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Old 01-08-2013, 10:19 PM   #1
vote4chapman
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Newbie Question/Experienced guitarist

Okay...here goes.

I just kind of want to test the waters here on these forums with this series of questions.
I have been playing for about 20 years. I am very very familiar with pentatonic and natural scales. I have been playing them for years. I've looked at a lot of lessons on here about soloing but...

1. Most of the suggestions seem to tell you to just play somewhere else on the fretboard in the same key. I already do that...am i missing something?

2. In learning scales (harmonic minor, chromatic, etc.), they don't seem to apply to any of the music that I actually play. And when I try playing these scales they just sound ridiculous. Does anyone have any links or hints about where and when and where on the fretboard to play, for instance, the chromatic scale when you're in key of A minor?

3. I really mainly focus on utilizing the natural (minor and major) scales. I've been playing these scales forever and I feel like I'm really missing something.

Any help or suggestions would be AMAZING!

Thanks for reading and sorry if I come off sounding like a total moron despite my experience (I don't read music).
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:27 PM   #2
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1. You're doing it right.

2. Many of the regulars on this forum here advise against learning different scales and to be willing to play notes outside the scale because many guitarists think that the notes in the major and minor scales are the only ones they can use. It all boils down to using your ear.

3. You're not missing much. This scales hallabaloo is a product of misinformation about scales and the amplification powers of the Internet. The major and minor scales are more than capable of doing most everything you want them to. Uninformed guitarists think scales are a sort of magic bullet for improving their playing.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:33 PM   #3
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1. Most of the suggestions seem to tell you to just play somewhere else on the fretboard in the same key. I already do that...am i missing something?

A: Yes you can try to use to modes to improvise over the chords, The modes can give you the variety you are looking for, for the Greek modes this may help you:
Maj7 = Lidian, Ionian
m7 = Natural minor, Dorian
7 = Mixolidian if playing on a major key or Phrygiar if playing under a minor key.
m7b5 = Use locrian


2. In learning scales (harmonic minor, chromatic, etc.), they don't seem to apply to any of the music that I actually play. And when I try playing these scales they just sound ridiculous. Does anyone have any links or hints about where and when and where on the fretboard to play, for instance, the chromatic scale when you're in key of A minor?

A: All scales must be used over one chord, try to avoid the use of scales as a global way, try to use one different scale for each one of the chords on the chord progression. Even the harmonic and melodic minor have modes to that you can use.

3. I really mainly focus on utilizing the natural (minor and major) scales. I've been playing these scales forever and I feel like I'm really missing something.

A: Read the above

Hope this helps you.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:52 PM   #4
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The biggest thing that will help you is to study music you like and figure out how those musicians use scales and non-scale tones.

If you're feeling limited by scales, the solution isn't to learn more scales, it's about training your ear to be able to use them more effectively. Learning songs by ear will really help you do this.

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Originally Posted by martmiguel
*Post*
Sorry, but this is terrible advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by martmiguel
A: Yes you can try to use to modes to improvise over the chords, The modes can give you the variety you are looking for, for the Greek modes this may help you:
Maj7 = Lidian, Ionian
m7 = Natural minor, Dorian
7 = Mixolidian if playing on a major key or Phrygiar if playing under a minor key.
m7b5 = Use locrian
Sure, the modes can give you more melodic choices, but many guitar players rely on them to make their solos better when the real problem is that they need to train their ear and study how to write a good melody instead of just randomly playing notes that are "supposed to sound good."

By all means, learn modes if you want to, but they are not the solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by martmiguel
A: All scales must be used over one chord, try to avoid the use of scales as a global way, try to use one different scale for each one of the chords on the chord progression. Even the harmonic and melodic minor have modes to that you can use.
I'm not going to argue against Chord Scale Theory, but using a different scale for every chord change is not only impractical, it'll really make your solo sound scattered.

And I don't mean something like this, in C major: C ionian over C, F lydian over F, D dorian over Dm. What's really going on in this case is just you playing the C major scale. It's the same notes and the tonic is still C, so even if you tell yourself you're playing those modes, you're really not.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vote4chapman
3. I really mainly focus on utilizing the natural (minor and major) scales. I've been playing these scales forever and I feel like I'm really missing something.

Any help or suggestions would be AMAZING!


I'm going to go out on a limb:

How's your ear? Can you hear something and quickly play it?

A trap a lot of people fall into is thinking of a scale as a collection of interchangeable safe notes - you just move around in the shape and you get a given sound. (THis part, I think, of why people are obsessed with modes sometimes. It's a different shape! It must have a different sound!).

Better is to train your ear to recognize that each note of a scale has its own individual relationship with the tonic note, and to learn how to use those relationships. The thing that unlocked that for me was the functional ear trainer, which is a free download from miles.be. Others get there by transcribing - start with really simple melodies, ones your know by heart.

Once you have a good ear, you can listen to a solo you like and hear what the guitarist is really doing - that's how you expand your pallette, not by adding another shape on the fretboard.
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martmiguel
1. Most of the suggestions seem to tell you to just play somewhere else on the fretboard in the same key. I already do that...am i missing something?

A: Yes you can try to use to modes to improvise over the chords, The modes can give you the variety you are looking for, for the Greek modes this may help you:
Maj7 = Lidian, Ionian
m7 = Natural minor, Dorian
7 = Mixolidian if playing on a major key or Phrygiar if playing under a minor key.
m7b5 = Use locrian


2. In learning scales (harmonic minor, chromatic, etc.), they don't seem to apply to any of the music that I actually play. And when I try playing these scales they just sound ridiculous. Does anyone have any links or hints about where and when and where on the fretboard to play, for instance, the chromatic scale when you're in key of A minor?

