#1
I've been playing for under 3 years and I've just started to attempt improvisational soloing within the last 6 months or less. I don't do it all that much since I'm also trying to learn to sing and there's only so much time. Finally, I made an effort over the weekend to try to learn the different chord forms and my soloing just went from crap to decent in a couple of days. I had read material talking about how important this was but for whatever reason I thought I could just get away with practicing pentatonics which is what I had been doing. What made me realize that I needed to look it this was thinking about seeing people jam where they are playing multiple strings at once (something that was much harder for me when keeping my main focus on the pentatonic notes). The most common thing that I'd seen was people barring the D, G, and B strings and hammering and whatnot off of the barres. I started trying it myself and realized it was easy and then started branching off into different chord forms. With a little practice and since I already have the finger coordination from a few years of playing, it was very easy. Had I realized how much this would help, I would have done it sooner.

I just wanted to share a little of what I learned. To the proficient or better soloists, you don't really need to read on because I won't be saying anything you don't already know.

My first piece of advice is to learn the chord forms and the pentatonic scales but if you learn the chord forms you already have the pentatonic scales built in. If you don't know what it is, Google "CAGED". It's a system for finding the different chord forms. Learn to play songs using the different forms and you've added a powerful weapon to your arsenal because you can create harmony and when you mix octaves and invert chords you have something interesting.

Then I would recommend trying to learn how the chords fit within the pentatonic. In my opinion the hardest part about soloing is not getting lost. You need to figure out where you can play off the chords and still be in scale, preferably within the pentatonic. For example you can always play the note two frets over from the 1st and 5th roots of the major chords in a scale and you can always play three frets over from the 3rd root (gets you to the 5th root). These are just a few examples and it gets less predictable from there. So again, you have to learn both the chord formations and the pentatonics.

I'm still on the "journey" myself but these are just a few things I've picked up and they really, really, really helped.


Edit: One more thing. A big part of why soloing had been bland is that I had a problem varying the end of my phrases. For whatever reason my ear would naturally draw me to the 1st root but after working with the chord formations, I started know what other notes were acceptable for ending phrases. Just so you know, you can end a phrase in any root of the tonic chord to find harmony. More specifically this will be the 1st, 3rd, and 5th roots or the individual notes of a chord. So for example, if your chord progression is Em, G, D, A, the tonic chord in the progression is the Em and you can end a phrase on an E, a G, or a B or the 1st, 3rd, and 5th roots of Em.
Last edited by JHogg11 at Feb 16, 2009,
#3
Ahh the old chord tone soloing. Yeah yeah!

You can also use any of the chord tones of the chord being played at the time to end your phrase. So say you have a short phrase that starts on the G chord in that progression and ends as the D chord sounds. You could end your phrase on any of the notes of the D chord and be solid.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Feb 16, 2009,
#4
you have been playing for 3 f***ing years and your just now starting that? jesus christ
IN/ RAINBOWS
IN RAIN/BOWS
IN RAINBOW/S
IN RAINBOWS/
IN RAIN_BOWS
RA D IOHEA_D
RAD IO HEA D


Quote by I'mronburgundy?
in addition to all of that, you also win the thread.



Quote by metallica724
>:O littlejoy isnt a creep hes full of win unlike you
#5
I meant tonic. I meant to go back, figure out the actual word, and then edit it but I forgot. I'll do it now.

Just for the record, I'm not talking about playing only notes of the chord but I'm talking about using the pentatonic scale and the chord formations together. The chords give you a nice little home base to play from and if it any point you get lost in what you're doing you can always go back to the chord.
#6
Quote by littlejoy
you have been playing for 3 f***ing years and your just now starting that? jesus christ


Haha, yeah. First I should mention that I only play acoustic which makes everything harder. I think I tried to learn about soloing when I had a been playing for about a year and a half but I had a misunderstanding of things. For example in the chord progression I mentioned, Em, G, D, A, it appears that you should be playing a D pentatonic because the you have all three major chords of the key of D. However, it sounds way better if you play in Em since this is the tonic chord. It was simple things like that that just got me frustrated. I learned the patterns and everything but I couldn't get it to make any sense. A few months ago someone showed me the basic block pentatonic pattern and played like a 12 bar blues or something while I soloed and what came out of my fingers sounded good to my amazement. I went back to try again and it sounded like **** so I set out to figure out why. My biggest problem is that I wouldn't vary the end of my phrases and the chord formations helped with that a lot because its given me a better sense of where I am while soloing.
#7
Yeah definitely Em pentatonic. The three major chords are part of a cycle of fourths progression leading to that Em tonic: the G moves down a fourth to D; the D moves down a fourth to A; the A moves down a fourth to Em. (All you need is a C to move down to the G and you got Hey Joe.)

