The Second Lesson: Improvising

author: Martin Messner date: 09/22/2010 category: soloing
rating: 7.3 / votes: 9 
Hey guys, after the first lesson series, we will get deeper into specific areas that had been addressed only. This Lesson will deal with Improvising and how to improve it: It's recommended to read my two lessons about it, if you don't know what pentatonic is:
0. Our fretboard
e||---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
B||---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
G||---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
D||---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A||---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E||---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
mark        o       o       o       o           oo          o       o       o
fret1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19
1. Reduce the scale to a pentatonic scale In this lesson, we will take a look at the a minor scale and its possibilities of improvisation. But from the earlier lessons that you can just move the patterns. And yes, there are far more places of notes from this pentatonic, but it will just look chaotic, I want to expand that pattern over this lesson. MAJ shows the places of the root note C (major scale) and MIN the places of the minor root note A.
e||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|---|MAJ|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
B||---|---|---|---|-X-|---|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
G||---|---|---|---|MAJ|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
D||---|---|---|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A||---|---|---|---|-X-|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|---|MAJ|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
mark        o       o       o       o           oo          o       o       o
2. Add the Blues Tones We just add some few notes that sound a little disharmonic but beautiful anyways :) B marks the places of the blues note D sharp.
e||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|---|MAJ|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
B||---|---|---|---|-X-|---|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
G||---|---|---|---|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
D||---|---|---|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A||---|---|---|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|---|MAJ|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
mark        o       o       o       o           oo          o       o       o
3. Complete the Pentatonic to the scale back again The a minor pentatonic is an a minor scale without F and B, as you know. Even if these notes need some practice to include in solos, their still main part of the scale and should be played from time to time. S marks the Fs and Bs that were left out in the pentatonic scale
e||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
B||---|---|---|---|-X-|-S-|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
G||---|---|---|---|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
D||---|---|---|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-S-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A||---|---|---|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|-S-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
mark        o       o       o       o           oo          o       o       o
4. Expand your pattern to higher frets
e||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|-X-|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
B||---|---|---|---|-X-|-S-|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-S-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
G||---|---|---|---|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
D||---|---|---|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-S-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A||---|---|---|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|-S-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
mark        o       o       o       o           oo          o       o       o
 
example: 
e|---5-8-5-8-7~--12-10---------|
B|---------------------12-10~--|
G|-----------------------------|
D|-----------------------------|
A|-----------------------------|
E|-----------------------------|
5. Get the second pentatonic scale a few frets higher Now, we just add another "block" of the scale on top of the old one
e||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|-X-|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
B||---|---|---|---|-X-|-S-|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|---|---|---|---|---|
G||---|---|---|---|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|---|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
D||---|---|---|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A||---|---|---|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|-S-|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|-X-|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
mark        o       o       o       o           oo          o       o       o
6. Add the missing scale notes (S) and blues notes (B) again
e||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
B||---|---|---|---|-X-|-S-|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|---|---|---|---|---|
G||---|---|---|---|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|-S-|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
D||---|---|---|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A||---|---|---|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|-S-|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-S-|---|---|---|---|---|
E||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|-S-|---|---|---|---|---|---|
mark        o       o       o       o           oo          o       o       o
7. Adding notes on the last two string for tapping
e||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|-S-|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-s-|
B||---|---|---|---|-X-|-S-|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|-x-|-B-|-x-|-s-|---|
G||---|---|---|---|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|---|---|-X-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
D||---|---|---|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A||---|---|---|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|-S-|---|-X-|---|MIN|---|-S-|---|---|---|---|---|
E||---|---|---|---|MIN|---|-S-|MAJ|---|-X-|-B-|-X-|-S-|---|---|---|---|---|---|
mark        o       o       o       o           oo          o       o       o
8. Have balls and go off-scale! The last important fact is, that scales get boring anyways. Fun guys just play the guitar and "feel" when the need to get some disharmonics. Just have a try, it takes some time (I know), but it's worth it! ... I guess that should be enough, if you still need more "space" and "freedom", just add as many blocks of pentatonic, blues or regular scales to this pattern. Here a few things for soloing in general: a) Never rush a solo Just because you are about to play a "improvised solo", the audience still doesn't expect you to be the worlds best and fastest guitarist. Just do your job, but do it well: Play a solo and play it RIGHT, not fast and inaccurate! b) Repeat notes and rest on notes Playing the pentatonic scale up and down with eighths is boring like hell. I once saw that at a local bar and felt really really sad for it. Add some rhythm! Stay on notes, repeat notes! c) Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs Include legato, especially on the notes D, Dsharp and E. Take a look at the solo of Muse - Uprising (written in a minor for now):
e|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------------------9-9\8-8\7-7\5-5\4-4\2-2\1-----|
D|-----------------5h6h7-------------5h6h7----------------------------2-2-|
A|-----------5h6h7-------------5h6h7--------------------------------------|
E|---5---8---------------5---8--------------------------------------------|
 
e|-----------------------5-5---|
B|----6-5h6-5--5-5-3/5-5-------|
G|-----------------------------|
D|-----------------------------|
A|-----------------------------|
E|-----------------------------|
Honestly, this is one of the easiest solos but not boring at all- because of some technical gimmicks! d) Bendings and slides Same as c): Just do it! e) Tapping Tapping might sound too hard for improvising, but in fact, it is easy like hell. Get your left hand used to the first pattern (figure 2 and 3 e.g.) and tap notes from higher frets. f) Fading-In and Fading-Out Using an electric guitar gives you the possibility to modify your sound. You may heard of those "knobs" on the guitar ;). One of the will usually regulate the volume, so can strum a chord or pluck a note and turn the volume up into the tone! This might also work with bendings & theis release- sounds exciting. g) Killswitching You know bucketheads jordan? Let's be honest: the melody of it is just interesting because of it's rhythm and the wahwah effect. Ok ok, guys, I know, 99% of people who will read this do not have a killswitch (including myself), but you might have a SG or LP guitar. There could be a toggle switch to choose between the pickups (strats e.g. have a knob for that). So you can just turn the volume of the second pickup completly down and use the switch for the killswicht effect. h) effects Use effects like Wah-wah, Octave-pedals or simple CHORUS, FLANGER or PHASER. If you know a bit what your solo will sound like, choose them carefully! i) practice, practice, practice No human being got a guitar and mastered it instantly. By playing the guitar you will get better, simple but true. ... Ever heard about "Jam-Session" where musiciens who don't usually play together in a band, spontaneously form a group and improvise together? I recommend you to get to know where the next Jam bar in your area is and then go there! You will meet cool new guys, if you are lucky even some really awesome guitarists, some hot chicks ;) and you will have really much fun. You could get your friends to your place and jam with them, but I guess that strangers skills which you and your friends don't have. They just came from different cities, had other influences and created another unique style, so you should hang out with them, too. ;D If you think you are too shy or you think that people will throw tomatoes at you for every single wrong note, then you missed the point of music. Music is from people for people to make them feel good. And what's the reward for it? In return, the audience cheers and will even spend drinks for you (perhaps). And don't forget: people who go to Jam-bars know that live music can fail, you can be sure that they heard 10-times worse solos than you could even think of! Generally they are cool, so check it out! Well, have a fun time jamming Martin Messner :D
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