#1
Okay, so whenever I am improvising a blues solo, I feel like everything is very repetitive. I play over the same scale and whatnot so I need help. Should I limit myself to just the pentatonic scales? Or are there other scales I can play solos off of in blues? I have noticed a lot of blues musicians don't just stick to pentatonic scales, but guitarists like Dan Auerbach rarely stray from them, and he can play some killer solos. Can anybody help me basically knowing what scales to play in, lets say, E minor?
#2
So you are just using the blues scale? I think the four scales you really need to use for anything is the major, blues, minor pentatonic, and natural harmonic. I will say that Dan uses the blues scale in A almost exclusively. Remember that the pentatonic scales connect and the notes are a step apart. So slide into another position and play a similar note to bind the solo in a sense.
#3
You should stop thinking about scales and be concious of the chords, building lines from the harmonic movement. A scale isn't going to tell you what note to hit when, in the context of changes occuring. And the changes of a blues itself are such that they tend to defy sticking to a scale in the first place.
#4
Quote by COREYTAYLOR721
So you are just using the blues scale? I think the four scales you really need to use for anything is the major, blues, minor pentatonic, and natural harmonic. I will say that Dan uses the blues scale in A almost exclusively. Remember that the pentatonic scales connect and the notes are a step apart. So slide into another position and play a similar note to bind the solo in a sense.

But what notes are those scales? I guess I can just look them up.
#5
Quote by Brainpolice2
You should stop thinking about scales and be concious of the chords, building lines from the harmonic movement. A scale isn't going to tell you what note to hit when, in the context of changes occuring. And the changes of a blues itself are such that they tend to defy sticking to a scale in the first place.

Which means what for me? I don't know what notes to play otherwise if I am not using a scale.
#6
Quote by DrewMeyer
Which means what for me? I don't know what notes to play otherwise if I am not using a scale.

You should study arpeggios.
#8
Quote by DrewMeyer
Any article on UG about that?

Nah, Munky has a good site though.

http://www.discoverguitaronline.com/diagrams/browse/arpeggios

You should memorize the shapes gradually which takes time. Then solo using only arpeggios. It'll sound bland at first, but it's the best way to train your ear to recognize chord tones.

12 bar blues is the ideal starting point for practicing these.
#9
You should quit worrying about 'what scale can I use'.

There are 12 notes and host of techniques to alter, shade and/or highlight them, feel free to use as many, or as few, as you want...

It's about pleasing the ear, not the paper.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#10
the "right" note is always a half step away anyway.
Quote by Banjocal
sht up u flthy librl foogit stfu u soo mad n butthurdt ur ass is an analpocolypse cuz ur so gay "my ass hrts so mcuh" - u. your rectally vexed n anlly angushed lolo go bck 2 asslnd lolol
#11
You should probably study the circle of fifths. That is what I am doing and it helps you to know what notes the scale consists of and how many sharps there are.
#12
Quote by DrewMeyer
Okay, so whenever I am improvising a blues solo, I feel like everything is very repetitive. I play over the same scale and whatnot so I need help.


The first and most important thing you need to do is to develop your ear.

The situation you find yourself in is a VERY common one. It happens because you know the scales as physical patterns on the fretboard, but you don't have control over them - essentially your solos are you thinking about how to move your fingers around.

But great improvisation isn't about your fingers - it's about your mind imagining sounds and you creating them on your guitar.

When somebody in your position focuses on learning new scales, they are essentially adding a cookie cutter to their collection. You have one cookie cutter - "the minor pentatonic cookie cutter" and you can add another one, but why do you want to use cookie cutters?

So work on your ear. Download the functional ear trainer from Miles.Be (it's free!) and get a good book on ear training (I recommend Wyatt et al's "Ear TRaining for the Contemporary Musician") and get to work. Ear training is slow and hard for some people, but you WILL make progress over time.

And it will change the way you solo more dramatically than any new scale could.
#13
Quote by HotspurJr
The first and most important thing you need to do is to develop your ear.

The situation you find yourself in is a VERY common one. It happens because you know the scales as physical patterns on the fretboard, but you don't have control over them - essentially your solos are you thinking about how to move your fingers around.

But great improvisation isn't about your fingers - it's about your mind imagining sounds and you creating them on your guitar.

When somebody in your position focuses on learning new scales, they are essentially adding a cookie cutter to their collection. You have one cookie cutter - "the minor pentatonic cookie cutter" and you can add another one, but why do you want to use cookie cutters?

