Heyy everyone, i'm not really sure if this belongs here so sorry if it's in the wrong place.

I've been playing guitar (acoustic and electric) for roughly a year now and i'd say my technique and skills have progressed better than i could have hoped. I'm completely self taught (outside of internet lessons and a few tutorials for songs on youtube) I can play some imtermediate songs (Dust In The Wind - Kansas, Plug In Baby - Muse, Tears in Heaven - Eric Clapton, Your Revolution is a Joke - Funeral for a Friend) and pretty much any intermediate songs using a progression of chords (i dunno why but i have a knack for chords).

However one thing thats bugged me is that i'm not very good at improvising my own music outside of chord progression. I'd like to be able to improvise more advanced songs other than Am-C-Em etc. At the moment i've been attempting to improvise around chords (using the finger pattern) and playing single notes. This doesn't sound bad but i always end up playing a very similar pattern of strings and chords. I also quite often get to the point where i know exactly what sound i want to play to follow the last or change the dynamics, but i can't find it on the fretboard.

I mean it could be because i haven't really tried out scales, i know the way they work (innotations, half steps, full steps, octaves etc) but i've never really bothered because i didn't find them interesting. Would learning and practising scales help? If so are there any particularly good lessons on UG or other sites that could help me? Or would it be better to try songs i like and see how the composer built that song? See i find the latter much more interesting but i do believe maybe i've hit the point where i need to start learning scales and other musical theory.

Thank you so much in advance, and i'm sorry if this seems a silly question.
Last edited by Todd Hart at Jan 1, 2010,
Scales are definitely important. Start by learning the notes of the pentatonic scale (scale lacking the fourth and seventh note in a major scale) up and down the neck, and fill in the gaps by learning the normal scale.

Then? Just keep playing constantly along with backing tracks/songs and your phrasing will develop.
Both learning scales and analyzing songs from composers will help, but you could also try learn chords in multiple positions around the fretboard, because that would give you more options when improvising.

Im not really an expert though, still trying to learn similar stuff myself.
Concerning SOLO improvisation, scales definitely help, although I manage to solo without a single bit of scale knowledge (pay no attention to the mp3's on my profile, they're ANCIENT.)

Concerning actual songwriting, I either come up with something from a basic riff, or take chords in songs, change the tempo, and move stuff around, and before you know it BAM you have your own song. But that's just my schtick.
You know, you're probably reading this saying "Hey, I'm bored, maybe this'll be funny?"
It's not. Too bad. No, I am not refunding you those 6 seconds of your life. So :P

If you're going to improvise, especially on harder material, you will want to know everything possible about chord forms up the neck, scales and theory in general.
GMW hot-rod telecaster
GMW soloist
PRS Custom 24
The Illegal Les Paul
Soldano SM-100R
Splawn 4x12

“Life is on the wire…the rest is just waiting” - Papa Wallenda
Substitute the stage for the wire, and he's got it.
Im not saying you HAVE to learn jazz, but taking a jazzy approach (playing over changes) would be to your benefit.
first, memorize your major scale, dorian mode, natural/harmonic/true melodic minor, mixolydian mode and blues scale in Five positions and 12 keys (and memorize the sound--be able to sing the scale).
Next, memorize the diatonic 7th chord arpeggios in each of those scales in the same way, and the arpeggio that corresponds to the tonic (IM7 in Major etc) and as a 13 chord (1 3 5 7 9 11 13)
once (and while) you've done that, start getting a hand for improvisation. Find a song you like and practice playing over the chord changes bar by bar, trancribe some of your favorite artists (though see how they do what they do, don't simply lift ideas). eventually it will all come together, also make sure your time is damn great and start doing some sight singing (to perfect your ability to hear music in your head and make it come out of your guitar).
Once you've practiced playing changes and you know thease scales perfectly and your playing with a band, close your eyes, forget everything and just create.
Thanks for all the advice everybody.

As for scales are there any particularly good sources to learn them from, i'm guessing the lessons here are as good as any so i've been reading up.

I think really i'm looking more to improvisation is can use to start writing my own more advanced songs, but i'm assuming that solo improvisational skills will help with this.
Last edited by Todd Hart at Jan 1, 2010,
Start by getting the major scale totally down. Then you can learn all the other scales in terms of how they differ from major, rather than learning them from scratch. For example, minor differs from major in that it's 3rd, 6th, and 7th intervals are a half step lower. That's three things to remember - easier than remembering all 7 intervals.
Once you have the minor and major down, you can learn a lot of the modes by just remembering which intervals are the same as major and which are the same as minor. For example, mixolydian is the same as major, except it's 7th is minor. Harmonic minor (not really a mode, more of an alteration of the minor scale) is the same as minor, except it's 7th is major.
Hope that helps some!
Last edited by se012101 at Jan 1, 2010,