives a more intricate sound, as the chords are made up of the same notes in different octaves.

Once you feel ready, this same concept can be applied to lead lines and arpeggios. Try breaking up your favourite chords and playing them one note at a time to create your own melodies across the fretboard.

So now you should be able to explain an effective approach to composing your own complementary guitar parts. Keep in mind that whilst these guidelines will keep you in the right ‘ballpark’, if it sounds right to your ear then there is no reason to not try it out. Experiment with different positions on the fretboard and see what you can come up with!