So work on your ear. Download the functional ear trainer from Miles.Be (it's free!) and get a good book on ear training (I recommend Wyatt et al's "Ear TRaining for the Contemporary Musician") and get to work. Ear training is slow and hard for some people, but you WILL make progress over time.

And it will change the way you solo more dramatically than any new scale could.

Oh, well thanks! Could you send me a link to Miles ear trainer?
#14
He already did
Miles.be is the link
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The Byzantine scale was useful until the Ottoman scale came around and totally annihilated it.
#15
Quote by Arby911
You should quit worrying about 'what scale can I use'.

There are 12 notes and host of techniques to alter, shade and/or highlight them, feel free to use as many, or as few, as you want...

It's about pleasing the ear, not the paper.

So you are saying I should just use every note there is? I know for a fact almost every blues musician bases their solo off of a scale.
#16
Quote by mrkeka
He already did
Miles.be is the link

Oh ok, my bad. Thanks, didn't know that was a link.
#17
Quote by DrewMeyer
So you are saying I should just use every note there is? I know for a fact almost every blues musician bases their solo off of a scale.


What will eventually happen is that you will find yourself using notes outside the scale.

One thing I do a lot is switch between the minor and major pentatonic. This is, for example, a very common blues technique - using PARALLEL (not relative) scales. Or you'll start using accidentals - someone might thrown in the flat sixth in a major solo, for example.

HOWEVER - all of this has to flow from your ear. One of the biggest mistakes I see musicians make, on this board and elsewhere, is to hit a wall with their soloing and think the solution is to learn a new scale. I'm a little hesitant even to mention the stuff about mixing pentatonics because I know that can really lead you down the wrong path.

If you aren't at a place where you can think a sound and then play it, then learning more scales will not solve your problem.
#18
Quote by HotspurJr
What will eventually happen is that you will find yourself using notes outside the scale.

One thing I do a lot is switch between the minor and major pentatonic. This is, for example, a very common blues technique - using PARALLEL (not relative) scales. Or you'll start using accidentals - someone might thrown in the flat sixth in a major solo, for example.

HOWEVER - all of this has to flow from your ear. One of the biggest mistakes I see musicians make, on this board and elsewhere, is to hit a wall with their soloing and think the solution is to learn a new scale. I'm a little hesitant even to mention the stuff about mixing pentatonics because I know that can really lead you down the wrong path.

If you aren't at a place where you can think a sound and then play it, then learning more scales will not solve your problem.

So what would you suggest? Should I just play notes over a backing track and see what sounds good to me? And what do you mean by parallel and relative scales?
#19
Quote by DrewMeyer
So what would you suggest? Should I just play notes over a backing track and see what sounds good to me?


No. Start with the ear training program I outlined above. Spend some time on that regularly - three to five times a week.

This will be practice away from your guitar, but it's super important.

When you do practice over backing tracks (which is much more important than just practicing over nothing) do it over backing tracks you make, so that you know and control the changes. Start with really simple backing tracks: four bars of A major, for example, followed by four bars of E. Loop it. (Easy to do in Garageband on a Mac. I'm sure there's something similar for a PC).

SUPER simple. Stay in your pentatonic scales (those are the easiest for your brain to understand and thus for you to start making the mind-fretboard link) and don't worry about being fast or flashy, focus on the sound.

Try things like singing a line and then playing it.

Be aware of the chord change. Staying in the same scale, how does that change how your notes sound?

Be aware of your tonic. If you're soloing in Am pentatonic, try and start and end each phrase with the note A. See how this affects everything else.

Try other simple backing tracks. Using Am and C major as your two chords in your backing track is a good one, too - because the Am and C major scale use the same notes. This will probably make it easy to notice what the tonic does to you - if you are playing ideas that resolve to C, it will sound very different from ideas that resolve to A. Experiment. Again - the emphasis is not on playing fast, but on hearing what you're doing and KNOWING what things are going to sound like before you play them.

You should never be surprised by the notes coming out of your instrument. This will be very hard at first, but really try to think of an idea you want to play - even if it's only two or three notes - and then play it. And if you play it "wrong" - if the notes coming out of your guitar are not what you hear in your head, then try again - and keep trying until you find it.

(As you get better, you'll be able to do this with more and more complex ideas. But for now, even a one or two note idea will be good).

But don't let this stuff at the guitar distract you from the ear training book and the functional ear trainer. The key skills you have to develop are not in your fingers, they are in your head.

And what do you mean by parallel and relative scales?


