#1
I realized that every time I improvise, my solo sounds very stale and predictable. What can I do to make it sound more creative? I do use different techniques but I find it a lil 'scaley'. I can't seem to break the connection between the boxes.
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#2
Quote by Broken-pick
I realized that every time I improvise, my solo sounds very stale and predictable. What can I do to make it sound more creative? I do use different techniques but I find it a lil 'scaley'. I can't seem to break the connection between the boxes.


Well, techniques and boxes aren't the likely culprit in "stale and predictable playing".

It's more likely a listening issue and/or general experience issue.


Listen to, learn, memorize, play, study, & enjoy solo's that you like.

allow yourself the time it takes to develop your own abilities.
shred is gaudy music
#4
Think of your guitar as an extension of your thoughts. It sounds simple, but it isn't.

If you have something profound to say, say it with your guitar. If you don't know what you want to say, you might as well be pissing in a fan. Music, like all of the arts, is an expression of your thoughts. It is communicating those thoughts.

If you're a vacuous/shallow person, people who aren't will call you a hack. Even people who have never played a note, can identify a fake. They're called critics. That's what makes it difficult. Possibly you and many others could use your technical abilities to play me under the table, but I try to "mean" what I play. I may well fall short, but I'm still trying to make those links.

Slow lead/fast lead, who cares? What are you trying to say with your music. Does it capture an emotion? Does it explain what you want it to? Beyond just technical prowess, are you connecting with the people you're playing for? If not, you've lost at the game we are all playing.
#5
Quote by Broken-pick
I realized that every time I improvise, my solo sounds very stale and predictable. What can I do to make it sound more creative? I do use different techniques but I find it a lil 'scaley'. I can't seem to break the connection between the boxes.


Exactly. Thank you, you've made my point. This is something that I find lacking with the boxes, cages and scales. You only know certain ways to go about playing lead, you dont know the entire fretboard, and so after awhile, you're starting to see the same tired things and gradually you lose inspiration.

If you aren't being moved by your own playing, no one else is, and YES, YES a thousand times yes, boxes and patterns without an overall ability to navigate the neck anyway you see fit IS likely one part of it. You were forced to learn patterns, the same old limiting patterns, and you are now coming to see what myself and many others see...they are limiting.

I mean even by virtue of their very name, the scales tell you exactly what they are going to do...CAGE and BOX you in.

There are some benefits to both, I suppose if that's all you have to work with (You gotta dance with the girl you came with) but ultimately, they will be limiting. You have to use pre-memorized pathways to go anywhere. And as soon as it gets like that, end of story you are not unlimited in freedom to navigate the neck.

Some people reach this realization faster than others.
#6
I have the same problem with you and I'm trying to get out of this gay rut i've been in for the past 2 years. But now I'm practicing a lot with modes, idk if thats what your working with but: Take your scale/mode, and you don't have to learn the whole scale around the neck just YET. Learn maybe like one more pattern or two at the most, take a pedal tone or a progression, and mess around. Get used to the scale/mode
#7
Quote by Sean0913
Exactly. Thank you, you've made my point. This is something that I find lacking with the boxes, cages and scales. You only know certain ways to go about playing lead, you dont know the entire fretboard, and so after awhile, you're starting to see the same tired things and gradually you lose inspiration.

If you aren't being moved by your own playing, no one else is, and YES, YES a thousand times yes, boxes and patterns without an overall ability to navigate the neck anyway you see fit IS likely one part of it. You were forced to learn patterns, the same old limiting patterns, and you are now coming to see what myself and many others see...they are limiting.

I mean even by virtue of their very name, the scales tell you exactly what they are going to do...CAGE and BOX you in.

There are some benefits to both, I suppose if that's all you have to work with (You gotta dance with the girl you came with) but ultimately, they will be limiting. You have to use pre-memorized pathways to go anywhere. And as soon as it gets like that, end of story you are not unlimited in freedom to navigate the neck.

Some people reach this realization faster than others.


Its not the box that's the problem. It doesn't matter if you only play between frets 12 and 17 for your scale. You've got a little more than two octaves there, and that's plenty for any solos.

