#1
Hey guys, this is my first thread. I thought this would be a great place to get some good tips as I've been playing for six years and I've hit a plateau in the past year. I've been playing a lot of Hendrix-type pentatonic blues, but I feel like I'm playing the scales the same way every time, and I'm running out of ways to give the pentatonic scale some variety. It could just be that I'm lacking imagination and not opening my mind up. Anybody have tips for getting different, unique sounds every time?
#2
There is no easy answer to this unfortunately. People tout scales as a sort of shortcut to awesome guitar playing but like everything else it is simply a tool at your disposal. This is not to say that learning a few scales won't improve your playing but at the end of the day, as with anything, knowledge is power. IMO note choice is more important than learning scales (Slash gets away with almost exclusively using the minor pentatonic) so try and get the scale out of your head and instead just concentrate on the 'sound' itself, put aside any fears of playing the 'wrong' note and experiment, you may be surprised at the different sounds you can make by changing a few notes.

Learning songs/solos that are out of your comfort zone (which I'm assuming is Hendrix-esque Blues Rock) will go a long way to improving your playing. So try some country or jazz or classical for added inspiration. Most importantly just keep plugging away mate, there's no substitute for hard work, grit and determination.
#3
Quote by Gu1T@r_H3r0
There is no easy answer to this unfortunately. People tout scales as a sort of shortcut to awesome guitar playing but like everything else it is simply a tool at your disposal. This is not to say that learning a few scales won't improve your playing but at the end of the day, as with anything, knowledge is power. IMO note choice is more important than learning scales (Slash gets away with almost exclusively using the minor pentatonic) so try and get the scale out of your head and instead just concentrate on the 'sound' itself, put aside any fears of playing the 'wrong' note and experiment, you may be surprised at the different sounds you can make by changing a few notes.

Learning songs/solos that are out of your comfort zone (which I'm assuming is Hendrix-esque Blues Rock) will go a long way to improving your playing. So try some country or jazz or classical for added inspiration. Most importantly just keep plugging away mate, there's no substitute for hard work, grit and determination.



Top shelf response, bud! I'll look to try something different when I get home tonight. Gonna keep plugging away though.
#4
Scales are just an arrangement of intervals of sound in octaves. If you know the sound of all the intervals, then hmmm... Things to keep in mind:

1) you can use notes outside of the scale, but be aware if you create tension through dissonance, know if you want to resolve it.
2) Learn about chord tones and non-chord tones
3) Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it. This is phrasing.

I would say ditch learning most scales except for the major scale ... if you want something like...say.. an oriental sound, instead of learning some exotic sounding scale name, learn string music of that type by ear.
#5
Scales aren't a shortcut for anything, they're just a really practical way to work on a variety of skills.

I always recommend having your 12 major scales ready to play, anywhere on the fretboard. It's just like a writer knowing how to spell all the words they want to use.

If you're concerned your playing is stagnating, take a step back and analyze your playing a bit. Just what are you doing over and over?

Whatever it is, you can always sit down and work on stuff that is intentionally different. Spend some time practicing scales in new ways - in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, etc; or with double stops; with hammers/pulls; in different positions... And then start working those into your playing.

It's very productive to sit down and play "dry" scale patterns in music, slowly applying your own feel to them as you get more comfortable. Then, those little patterns can become the basis of licks or runs you can use at will.
#6
As well as what's been mentioned, I think that focusing a lot on developing your ears is really helpful. (All of the guitarists I personally know who improvise at a high level have awesome ears). A few approaches that I've found really helpful in my own playing are...

1. Transcribing all the solos and licks you learn by ear only. If you only learn from Tabs, I feel this can really hinder the development of your pitch perception.

2. Learning to sing all the licks you learn. Obviously, you might need to transpose the lick down an octave or two if it is beyond your singing register.

3. Doing formalized ear training exercises. These often involve singing intervals, scales and arpeggios.

I found in my own playing, that my improvisation improved a lot when I started taking developing my ears a lot more seriously!
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#7
Quote by brojaysimpson
Hey guys, this is my first thread. I thought this would be a great place to get some good tips as I've been playing for six years and I've hit a plateau in the past year. I've been playing a lot of Hendrix-type pentatonic blues, but I feel like I'm playing the scales the same way every time, and I'm running out of ways to give the pentatonic scale some variety. It could just be that I'm lacking imagination and not opening my mind up. Anybody have tips for getting different, unique sounds every time?

scale sequences can add some style to scale runs and open you up to new ideas. i find using the "dorian" modal shape in a bluesy thing usually works pretty well or like a funky thing or something a little jazzy. it can work in minor blues, but i find the minor scale works best. from there try some mixolydian licks in. i find if i use the dorian and mixolydian and blues scale, i have a pretty good amount of notes to mix and match for passing tones.

PLEASE DON'T confuse this with modal playing which is something different. i'm just talking about using the patterns to organize your passing tones. that's what i did and still do today although i know my neck pretty well these days so i just see it as one big scale and i pick the notes i want and use patterns for reference when needed.

look up eric johnson for pentatonic sequences, he uses them a lot. it's just melodic patterns to break up the scale to make things more interesting for faster runs. for playing with more style which it seems like that's kind of what you want, try listening to other types of music for new ideas. try to practice improvising as much as possible and make an effort to make new licks and make the ones you know smoother. try playing a certain pattern in a different scale shape to see what new sounds it can bring out and maybe new ideas. turn on the radio and make guitar parts that compliment the song, don't just play what you hear. all this gets your mind to think more creatively and eventually, you wont have to make an effort and you will just be that way. that's the way i approach playing any instrument and i can pretty much fake my way through any style now so i know it works. if you always play with some level of improvisation, i think you'll always improve because it keeps you looking for new ideas.

hope that helps a bit.
#8
As people have said, it's not that much about what scales you play. It's about how you play them. To me it sounds like you are playing more with your fingers and less with your ears.

A good guitarist can play awesome stuff with only five notes. Actually he could play awesome stuff with only three notes. There's more to soloing than just scales or notes you use. Of course sometimes it's cool to play some more dissonant notes and not just stay in the pentatonic scale. But you need to use your ears to learn to use those notes. But yeah, there's another important thing in soloing and it's rhythm. Play more interesting rhythms, not just 8ths all the time. Use triplets, 16ths, syncopation, long sustained notes... Also use different techniques. Your playing may sound repetitive because you use too much bends or pick all the notes when you could use pull offs and hammer ons or you only play same rhythms.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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