Parallel scales are scales which have the same tonic. So, for example, E major and E minor are parallel scales.

Relative scales are scales which contain the same notes. So, for example, G major and E minor are relative scales.

The fact that you're asking this question tells me something about your theory knowledge level - get the Wyatt book I mentioned above. It'll teach you a fair bit of basic theory in the process of learning to hear it. This is important stuff.
#20
Quote by HotspurJr
No. Start with the ear training program I outlined above. Spend some time on that regularly - three to five times a week.

This will be practice away from your guitar, but it's super important.

When you do practice over backing tracks (which is much more important than just practicing over nothing) do it over backing tracks you make, so that you know and control the changes. Start with really simple backing tracks: four bars of A major, for example, followed by four bars of E. Loop it. (Easy to do in Garageband on a Mac. I'm sure there's something similar for a PC).

SUPER simple. Stay in your pentatonic scales (those are the easiest for your brain to understand and thus for you to start making the mind-fretboard link) and don't worry about being fast or flashy, focus on the sound.

Try things like singing a line and then playing it.

Be aware of the chord change. Staying in the same scale, how does that change how your notes sound?

Be aware of your tonic. If you're soloing in Am pentatonic, try and start and end each phrase with the note A. See how this affects everything else.

Try other simple backing tracks. Using Am and C major as your two chords in your backing track is a good one, too - because the Am and C major scale use the same notes. This will probably make it easy to notice what the tonic does to you - if you are playing ideas that resolve to C, it will sound very different from ideas that resolve to A. Experiment. Again - the emphasis is not on playing fast, but on hearing what you're doing and KNOWING what things are going to sound like before you play them.

You should never be surprised by the notes coming out of your instrument. This will be very hard at first, but really try to think of an idea you want to play - even if it's only two or three notes - and then play it. And if you play it "wrong" - if the notes coming out of your guitar are not what you hear in your head, then try again - and keep trying until you find it.

(As you get better, you'll be able to do this with more and more complex ideas. But for now, even a one or two note idea will be good).

But don't let this stuff at the guitar distract you from the ear training book and the functional ear trainer. The key skills you have to develop are not in your fingers, they are in your head.


Parallel scales are scales which have the same tonic. So, for example, E major and E minor are parallel scales.

Relative scales are scales which contain the same notes. So, for example, G major and E minor are relative scales.

The fact that you're asking this question tells me something about your theory knowledge level - get the Wyatt book I mentioned above. It'll teach you a fair bit of basic theory in the process of learning to hear it. This is important stuff.

Okay thanks! I will do this. I will start on the functional ear trainer right now.
#21
Quote by DrewMeyer
So you are saying I should just use every note there is? I know for a fact almost every blues musician bases their solo off of a scale.


No, that's not what I said, and many of the older blues masters didn't know a scale from a salmon...
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#23
Quote by Arby911
No, that's not what I said, and many of the older blues masters didn't know a scale from a salmon...

Well not older blues musicians, but more modern musicians definitely use scales. For example (even though he isn't a true blues guitarist) Dan Auerbach almost exclusively uses the pentatonic scales to make his riffs and solos.
#24
Quote by ouchies
Knowing how to comp will help your soloing as far as feel, rhythm and playing the changes.

Yes. TS, focus on guide tones.
#26
Quote by DrewMeyer
Okay, so whenever I am improvising a blues solo, I feel like everything is very repetitive. I play over the same scale and whatnot so I need help. Should I limit myself to just the pentatonic scales? Or are there other scales I can play solos off of in blues? I have noticed a lot of blues musicians don't just stick to pentatonic scales, but guitarists like Dan Auerbach rarely stray from them, and he can play some killer solos. Can anybody help me basically knowing what scales to play in, lets say, E minor?


to get the best out of your blues you will need:
major scale, Minor scale, pentatonic, blues scale.
Quote by element4433
One time I watched a dog lick his own dick for twenty minutes.

Quote by Roc8995
No.


Well, technically it could be done, but only in the same way that you could change a cat into a hamburger. It's an unpleasant process, and nobody is happy with the result.
#27
Quote by DrewMeyer
Well not older blues musicians, but more modern musicians definitely use scales. For example (even though he isn't a true blues guitarist) Dan Auerbach almost exclusively uses the pentatonic scales to make his riffs and solos.