The problem is how he's using the box. He's probably playing straight up and down the scale frequently and/or using very uninteresting rhythm. I think a good thing to do, would be to practice scales in thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths and even sevenths, to get used to different melodic movement other than seconds. Just start your scale, and instead of going 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 go 1 3 2 4 3 5 4 6 5 7 6 1 7 9 8 or use an interval other than thirds. Also try playing songs in other time signatures, or forcing yourself to start your phrases on an off-beat.

Its not the box that gives you the problems, its how your using the box, although you should still work towards being able to use the entire fretboard in any key.
#8
Quote by Sean0913
Exactly. Thank you, you've made my point. This is something that I find lacking with the boxes, cages and scales. You only know certain ways to go about playing lead, you dont know the entire fretboard, and so after awhile, you're starting to see the same tired things and gradually you lose inspiration.


Look, those are all just patterns. They aren't lacking in anything that they aren't supposed to lack. They are what they are..... a visual representation of a specific thing. Laying blame on a visual aid is misleading IMO, and doesn't get down to the heart of the issue.


Quote by Sean0913

If you aren't being moved by your own playing, no one else is


This is true IMO

Quote by Sean0913

, and YES, YES a thousand times yes, boxes and patterns without an overall ability to navigate the neck anyway you see fit IS likely one part of it. You were forced to learn patterns, the same old limiting patterns, and you are now coming to see what myself and many others see...they are limiting.


I really think this whole stance, which I've seen here often, is grossly overstated as well as misleading.

"boxes", "patterns", however you want to refer to them, are just visual representations of musical concepts (scale, chord, interval....) They are no more limiting than the concepts they represent.





Quote by Sean0913

I mean even by virtue of their very name, the scales tell you exactly what they are going to do...CAGE and BOX you in.


again, they don't do anything. it's US that does something with them. When people make the mistakes they do regarding soloing/improve..... it has to do with their approach. (and their are many valid approaches to playing guitar)
shred is gaudy music
#9
First of all, right on to everyone who is saying to think about what you mean to say rather than just playing the notes. And I also agree about technical proficiency - lacking the technique to play what you have in your mind's ear is like someone who has it in them to be a great poet but sadly they only have 100 words in their vocabulary, they might have the ideas, but they have no way to express them.

Here is the thing about improvising. Nobody on this planet, even at a modest tempo, spontaneously makes up every single note on the fly. Everyone has a number of stock phrases and devices and ways from A to B that they fall back on. Where the genius is, for a great player, is how those phrases are combined on the fly, and how rich the library is that they are pulling from.

If you are starting to sound "samey", a good place to start is by enriching your library of phrases and devices. One way is to learn more material. Everytime I spend a decent chunk of time working on learning a song, I'll find that some of the ideas in that song have made it over into my improvising bag of tricks, and that my improvising is better, and less samey, as a result.
One thing I've done in the past that's really helped break out of the sameness, is to make up a "rule" and practice improvising within that rule for 10 mins or so. The rule can be anything - like only in this scale, only these intervals, or even only with these fingers, or these strings, or only in this rhythmic pattern. Well, at first it sounds awful, but after a few tries you start finding nifty ways to get some interesting sounding stuff out - and of course you can't fall back on the old familiar patterns because they are "against the rules". And then after a few days when I remove the rule and go back to regular improvising, there's always a bit of a new twist to my playing. It works really well, and I think I've made up some of my most interesting phrases this way.
#10
Quote by se012101

One thing I've done in the past that's really helped break out of the sameness, is to make up a "rule" and practice improvising within that rule for 10 mins or so. The rule can be anything - like only in this scale, only these intervals, or even only with these fingers, or these strings, or only in this rhythmic pattern. Well, at first it sounds awful, but after a few tries you start finding nifty ways to get some interesting sounding stuff out - and of course you can't fall back on the old familiar patterns because they are "against the rules". And then after a few days when I remove the rule and go back to regular improvising, there's always a bit of a new twist to my playing. It works really well, and I think I've made up some of my most interesting phrases this way.



