Hey guys,

I am sorry to bore you with this, but any help would be great. I have been playing guitar for 5 months now and have started to get my head around theory. I basically just **** around on pentatonics over backing tracks, but was wondering if that was it?

If I'm playing in say, Em , then I do jump up or down 5 semitones, which usually also sounds good, or i play the relative major pentatonic to Em. Is there anything else i can do to vary my licks and use more of the fret board?

Cheers guys
Last edited by Johan_Lahs at Jun 26, 2011,
There are a ton of useful tricks in improvising. but you should definitely expand your scale vocabulary first. Learn your major and minor scales all around the fret board. Also, know what notes your hitting and try to play exactly what you're thinking about in your head. A good exercise for that is starting off a solo and only give yourself the option to use three notes (or less!) during the solo. That way you have to think about what might sound good using these notes. I've found a lot of people (including myself!) will just hammer out random passages using box shapes and have no real knowledge of what they just played or what they are going to play and aren't really making any musical statements. And that is very essential to making your improv sound convincing to a listener.
"Forget the rules. If it sounds good, it is good."
-Eddie Van Halen
I agree with skully, an obvious move would be to learn more than just the pentatonic boxes. Learn all of your modes. That'll make you "see" the fretboard clearer, so to speak. Once you learn some more scales try playing notes that go along with the chords in the progression. In the key of Em for example, no matter what the chord progression is the e minor scale will work, however you should try changing your melody as the chord progression changes. For example if the progression went from Em to Am, when it switches to Am you could change from your Em scale to an A Dorian mode. Using the guide tones (notes within the chord) like I mentioned earlier makes a huge difference, and that's pretty much what I'm working on getting down at the moment. Of course don't limit yourself to those notes, but be aware of which ones are available at the moment.
Write your solos like a story, have a beginning, something to build up, then a climax, then something to lead out of the climax, and then end your solo with something memorable. Basically, work on your phrasing. It's not the amount of notes, or what notes you use, it's how you use them.
please dont listen to the dude talking about modes. They are WAY down the road from where you are now. He or she has good intentions, but try not to wrap you head around modes just yet. The pentatonics are awesome. All of blues and rock has been 99% based on that scale. But it's only five notes? But since those five notes are purposely chosen to form such scale, all the notes in it will sound really good. Try some bending on the e b and g strings. Try some fast runs from the lower notes to the very top ones. Maybe some fast hammer on/pull off licks. Listen to ANY rock solo, and see what you can borrow from it. Try some pink floyd, zep, and rhcp solos. When you feel like you have mastered this basic basic scale, try to fill in the gaps in the pentatonic scales. Add two notes and you have the full diatonic minor or major scale. And that's when things really get interesting. Whenever you can easily switch between diatonic licks and pentatonic licks, your solos will really start to stand out. So, where exactly should you start? Learn some basic theory, learn what the pentatonic scale actually is. Learn it all over the neck. Then work on technique. Then listen to more good music. Then learn whats in the diatonic scales and what makes it work. Learning the theory as well will REALLY help you alot more than just memorizing a bunch of shapes on the fret board. Good luck man!!!
by the time you read this you will be wasting your time because it doesnt say anything