Quote by JHogg11
Just for the record, I'm not talking about playing only notes of the chord but I'm talking about using the pentatonic scale and the chord formations together. The chords give you a nice little home base to play from and if it any point you get lost in what you're doing you can always go back to the chord.
Yeah that's pretty much what chord tone soloing is. You use chord tones as target notes usually to end phrases but you don't just arpeggiate the chords (play the notes of a chord melodically). You use a full scale for your licks but intentionally incorporate chord tones in key parts of your phrases.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Feb 16, 2009,
#8
Quote by 20Tigers
Yeah definitely Em pentatonic. The three major chords are part of a cycle of fourths progression leading to that Em tonic: the G moves down a fourth to D; the D moves down a fourth to A; the A moves down a fourth to Em. (All you need is a C to move down to the G and you got Hey Joe.)

Yeah that's pretty much what chord tone soloing is. You use chord tones as target notes usually to end phrases but you don't just arpeggiate the chords (play the notes of a chord melodically). You use a full scale for your licks but intentionally incorporate chord tones in key parts of your phrases.



So, let me get this right. You would agree that chord tone soloing is a/the foundation to all soloing right? I know this is really broad question but what would you say is the next step as far developing phrases that are both interesting and in harmony with the music. The reason I ask is that I feel like this one little step has drastically improved my solos and I now actually like what I'm hearing. So what I'm asking is do I need to just master this to master soloing or is there some next level?
#9
Yeah I think mastering what you've hit on here will take you a long way toward mastering the art of soloing but I'm still working on it myself. I'm not a master yet. I'm trying to learn as many solos as I can by ear and then taking them apart to figure out exactly what is going on and why each one sounds the way it does.

I think what it helps with, if you follow the chord tones as they change, is making a solo that sounds like it goes somewhere as opposed to just a bunch of random licks in that are in-key but have no real movement.

I think it's just a ton of practice to be honest. If you do stumble across anything else that almost instantaneously improves your soloing ideas be sure to post and I'll do the same.
Si
#10
This is why I say, if you don't practice anything else, AT LEAST practice arpeggios. On a daily basis. There's lot of ways you can practice basic triads - major,minor,dim,aug - and those are at the heart of all chord forms. When you know your triads all over the neck, good things happen.

EDIT:
One of the best ways I've found to organize triads is in the "3 diagonals" which I cover here:

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=813959

They're not just good for sweeping. When you take all 3 diagonals together, you get ALL the triad notes in that section of the neck. The diagonal going in these general directions are actually an important "geometry" to be aware of WRT the fretboard. That's because 3rds tend to go in that direction and what are triads and chords if not based on stacked 3rds?
Last edited by edg at Feb 16, 2009,
#11
yea, to me the main thing that really helps my soloing to keep getting better is practicing of course, learning more theory, and getting to know the fretboard better/knowing what everything sounds like before you do it.

it seems like the more theory I learn, the more the doors open to me. every little thing I learn or find interesting I try out on the guitar, mess with it, make sure I understand it, etc.

edit: yea, totally agree with edg.

my favorite (i'm starting to overuse it) is the minor third triad on the G B and E strings.

|-7
|-8
|-9
|--
|--
|--

it just so easy to pull a fast 'filler' lick out of that that'll sound awesome while giving you time to think.
Last edited by The4thHorsemen at Feb 17, 2009,
#12
Quote by The4thHorsemen
yea, to me the main thing that really helps my soloing to keep getting better is practicing of course, learning more theory, and getting to know the fretboard better/knowing what everything sounds like before you do it.

it seems like the more theory I learn, the more the doors open to me. every little thing I learn or find interesting I try out on the guitar, mess with it, make sure I understand it, etc.

edit: yea, totally agree with edg.

my favorite (i'm starting to overuse it) is the minor third triad on the G B and E strings.

|-7
|-8
|-9
|--
|--
|--

it just so easy to pull a fast 'filler' lick out of that that'll sound awesome while giving you time to think.


That's really, really weird because I was just thinking about that triad before I clicked on this thread. And yes, it's awesome. I'm also a big fan of playing a barre A-form chord and then using the pinky to turn it into a G-form and sliding up 2 frets with the pinky. It's gold.
#13
really really really wierd. I have been working on a song for most of the day that is based around going between Am and Em and over the Em chord that was the shape I was using
7
8
9

And for the Am I was using
5--8
5
5

Just working licks around those shapes.
Si
#14
Nice, my favourite way to play Am is;

0
10
9
10
0
x

However I should mention that I'm a Mark Knopfler fan, and he perfectly illustrates the OP's point, identifying common notes of the chords and scales in order to create leads. The way he uses penatonic scales, it doesn't even sound like the pentatonic. Amazing stuff.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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