#1
How do I learn to improvise? I need to be able to write solos and I just don't really know what to do.

How did you guys learn how to improvise?
#3
Quote by mrb1946
How do I learn to improvise? I need to be able to write solos and I just don't really know what to do.

How did you guys learn how to improvise?

Well for starters, it helps if you know music theory. If you know what key a song is in, you can write something in the same key and it's easy to make it sound good.

Other than that, just play. Play around and learn what sounds good over what, what bends work where, etc. It will take some time but soon you will learn what notes to play to make something fit together. For example, if you are playing something in Am, which is A B C D E F G A, one of the most out-of-place notes is Bb. But you could bend that to a C or D and it will work (it works rather well if it's bent to a D).
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#4
Listen to your chord progression a lot and think of ideas of how you want your solo to sound. Then, if you can, record yourself singing or humming your solo over the progression. Then figure out how to play what you sang on the guitar. When you are just starting out, this method is your best chance of coming up with something musical, otherwise you are likely just hitting random notes in a scale.

To get better over time you have to improve your ear so you can play what's in your head. Spend some time playing chord tones over your progression to see what the notes sound like. Play root notes over your chords to see what that sounds like, play 3rds, 5ths, etc. This will help train your ear.

Also, keep in mind when you are creating your solo that it should tell a story, usually with a beginning, middle and end. You don't want it to sound like you are just playing up and down scales, or playing cliche licks strung together.

Keep at it and over time you will notice improvement.
#5
I sucked when I started improvising - I mean seriously sucked. My teacher would ask me to improvise and I'd panic, go blank, then make random noises til he took pity on me :S I just didn't have a clue what to play.

Then my teacher stopped me trying to use the whole scale, and suggested just using the root and 2 or 3 notes near it - and it worked If you've only got a couple of notes to use you can focus on your rhythm and phrasing, and you don't have to think what notes comes next. Then, when you get some confidence, you either move to a different part of the neck, or add in a couple of notes, and repeat until you are playing all over the neck.

Every time you come up with a lick you like, write it down. That way you can build up an arsenal of licks to use when inspiration hasn't quite struck yet

Learn other peoples solos, and if you find a lick you like that you can adapt for your own playing - write it down!

Practice scales in different patterns too (3rds, 4ths, and anything else you can think of), and practice them single string, 2nps, 3nps, 4nps, as arpeggios...that all gives you different things to fall back on if you get stuck for ideas.

When you get more confident you'll find you can listen to the chord progression and play whats in your head, hell you may be able to do that now if you try, but if you can't yet just build up to it. Start with just a couple of notes, build up to using licks you've written/learned, listen to what you're playing and the chord progression, and as jsepguitar said - try and make it tell a story. And have fun
#6
Quote by zhilla
I sucked when I started improvising - I mean seriously sucked. My teacher would ask me to improvise and I'd panic, go blank, then make random noises til he took pity on me :S I just didn't have a clue what to play.

Then my teacher stopped me trying to use the whole scale, and suggested just using the root and 2 or 3 notes near it - and it worked If you've only got a couple of notes to use you can focus on your rhythm and phrasing, and you don't have to think what notes comes next. Then, when you get some confidence, you either move to a different part of the neck, or add in a couple of notes, and repeat until you are playing all over the neck.

Every time you come up with a lick you like, write it down. That way you can build up an arsenal of licks to use when inspiration hasn't quite struck yet

Learn other peoples solos, and if you find a lick you like that you can adapt for your own playing - write it down!

Practice scales in different patterns too (3rds, 4ths, and anything else you can think of), and practice them single string, 2nps, 3nps, 4nps, as arpeggios...that all gives you different things to fall back on if you get stuck for ideas.

When you get more confident you'll find you can listen to the chord progression and play whats in your head, hell you may be able to do that now if you try, but if you can't yet just build up to it. Start with just a couple of notes, build up to using licks you've written/learned, listen to what you're playing and the chord progression, and as jsepguitar said - try and make it tell a story. And have fun



Wow. That's great advice. Thanks a lot!
#7
Quote by zhilla
I sucked when I started improvising - I mean seriously sucked. My teacher would ask me to improvise and I'd panic, go blank, then make random noises til he took pity on me :S I just didn't have a clue what to play.

Then my teacher stopped me trying to use the whole scale, and suggested just using the root and 2 or 3 notes near it - and it worked If you've only got a couple of notes to use you can focus on your rhythm and phrasing, and you don't have to think what notes comes next. Then, when you get some confidence, you either move to a different part of the neck, or add in a couple of notes, and repeat until you are playing all over the neck.

Every time you come up with a lick you like, write it down. That way you can build up an arsenal of licks to use when inspiration hasn't quite struck yet

Learn other peoples solos, and if you find a lick you like that you can adapt for your own playing - write it down!

Practice scales in different patterns too (3rds, 4ths, and anything else you can think of), and practice them single string, 2nps, 3nps, 4nps, as arpeggios...that all gives you different things to fall back on if you get stuck for ideas.

When you get more confident you'll find you can listen to the chord progression and play whats in your head, hell you may be able to do that now if you try, but if you can't yet just build up to it. Start with just a couple of notes, build up to using licks you've written/learned, listen to what you're playing and the chord progression, and as jsepguitar said - try and make it tell a story. And have fun


First part sounds like with me and my teacher.

As Junior#1 said, it does help to know theory, or atleast the key of the song, what notes are in the key, and the notes of the fretboard. Use your ear though, it's your biggest tool as a musician.

If you're having trouble improvising, I found playing lots of blues or Jazz helps a lot in that area. The blues forces you to make it simple, as Jazz is based around complete improvisation. Arpeggios help, knowing other, and knowing odder sounding scales help.

Also, if you haven't trained your ear well enough, you might not be able to make what you hear in your head come out through your fingers. If that's the problem, you need to do ear training.
#9
Quote by FallsDownStairs
First part sounds like with me and my teacher.

As Junior#1 said, it does help to know theory, or atleast the key of the song, what notes are in the key, and the notes of the fretboard. Use your ear though, it's your biggest tool as a musician.

If you're having trouble improvising, I found playing lots of blues or Jazz helps a lot in that area. The blues forces you to make it simple, as Jazz is based around complete improvisation. Arpeggios help, knowing other, and knowing odder sounding scales help.

Also, if you haven't trained your ear well enough, you might not be able to make what you hear in your head come out through your fingers. If that's the problem, you need to do ear training.


I'm going through David Lucas Burge's PerfectPitch course. I like it so far