Hey guys, I have always had this proglem when it comes to improvising. It seems as iff all i do is run up and down scales. I have a very hard time creating unique sounds and or playing the right note at the right time. another problem is i keep the same beat going 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... etc i find it hard to find room for pauses or alternate beats. does anyone have any suggestions for me as far as what i can change?
try improvising with only 2 or 3 notes. Then after you get somewhere with that, add in a new note in the scale. Pretty soon you'll have a good idea of what each note sounds like while improving and you'll never feel the need to "run the scale" after that.
1) learn some standard licks
2) practice learning lines up and downs strings, not just in box positions
3) if the song has a melody/theme, try to play off of that rhythm when improvising. playing with/improviing on the main melody line is always cool
4) check out this book: http://www.amazon.com/Advancing-Guitarist-Mick-Goodrick/dp/0881885894
it's not a method book, but more a book of ideas to teach yourself from. there's no end to the different ways it shows you to look at the guitar neck.
5) practice practice practice. alot of improvising is about feel. you need to learn to feel it.
Likely you've been practising running up and down scales so many times that your muscle memory is stuck like that.

Slow down so you can direct your fingers with your brain rather than your muscle memory. You might have to slow down a lot.

Unique sounds are not created by your typical notes. You're going to have to look into phrasing when it comes to improv. This is your legato, bends, vibrato, harmonics and also how long you hold your notes for. For example, play two notes quickly and then hold the third for a couple of beats and use a bit of vibrato. Not only does it make the note stand out and sound more unique but it also gives you time to consider what comes next.
thanks guys this is some really useful information, i feel like my problem is maybe me trying to move from blues to a jazz fusion type feel. i'm gonna go jam and mess with what you all have suggested thanks.
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Watch the video in my sig.

One of the best instructional videos I have seen. And Marty looks so stoned in that . Definately check it out, it's got some good pointers on how to make your solos sound more coherent.

Also learn other people's solos, you'll get some ideas about phrasing and note selection from there as well.
Quote by chimneyfish
"death-metal is the best when its in the shape of a dildo and shoved in my ass"

Born to lose...
...live to Win
sing the notes you are playing.......soon your fingers and brain will be in sinc and you will be able to play what you can sing.
A lot of improvising isn't truly improvising as in making up every note on the fly, its more spontaneously combining bits from your mental library of cool licks and fragments. Thats basically what you are doing now, the problem is that your library consists of running up and down scales. So, first order of business, you have to expand and improve your library. Spend a little time each day just messing around on the guitar, not necessarily improvising, just looking for cool little ideas to use later. When you happen upon something cool, you need to be able to retain it. One idea is to just print out a bunch of blank tab and leave it by your guitar. When you come upon something cool, stop for a moment and quickly tab it out so you dont forget it.
Make a concious effort to avoid scale runs. Make a point to use large intervals (a third or more) more often. And vary the rhythms of your melodies more. Use more syncopation or triplets. And listen to solos from outside your normal genre. They don't even have to be guitar solos. Listen to some jazz. That will probably help improve improv better than any other genre.

Whoever suggested singing what you play, that's good advice. But keep in mind that it may limit your range. If you do that, you should probably switch octaves once in a while to break away from that 2-octave-or-so range.
Last edited by werty22 at Nov 29, 2008,