Hello guys, I think I have serious problems with timing in my solos and phrasing. I would like to know your suggestions on improving it.

You can find my solo #1 in my profile homepage:

It's over a chord progression you may know.

I practice almost regularly scales in different positions with the metronome, starting from low speed (50) up to medium/high (120-140). I dont focus on any particular lick, just scales (which by the way is sooo boring.)

The problem is that, when I play, I am not aware of being out of time or sloppy.. I think I am doing good.
However, when I listen back... It's horrible..
think while you're playing.
when did you start learning scales?
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whats the chord progression? its quite hard to hear through my laptop speakers.
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the diff between playing scales to a metronome then actual improv...is 1. you dont know what your playing when u improv 2. solos dont consist of strict 8th notes or strict quarter or strick 16th notes...its a combination of all timings, and notes
lastly, use a dream beat or backing track...its hard to solo to just chords cause they dont provide you very good timing, you really have to listen to it instead of what youre playing
keep practicing and try to expand in you phrasing, and you'll progress...it aint easy but youll be fine
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When you play over a backing track keep tapping your foot to the beat. Easiest place to start is 4/4 timing. And each note you play isnt going to be on the tap of your foot, different notes will last different amounts of time, some much shorter or longer than your tapping. Keep at it, and dont try and force your improvising.
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It sounds to me like you're not playing around with many ideas. You've got some
bending of the same notes over and over (and not always accurately), and a pentatonic
lick or two and that's about it.

You may be practicing scales, but you're not using them much, or working on different
phrasings of notes, or pulling interesting structures out of them. That's probably why
you find them boring. You're not getting anything out of your practice of them. If
you're just using the metronome as a speed trainer, and not as a device to help you
feel the beat, this can be the result.
Quote by thezack
I practice almost regularly scales in different positions with the metronome, starting from low speed (50) up to medium/high (120-140). I dont focus on any particular lick, just scales (which by the way is sooo boring.)

The problem is that, when I play, I am not aware of being out of time or sloppy.. I think I am doing good.
However, when I listen back... It's horrible..

Well that's exactly what you're doing wrong. Stop practicing just scales you already know and start practicing licks and making up your own with your knowledge of scales, I bet you it won't be so boring.
Since you already know what the problem is then why don't you fix it? focus on what you're doing; stay on time when you practice and be as clean as you can, work on that, that's real practice as opposed to what you've been doing.
It's been 9 months since I started practicing scales seriously. I dig the comments on using the foot and focusing on creating and practicing licks instead of scales.

By the way, I've a drum machine; you think that it's better than the metronome for learning timing?
You might be better of learning licks at this point. It's still helpful to see how they are
based on scales if you want to be able to use them in your own soloing. Ultimately, if
you understand scales well enough, you can find almost everything you need in them.
If you simply practice going up & down the scale over & over you're going to have
diminishing returns very quickly. However, that well will help you understand licks because
the other side of the coin is if you just memorize licks and solos without understanding
them, you'll find it difficult to use them as general aspects of your improvisation.

A metronome is best to work on timing precision. If you're not really focusing on being
precise anyway, and get more of a feel for the drum machine, by all means use that.
You got chops, but it sounds boring.

Just improvise more and learn solo's from ur favourite artists to improve phrasing. Also think of something. Exaggerate. Bend superhard, and play every lick like u mean it. Try to smash the lick out of ur guitar as if you wanted to break the speaker.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Dec 21, 2008,
As edg and others said, metronome or drum machine to improve the timing. IMO, metronome is best for accuracy, drum machine is best for becoming aware of what the rhythm is doing underneath your playing and learning to improvise something that works well with different types of drums.

Now here's the other thing. Everything you learn, learn how to use it. What do I mean? Ok, lets say you have learned scale X by running up and down it in lots of positions. At that point, you have learned the scale, but not necessarily learned how to use it in your playing. Now if you can improvise all over the neck in that scale, know it's important notes and how to emphasize them, and what it works well over, then you've learned a lot about how to use it.

Here's one thing I started doing about a year ago, and have been doing a lot more lately, and the results have been very promising so far. It's kind of an improvising game. Lets say I am learning a section of a solo by artist X. In addition to learning to play the section as is slowly and then speeding it up, here's what I'll do. I will take some aspect of the piece, and the improvising game is - I must improvise using this aspect for 10 mins and nothing else. The aspect can be anything - a technique that is awkward, a fingering pattern, the scale and key of the piece, anything.

1) The piece has shown me that my pinky is not as strong as I thought it was. Improvise for 10 mins, you are only allowed to use your pinky and index fingers.
2) The piece is in F harmonic minor. Improvise in F harmonic minor for 10 mins.
3) The piece has a lot of string skipping. Improvise for 10 mins and you are only allowed to use the 5th, 3rd, and 1st strings.
4) The piece has a certain fingering pattern that is interesting. Improvise for 10 mins using that pattern, with a minimum of other fingerings to connect pieces.
5) The piece has a couple of trilled notes and I can't get them sounding as good as artist X. Improvise for 10 mins trilling everything, again with just a few note trilled notes to get around.
6) The piece has parts that are high up on the neck and I'm lacking a bit of accuracy/fretboard knowledge up there. Great. Improvise for 10 mins, but you're not allowed to go below the 12th fret.
7) Here's a really good one for phrasing. Lets say part of the piece goes like 1e-and-u-2e-3-and-4. Play that a few times on an open string to get it into your head, then improvise for 10 mins using just that rhythm, going back to the open string now and again if you need to re-inforce the feel of it in your head.

The list of things you can do goes on and on. But the idea is to take whatever you are learning, and not just learn it, but explore it and learn how to use it. At first, for some of these things, you will be stumbling around the fretboard like a drunk, but you will be surprised what even a few days of this will do.

And the side benefit. For me, this sort of idea/technique exploring through improvising makes for a massively fun practice session.
Last edited by se012101 at Dec 21, 2008,
It didnt sound bad man, one of the things I find helps me is not to start thinking, just take your brain out of the equation and feel.
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You could try playing less notes, maybe just two or three, but making sure they're dead on time. Then stick with those notes and vary the rhythm, making sure it's still dead on time. Soon you'll have no problem with those three notes and you might want to add a bend or a slide or maybe a trill. Start the same process, making sure you're playing is perfect and slowly vary it and swap it around.

This will also help you develop a new idea in your playing. Using motifs. Research it.