I know you can use scales when you are soloing, but how does that happen? How would I use a scale to improvise a solo?
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That's a reeeeeeeeeally big topic
In a verrry basic sense, let's say your song is in c minor. play notes in the c minor scale.
Its a very broad topic, because theres so many scales and modes to use, and it really comes down to what style/sound you want on that particular solo. If you know your scales, just pick which one you wanna use, and play any notes in that scale (presuming its in the same scale as the chords underneath)
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I know you can use scales when you are soloing, but how does that happen? How would I use a scale to improvise a solo?

By playing it on an instrument.
as an example - instead of thinking about every single note in your improvised solos, you can focus on target notes and use the scale notes in patterns to get to those target notes.
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I only use the scales to know what notes to play without changing key.
The scales are not there to make solos for you, so go practice.
Find the key of the song, then find the matching scale. Song in F major? Then choose an F major scale. This is basically gives you a set of notes that will sound good over the song.

That's just the basics however. Songs can change keys sometimes or have chords that don't belong in the key and you'll have to adjust for that or it won't sound right. Eventually you'll want to use out of key notes in order to create tension as well as many other soloing/lead ideas.

For starting out though, find some backing tracks and find out what key it is in. Then play that scale over the backing track (but not just straight up and down, make it melodic or it's pointless). After that, then you'll want to move on to more advanced techniques.

If you want to know WHY that set of notes works with that particular chord progression, you'll have to learn a bit of theory.
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You use the notes to make the music.
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You can use the notes of a scale to solo over the backing track. The notes of an appropriate scale well generally sound 'good' when played over it. Of course, there's much more to it than that. As for which scale to choose... well learn some music theory and all will become clear. Here's a good place to start...
the best way to become good at improvising is to start by practicing ONE scale to death
for most guitarists its the first position of the minor pentatonic or the blues scale
with enough practice of this ONE scale of your choosing you should soon unconsciously know exactly how it sounds all over the fretboard (muscle memory and all that)

It is at this point that you will be able to improvise
look up "scale sequences", it will help you get used to breaking up the scale into musical patterns.

everything is scales really. any lick you know is play a scale. even playing chords is really just harmonizing notes from a scale. the best thing to improve your improv is just to keep improv'ing. you have to practice it as much as anything else.
You play a scale up and down until your parents ground you for life for torturing them.

...modes and scales are still useless.

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