This is a very good suggestion, let me add a few more...

Go for wider sounds. Take a typical major scale, and leave out every other note, and widen your approach.

Take 6 notes and develop permutations for them, so instead of playing 1 2 3 4 5 6

Try 1 6 4 2 5 3 and then apply them to the next 6 - play them slowly looking for melody ideas that you may not have found before

Combine permutations - for example 1 6 4 2 5 3, 6 2 3 1 4 5, and just listen to them... The more notes you have the more permutations you might uncover that sound very cool.

Consider playing off chords and not scales. Is it a major chord? Then try playing 1 3 7 and 9 for example.
#11
Quote by se012101
One thing I've done in the past that's really helped break out of the sameness, is to make up a "rule" and practice improvising within that rule for 10 mins or so. The rule can be anything - like only in this scale, only these intervals, or even only with these fingers, or these strings, or only in this rhythmic pattern. Well, at first it sounds awful, but after a few tries you start finding nifty ways to get some interesting sounding stuff out - and of course you can't fall back on the old familiar patterns because they are "against the rules". And then after a few days when I remove the rule and go back to regular improvising, there's always a bit of a new twist to my playing. It works really well, and I think I've made up some of my most interesting phrases this way.


This is a good thing to do. Purposely limit yourself to something ridiculous which forces you to try something new, and just work with that until it becomes good, and useful.
#12
Quote by isaac_bandits
This is a good thing to do. Purposely limit yourself to something ridiculous which forces you to try something new, and just work with that until it becomes good, and useful.


We may be talking about different things here, but lately I've embraced aspects of minimalism. It is a bit antithetical to your post, but maybe we're just stating it in different ways. I do not consider doing less limiting, in fact, I find it very challenging. Stripping what you play down to what is essential may appear to be a simple concept. This is difficult to explain in a post, but sometimes doing less is far more difficult than doing more.

It's one of those things that took me a long time to learn. What I'm not playing(inferring)is just as important as what I am playing. I know some people will simply see this as double-talk, I used to think so too, but it isn't. The more clearly, and simply you can define your intent, the better.

As for Jamming, and doing improv, I find that the better I know the musical tendencies of the people I'm playing with, the better the jam. A wink and a nod, and almost magically we all go to the same place at the same time. This is not accidental. It is familiarity with the people you're playing with. It can happen spontaneously at times, but for me it is difficult to improv with people I don't know very well.
#13
Well its well said, that the more you play the better you'll become, but it really also requires having the sensitivity to know when musically you've hit a plateau. And so when you deliberately change that approach instead of trying to bull rush through it, you open new doors. You are more accepting of new ideas and things that, frankly before hand your head and mind weren't at the right place to accept at that time. That's ok. Music is a lifelong development, and that's whats so cool about these plateaus, because they bring with it this dissatisfaction that propels us forward, if we will take stock and assess where we are, and where we want to go, we can enter into a new direction of our development as musicians.
#14
Quote by GuitarMunky
again, they don't do anything. it's US that does something with them. When people make the mistakes they do regarding soloing/improve..... it has to do with their approach. (and their are many valid approaches to playing guitar)


You put it well. All of the technical aspects we know and learn are very helpful, but if you can't figure out how use them, what's the point? Ultimately it is up to US to figure out how to use our abilities. We can't blame our "tools". I've seen a guy tear it up on a crappy beginner acoustic guitar. Force of will, or just that good at what he does? I vote for the latter.
#15
I've had this problem too, and when you fill your head with tons of scales its so tempting to think 'inside the box' and just drum out bland solos. Listen to songs you like that have awesome solos and think about what the guitarist is doing/thinking to make it sound good. Try to keep away from generic patterns though. Don't think too much! Just DO. Follow your instincts. Also, when you have a good understanding of intervals/harmonies/etc. that instinct is refined so you just KNOW what sounds good and when.
I would rather be flawed and wise, than perfect and blind.
#16
Quote by Sean0913
Well its well said, that the more you play the better you'll become, but it really also requires having the sensitivity to know when musically you've hit a plateau. And so when you deliberately change that approach instead of trying to bull rush through it, you open new doors. You are more accepting of new ideas and things that, frankly before hand your head and mind weren't at the right place to accept at that time. That's ok. Music is a lifelong development, and that's whats so cool about these plateaus, because they bring with it this dissatisfaction that propels us forward, if we will take stock and assess where we are, and where we want to go, we can enter into a new direction of our development as musicians.


