I've been playing for a couple years and have been working on soloing and improv'ing over backing tracks and songs. I know my pentatonic scales pretty well and have taken a liking to use those select few notes in a key to solo over a variety of songs successfully.

However, I feel it's an 'easy' or 'lazy' way to improv over something. It does seem like I'm playing similar licks and a repetitive group of notes sometimes, but even when I break away from the box and try to play up and down the fretboard, my phrases always seem to be restricted by the 'notes that sound good' within the pentatonic scale.

I've looked into modal playing, and it has added some color to some of my soloing, but I feel as if modes are irrelevant to the mostly 'monotonic' songs I'm playing over. In any case, I'm incapable of instantly figuring out what mode to play after each and every chord change in a song.

tl:dr -- In what ways can I branch away from playing the pentatonic scales to make my solos more interesting?
I can't wait till my fro is full grown.

If you aren't able to find meaning and find it easy and lazy, then you missed the point. There are no brownie points for the scales you use, but lots of respect due to HOW you use them. It's what you say, not what you use to say it, that means anything.

I look at the pentatonic as one phase of learning to express one's self. Your wanting to branch out of this, is a natural outcome of developing things to a certain point, but it's unfortunate to judge the horse that got you here, as lazy or easy. If you didn't have it to ride this far, you wouldn't have made it here.

If you want to move on play the major scale. Add 2 notes, the two that can get you into trouble if you dont know what you are doing. Also start playing using chord tones that are targeted every time the chords change. You won't find that to be easy or lazy. Its a lot of hard work.

Good luck.


+1,000,000 to Sean.
Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything.

—Chick Corea
getting out of the pentatonic/blues scale is a common issue.
for starters I suggest the following:
1. learn to create tension by using side stepping using the pentatonic scale, this is a widely used device in fusion. there are numerous youtube videos explaining this technique.
2. learn the major scale.
3. listen to some jazz/fusion so you can internalize the sounds
+1 to sean,

Also, pentatonic doesn't have to limiting. Learn licks from other players, SRV, Hendrix, Clapton, John Mayer all these guys can make a pentatonic lick sound incredibly good and it makes you think "why didn't I think of that?" the key is to learn their licks, and you'll have good examples of playing, interesting ideas and hopefully it will allow you to try out your own stuff.
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