A: All scales must be used over one chord, try to avoid the use of scales as a global way, try to use one different scale for each one of the chords on the chord progression. Even the harmonic and melodic minor have modes to that you can use.

3. I really mainly focus on utilizing the natural (minor and major) scales. I've been playing these scales forever and I feel like I'm really missing something.

A: Read the above

Hope this helps you.


...LOL

you just keep playing music professionally. just don't teach.
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Old 01-09-2013, 03:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vote4chapman
1. Most of the suggestions seem to tell you to just play somewhere else on the fretboard in the same key. I already do that...am i missing something?


You might be. Why do you feel like you are? What exactly is the problem with your solos?

Also, how is it this is the first time this is coming up with you having played for as long as you have? Do you mostly play covers via TAB and have just started composing?

Quote:
they don't seem to apply to any of the music that I actually play.


What kind of music is that?

Quote:
And when I try playing these scales they just sound ridiculous. Does anyone have any links or hints about where and when and where on the fretboard to play, for instance, the chromatic scale when you're in key of A minor?


Well, without knowing what you mean by "ridiculous" I'm gonna take a wild stab and guess that you don't know how to harmonize to the underlying chords. In that regard, it's not so much about what scale you're playing as how the notes you're selecting lay on top of the chords in the song.

Part of that can be taught. Part of that is also "note choice", as in, playing what you think sounds good. That can't be taught. It comes from you.
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Old 01-09-2013, 11:31 PM   #8
vote4chapman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HotspurJr
I'm going to go out on a limb:

How's your ear? Can you hear something and quickly play it?


Yes...I use some tab to learn stuff that's complicated, but mostly I use ear to figure things out and to find key for improvisation.
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Old 01-09-2013, 11:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarsonStevens
You might be. Why do you feel like you are? What exactly is the problem with your solos?

Also, how is it this is the first time this is coming up with you having played for as long as you have? Do you mostly play covers via TAB and have just started composing?


Variety...something exotic...something that isn't just major or minor in nature...I understand the conjunction of how the different scales piece together along the fretboard. I just notice a lot of different sounds from better guitarists...it's not a speed or accuracy thing...it's just like they know some kind of note structure or scale that I'm not aware of or don't grasp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AeolianWolf
...LOL

you just keep playing music professionally. just don't teach.


too late...but nice smartass comment. i'm a successful rock-band camp teacher. it's how i make a living.

Last edited by vote4chapman : 01-10-2013 at 12:00 AM.
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Old 01-09-2013, 11:57 PM   #10
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so basically, after reading replies...i think what i'm wondering about is how to vary my improvisational lead guitar. sure, i can get great sounds playing what i normally play in say, A minor, but i'm just looking for some variety.
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vote4chapman
too late...but nice smartass comment. i'm a successful rock-band camp teacher. it's how i make a living.

He quoted martmiguel; that comment wasn't directed towards you.
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vote4chapman
too late...but nice smartass comment. i'm a successful rock-band camp teacher. it's how i make a living.


no, miguel shouldn't be teaching music.

you, on the other hand, shouldn't be teaching anything involving reading comprehension.
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vote4chapman
so basically, after reading replies...i think what i'm wondering about is how to vary my improvisational lead guitar. sure, i can get great sounds playing what i normally play in say, A minor, but i'm just looking for some variety.
Listen to, and learn, different music than you normally would.
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:05 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martmiguel
A: All scales must be used over one chord, try to avoid the use of scales as a global way, try to use one different scale for each one of the chords on the chord progression..


Why?
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:29 AM   #15
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So you can play extremely disjointed lines while racking your brain for synonymous groupings of notes, of course!
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:43 AM   #16
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1. transcribe your favorite solos and lift the licks you like just check on what chord progression the lick is played.
2. try targeting chord tones on stable chords of the progressions.
3. use tensions on non stable chords like the DOM7 chords, these can be sidestepping, tritons, alter scale etc to get outside but get back in on the stable chords to resolve your lines.
4. scat what you are playing at first you will get the notes wrong but this will improve in time, but in the meanwhile you will see how your rhythmic phrasing improves.
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Old 01-10-2013, 03:37 PM   #17
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Practice or learn some other styles of music. Jazz, Neoclassical, etc. Or just take a week off and do something else. I find that always gets me out of a rut.
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:38 PM   #18
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Rockinggamer nailed it on the second post. I'll just tack on to what helps me get through a rut, or feeling that I"m missing a concept.

Use your ear. What I find that helps me is to hum or sing with your lines. If you're ear isn't up to part you'll find yourself singing something that you aren't playing. That means the connection between your mind and your fingers is off.

Another thing that helps me a lot is to boil it down to basics. Over an Am chord, play ONLY the arpeggio. Solo using JUST A,C,E. Then slowly start adding notes in, and you'll learn the sound of the relationships.

Third, is one I learned in school. Drone on a chord (Am again) with a loop pedal, or something recorded. Solo over just that one chord while changing the scale, major to minor to harmonic to melodic etc. Literally any scale you want. This will also build your ear to identify which scale sounds a certain way over chord.

TL;DR - Use your ears.

Hope this helps!
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:06 PM   #19
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The scale/key you use for a solo should match what's implied or stated in the chords. If you don't know what notes are in the chords, you should take the time to learn chord construction first. Soloing makes very little sense if you don't know what chords you're playing over.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:47 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vote4chapman
so basically, after reading replies...i think what i'm wondering about is how to vary my improvisational lead guitar. sure, i can get great sounds playing what i normally play in say, A minor, but i'm just looking for some variety.


I would say, then, that looking towards a new scale as the key to solving all your woes is probably a bad idea. Because if you're "bored" with the scales you're using now, you're gonna get bored with the new ones, too. And eventually, you're gonna run out of new scales to wank and be right back where you started.

Heh. Scales. Key. I see what I did there.
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