I give up. You win. Use what you want.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#28
Hi,I've played blues guitar for 45 years as my living.HotspurJr,s advice is right on.You may wanna sit down for a day or two and just listen to your favorite blues guitarists.See which style appeals tu you or is closest to yours.And it's not a race,it's a feeling.A lot of times you can say more with 5 notes than 50.Practice bending your notes,ending up in the proper key,And a lotta wanna be blues players end a phrase on the wrong note.It's like speaking a sentence and leaving off the last.See what I mean,WORD.Personally I'd reccomend Buddy Guy,Eric Clapton,Robert Cray,Kenny Wayne Sheppard.When your technical ability catches up with what you wanna do listen to Jeff Beck.He has a habit of pushing the envelope and making it work.And Clapton has a way of taking very difficult licks and making them sound easy.You obviously know your scales,now concentrate on what you want to say.panhead201
Last edited by panhead201 at Mar 26, 2012,
#29
Older blues musicians may very well not know a scale from a salmon,but any note they're playing in key is obviously part of an applicable scale.Try laying down a rythm track,12 bar blues in E for the sake of argument,and it's the easiest place to start,then lay down a second track using 7th,s,double the timing,whatever,as long as it fits,.Play the second track and slide UP to your key.In blues,sliding down to your key rarely works,especially on slide guitar.Stop at the top,we call it.And don't get stuck in one octave unless you have a 12 fret guitar.If I can figure how to lay down some live stuff,or download some sheets,I'll try to show you what I mean.I STINK at computer.Just never used one that was'nt a studio interface,never wen't online.panhead201.....at least he's TRYING to learn,Arby,thats more than you can say about a bunch of em.They just get hung up on the theory,not the music
Last edited by panhead201 at Mar 26, 2012,
#30
Quote by DrewMeyer
Which means what for me? I don't know what notes to play otherwise if I am not using a scale.


Think of the key signature as serving that function. So a normal 12 bar blues in C is a C major key signature (which happens to spell out a C major
"scale").

Now, on top of the key signature setting the framework, we have specific chords going on. C7, for example, the first chord in a 12 bar in C. If we're concious of the notes of the chord, we can then selectively target notes that are consonant with the chords, including accidentals/notes-outside-the-key-signature as needed, to the extent that they are chord tones. C7, for example, includes a Bb - which isn't in the C major scale.

Hence, when following the changes, we can no longer really think in terms of sticking to a scale so much as just notes and intervals in general. The key signature is our foundation, and the chords are our melodic guide.
#31
It seems to me that we're just getting hung up on the definitions here.If I told you what notes to play,who's improvising,me or you.You know the key,you know the timing,you know your scales.In practice,pick a phrase.Make one up.Play it It either fits or it does'nt.Make it work,or throw it out.Try something else.Say what you wanna say.There is no improvisation scale or there would'nt be any improvisation.Hit a note,then hit another one.See what works for you.Of course you're thinking.Of course it's based on things you already know.Then play the same song and try something different.When you've been playing a long time you don't really consciously think about what you'll do next.Theres hundreds of possibilities,decisions you can make because you know what fits.The more you play,the more you experiment,the more you learn.It's hard to put into words,to explain,but you'll see it after a while.I hope.I guess I just can't explain it any better than that.But that's not your fault.
#32
It seems to me that we're just getting hung up on the definitions here.If I told you what notes to play,who's improvising,me or you.


I'm not specifically telling the OP what notes to play when or what exact lines to play, but filling in a gap in their knowledge that they can use as a guide to play with the changes (not an unimportant thing).

If the OP feels like they are in a rut in which they are always imposing a scale or two over a blues without necessarily having regard for the changes, or useage of pentatonics and the blues scale is just getting stale in some way, then it makes sense to suggest getting into a chord tone approach.

In terms of getting into playing blues, just having minor pentatonics and the blues scale is going to be pretty limiting, but the answer won't necessarily lie in more scales. It's a matter of conciousness of various forms and variations, and the melodic sensibilities contained within.
#33
I see your point and you're explaining it well.It sounds like great advice,but it sounds like a self defeating question.Doctor,it hurts when I go like this."don't go like this anymore.That'll be $150 bucks,please."
#34
Quote by panhead201
Hi,I've played blues guitar for 45 years as my living.HotspurJr,s advice is right on.You may wanna sit down for a day or two and just listen to your favorite blues guitarists.See which style appeals tu you or is closest to yours.And it's not a race,it's a feeling.A lot of times you can say more with 5 notes than 50.Practice bending your notes,ending up in the proper key,And a lotta wanna be blues players end a phrase on the wrong note.It's like speaking a sentence and leaving off the last.See what I mean,WORD.Personally I'd reccomend Buddy Guy,Eric Clapton,Robert Cray,Kenny Wayne Sheppard.When your technical ability catches up with what you wanna do listen to Jeff Beck.He has a habit of pushing the envelope and making it work.And Clapton has a way of taking very difficult licks and making them sound easy.You obviously know your scales,now concentrate on what you want to say.panhead201

