#1
Hi

So I want to get good at improvising over chord progressions and stuff. I know you need practice to get good but how do you practice?

Did you just jam along to songs, or did you have some sort of book or something?

Is there any way to get good at improvising that you would recommend?

Thanks.
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#3
The first thing you have to do is identify the key that is being used in the progression. Then you have know what scales sound good over that key and just play around with those scales a bit. When i first started improvising, I just recorded and looped a simple Am progression: A C E C E A. Then I just played a bunch of pentatonic stuff over it. After a while it becomes second nature, as long as you can identify the key.
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#4
i would start by understanding some theory and why certain scales major and minor are played over certain keys. minor pentatonic is usually the first scale people will learn with. get yourself some jam tracks and play over them, also move around into different keys (obviously to different jam tracks) you dont want to become a master of the key of A but struggle when it comes to moving to a different key, even though the shapes just move trust me people can struggle who are just used to playing in a certain key.
#5
Learn a simple scale (if you are doing rock, I suggest E minor). Then, just solo in the scale over a backing track. Soon enough, you will develop your own style.
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#6
Learning different scales helps a ton. Knowing the key the chord progression is in helps too. Music theory. Music theory. Music theory. Music theory. That is perhaps the biggest help of all. And btw, if you don't take lessons, I'd reccommend it. Ask a music teacher to teach some lessons on improvising/ music theory. It helped me alot.
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#7
commenting on what virx67 said, you shouldn't just learn music theory, but you should learn music theory and apply it to the guitar. Don't just learn what a minor triad is. Learn how to play a minor triad on the guitar.
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#8
^^ that's what I meant by learning music theory. I took a class on music theory before playing guitAR, and it wasn't fun. However, when you have someone teaching you how the theory applies to the guitar, its way better.
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#9
Music theory is definitely important as everyone has suggested, however I think it can be dry at first. What I did is learned the minor pentatonic scale and started playing that over songs (once you figure out what key they're in). Eventually you notice patterns with the chord changes and you'll begin to flow a lot easier
#10
learn the key of the song
when a solo pops up play but start changing stuff (so keep the main structure)
and continue from there
#11
The best way (in my opinion) is to learn some theory. I would suggest looking into the minor/major pentatonic scale for starters. Then look into the major/minor scale, and if you feel hungry for more look into the modes of the major scale. The next step is to find a backing track of a chord progression of some sort. Distinguish what key it is in and if it is major or minor. Then choose a related scale and play this scale over the backing track. Some things that make a guitar solo good are great phrasing, dynamics, and variety. Good luck!
#12
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knowing music theory,practice and jamming with other players.

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#14
learn a few scales. figure out what key the song is in. practice those scales in that key over backing tracks or chord progressions or your favorite song, getting a feel for the scale. come up with a few simple licks that you like, and just generally get a grip onhe scales. then just go for it. At first it will sound like dirt. then your phrasing and feel will get better and you'll be able to trick people into thinking you're a godly musician by playing a different solo each time, straight out of your bunghole.

start with major and minor pentatonic. its easy and sounds good, if a little generic, and it can be used in most any musical setting, from pop to funk to metal. Pentatonic widdling will help you get a little feeling in your playing. then learn your major and minor scales, and work with them in a similar fashion. Eventually, you'll learn what sounds good when, and such.

another idea: try random sh*t that you wouldn't normally do, and don't try to be like your favorite guitarist. try and figure out unique and novel ways to get around any inadequacies you may have. This will help you develop your own, interesting style.
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#15
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go to http://www.all-guitar-chords.com/guitar_scales.php, learn some scales. you can learn just a section, or the whole fretboard in any key. i suggest major scale, minor pentatonic, major phrygian, and harmonic minor to get you going. all very useful in almost any situation
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#16
If you learn the major scale inside out you can just about play over everything when combined with a bit of theory knowledge and some practice using your ears.

Start slow, using only a few notes maybe in simple patterns following the rhythm, then start to expand on hooks and ideas. Also, although myself and most other people mentioned scales, don't get locked into scalar runs just going up and down, use odd groupings of notes and passing tones to stand out a bit.
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#17
I would recommend you to go basic at first, learn the minor and major pentatonics of a given scale. Record some simple 12 bar blues or something to improvise over it. When you elarn the pentatonic scales (or whichever you wish to use to imrpovise) dont just learn the shape, learn the notes, the intervals and think about what you're playing at first, what notes sound best over the chords, make it very very simple so when you speed it up and shred it (if thats what you like) you're playing the best sounding notes possible
#18
Yeah, I agree completely with most of the other guys here. Pentatonic scales are the best way to go at the beginning. Then once you've learned the shapes, play some eric clapton stuff or, well, pretty much anything and try and play those shapes over the song. It works with a ton of songs, and will really help with your rhythm aswell because you have to try and stay in sync with the song.

Here's a resource which has the 5 minor pentatonic shapes tabbed out - Guitar Scale Book - Pentatonic Shapes . Pretty neat!
#19
I'm not good at it (yet ), but I'm working on it by:

Listening to the backing and listening to whats going on in my head over the backing, and trying to play that

Attempting to really listen to what I'm playing

Trying to focus on phrasing and rhythms as much as the notes - and that includes articulation (how legato/staccato your playing is) and dynamics

Trying to make my improv tell a story - normally by having an actual (normally very bad lol) story or monologue running through my head as I'm playing

Not letting myself get too far into a 'comfort zone' where I'll be tempted to fall back on old licks I've used lots before - by making myself use different parts of the fretboard, different keys, and switch between diatonic scales, pentatonic/blues scales, arpeggios, triads and intervals

Listening to music I like and trying to work out what it is I like about it - so I can use that myself

At the moment I suck at most of that - but its getting easier
Last edited by zhilla at Oct 28, 2009,