I think that's the first time I've heard someone look at a plateau in such a positive sense. Mostly we look at them as horrible frustrating times when you feel like no matter what you do you will not reach your goals. What you said is true though - during my plateau periods I've dug very deep into trying to understand where the problems in my playing are - be it musical things or technique things - and I think that I learned a lot during those periods. I'm definately going to keep your outlook on this in the back of the mind for next time I feel like I'm in a rut.
#17
Quote by Broken-pick
I realized that every time I improvise, my solo sounds very stale and predictable. What can I do to make it sound more creative? I do use different techniques but I find it a lil 'scaley'. I can't seem to break the connection between the boxes.

i think id have to hear you play before i could give you good advice. lots of people seem to ask this question. one thing that helped me was i stopped trying to play well and just played. i think people tend to over think their playing and are too obsessed with being a really good player or playing fast. nothing wrong with being technically proficient or fast, but i find i just play better when im not trying to cram as many notes as i can and play the best licks i know. actually, i find i can play faster when im not trying to play fast. sounds odd but it works. you have to think about the actual notes and phrasing. if you just try to move fast, it probably wont sound very good. you will probably tense up too, slowing you down.

same applies to playing better leads in general. focus on the notes and phrasing. try to tell a story. close your eyes if it helps. i never did that for a long time. but ive started closing my eyes and i find it helps. im not really sure why. maybe because im not watching my fingers im a little more open to new ideas? im not as focused on playing cool licks and runs and im playing by sound more i think.

anyway, the patterns and shapes are hardly the problem. its just how we use them and how we think about playing.
#18
Quote by Blind In 1 Ear
try to tell a story.


Yes! Exactly! This is what I tell visual artists. Why is this work important to you? What's the story you're trying to tell? I feel better now. I'm not the only one who feels that way
#19
Idk, I dont know a single scale and I have pretty lively improv solos, despite all my mistakes, but they sound good, I say don't try to follow scales as much, and just play from the heart and play what sounds good to you.

My famous quote is "Play with feel, emotion is your best weapon."
#20
Quote by se012101
I think that's the first time I've heard someone look at a plateau in such a positive sense. Mostly we look at them as horrible frustrating times when you feel like no matter what you do you will not reach your goals. What you said is true though - during my plateau periods I've dug very deep into trying to understand where the problems in my playing are - be it musical things or technique things - and I think that I learned a lot during those periods. I'm definately going to keep your outlook on this in the back of the mind for next time I feel like I'm in a rut.

The thing with guitar is that there's no law that says you have to be getting better all the time, and just because you seem to have stopped improving doesn't mean you've stopped being good. It's just as important to be able to take a step back, appreciate how far you've come and simply enjoy playing....after all no matter how flat or wide the plateau, it's still a damnsight higher than the floor
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#21
This is another way of saying what's been said already, but it really helped me. The best teacher I ever had, told me that you should never play anything, unless it has something to do with what you just played. It's just like carrying on a conversation.
ex. Let's say you're telling a story. "I got together with my friends and we went out to eat, then to a movie. And then we met some girls, etc."
You wouldn't say, "I got together with my friends. Last night I watched so and so on tv. My car needs an oil change. Do I look fat?" If someone was talking to you like that, you'd think they were retarded. LISTEN to what you are playing and try to respond to it.
It's all about phrasing. A good way to work on this, is to take 4 notes. You can only play these 4 notes. Concentrate on creating phrases with those notes. Don't just play licks, make music. This is a lot more difficult then it might seem. But with time and practice, you'll get better at it. Eventually your personality will come out in your playing.
There's my way and the wrong way.