That is probably the best piece of advice I have gotten so far. Instead of telling me to learn arpeggios or something of the sort you are just telling me to figure out how to play with what I know now. Thanks, I'll put this advice to use.
#35
Thank you and learn more every day,When you see an old black lady sitting in the front of the bus,or when you see a wino on the corner or when you see two kids fighting,or a three legged dog learn from it,think about put it in your music.panhead.
#36
Quote by Arby911
I give up. You win. Use what you want.

Well what do you suggest, all you have told me is to not use scales.
#37
Quote by DrewMeyer
Well what do you suggest, all you have told me is to not use scales.

No,if thats how you took it,i'm sorry.Of course use scales,you have to,but don,t get stuck in em.Break it up,listen to your favorites,copy em then change em your interpretation.your feeling,what you would have done instead.Change the # of notes bend to a note instead of hitting it outright.It's hard for me to find a coherent way of explaining it.I'll try to make some sense and get back to you.I'm trying to figure out a way to post my music,most copyrighted the last not.When I figure it out I'll tell you.There are two covers in it.I'll post one of those,you can compare it to the original,my original,and my new version.You can see how I've improvised myself.You picked a really hard thing to explain.I'll try and help all I can.panhead201
#38
Another thing that I would like to add to some of the things that everybody here is saying is that phrasing is extremely important. Sometimes it's not "what notes" but a matter of how those notes are played. The rhythm in which they are played.

Think about it this way. Rock..blues..jazz..reggae..whatever. They can all use the same pentatonic scale but have a completely different feel to them. That's because the way the notes are played are different. Hence the phrasing. Listen to blues and really listen to how they phrase the licks they play. The timing of the licks, the rhythm of the licks, and the attack of the licks will help give a more "bluesy" feel over what specific notes to play. Try and really emulate the blues musicians you like. Learn they're solos note for note BY EAR, try to incorporate them into your own playing, and you'll soon start to see your style evolve.
#39
Quote by SEANannigans
Another thing that I would like to add to some of the things that everybody here is saying is that phrasing is extremely important. Sometimes it's not "what notes" but a matter of how those notes are played. The rhythm in which they are played.

Think about it this way. Rock..blues..jazz..reggae..whatever. They can all use the same pentatonic scale but have a completely different feel to them. That's because the way the notes are played are different. Hence the phrasing. Listen to blues and really listen to how they phrase the licks they play. The timing of the licks, the rhythm of the licks, and the attack of the licks will help give a more "bluesy" feel over what specific notes to play. Try and really emulate the blues musicians you like. Learn they're solos note for note BY EAR, try to incorporate them into your own playing, and you'll soon start to see your style evolve.

Hi,DrewMeyer,I thought you had music in mind.When you wrote what you did.I went through my stuff and I've picked out three things I'll try to download.Everything I picked involves just a guitar and amp.I've got a cover of Wilson Pickett,s Mustang Sally.No matter country you live in you ought to be able to find the original and 50 covers.This is my version.The others,one is an instrumental that has extended solo,s in it.You should get a good idea of what I'm talking about.I was able to pull the vocal track,usually I have to have a guitar or harmonica in my hands,on this one I did'nt.The third is on an acoustic,slide dobro,etcsynth.But the guitar solo,s are very obvious.They are in three timings,nothing but my guitar and whatever pedal came with the amp.Most of it is on a Les Paul with P-90,s or an ES-330 with humbuckers so you should be able to come close without FX.Two are copyrighted obviously and the third is in the works.My problem is that it's been burned to cd or on 1 1/2 supertape.If I have to download mp3,s it'll take a little while.Sorry,thats just my personal choice when recording.Its slow like me.Give me a day or so.Thanks,man...panhead201 AndSEANannigans said what I'm trying to only better.
Last edited by panhead201 at Mar 30, 2012,
#40
I looked into posting copyrighted stuff.It's a real pain in the ass.If you live in the US PM me an adress.I'll send you a cd of my stuff,when youcan play it,we'll talk.panhead201 The stuff,one cover done by me,the rest mine,so it's for your personal use.