Ok, so usually when I get in on a jam session I bust out my pentatonic skills and just go ham and usually it sucks but sometimes we come up with some of the most awesome sh** ever. Recently I've been jamming with a REALLY good drummer who wants to get serious and write some songs, but I just cant seem to hack it with only pentatonics. He gets really mad and says he's gonna quit, but I seriously don't want this to be over between him and I so... Can I get some help here?

I read one book on like 25 different pentatonic shapes and runs but I need something to build on that. My chords really aren't that good since I dont know the names of the notes on the neck. I bought a DVD about arpeggios and inversions and, you guessed it, bombed on that too.

Anyone know which direction I should take my guitar playing to shape up and be able to write songs for real? I'm not looking for pity here... just the facts about what's next up for me and my guitar.
I'd say you probably want to start by learning a little theory. My world is constantly getting brighter due to new revelations in the way music actually works. It continues to make the harder stuff make more sense. I would encourage you to start out with the basics and then maybe get into nashville number system. Hope this helps bro.
Gaah pentatonic. I improvised only with pentatonics very little before moving on to diatonic scales. Seriously, you will have much more expressive freedom if you solo with the minor/major scale. I won't include modes, because they are another 10 steps after one learns the major and minor. Just try... learning those two scales if you haven't yet.

When you solo, don't ram it in with pentatonic. I don't say the pentatonic scale doesn't have a place in what we do, but it simply sounds different. We guitarists learn it fast 'cause it's simple, sounds groovy, and has few notes, but its unique sound loses itself if you use only that. Add some variety, from what you wrote that seems to be a big problem.

EDIT: Definitely learn music theory. At least the basics. Then you will also start learning the notes, chord theory... and so on. Just take it easy, it's a lot of info so don't try to take more than you can at once. There is a very good site on basic music theory that also teaches you to read sheet music, not necessary but might be useful:

There is an article on some more complex theory once you move on here:http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/learning_music_theory_the_beginning.html

Tell your drummer you might need some time, and dedicate yourself. When you start learning the theoretical principles, try going through them in practice. And first: learn the notes on the guitar. If you don't know that, but want to know what you're doing, you'll be pretty much screwed.
Last edited by Navi_96 at Dec 6, 2013,
I think what you are discovering, is that while you can functionally play, and get lucky, you haven't a clue about what you're doing. It can fool hacks...but a real musician will sus you out. They put in the work on their end, and they are going to seek out others who have done the same.

Usually such musicians would have already moved on without you. You can't fake enough knowledge to match the amount of time that drummer has put in, so you are left with a choice...

do you want be a knowledgable musician, or a widdling hack?

If you want to be a musician, it's time to put the work in. Theory opens doors and explains things and gives you options, and you'll know why it works.

Good luck. This could be a catalyst for maturity and growth, or it could be the light that exposed you, and sent you back into mediocrity.


Honestly, if its the dummer that is getting annoyed with the guitarist, he is too good for you.

That's from experience. Decent drummers are hard to come by and if he's losing his cool with you then you aren't up to scratch, sorry.

Stop learning pentatonics would be the obvious choice, you're being too rigid and looking at a book is going to help shit. In a jam you have to FEEL IT, especially with a good drummer, I would suggest going out of your comfort zone and learning things that are nothing like what you usually play. This is honestly the best way to overcome stagnant periods of writers block, skill level and music taste, branch out and DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Try a new instrument, there's a lot you can do with a percussionist and whacking out some melodies on another instrument will not only be fun but also get you out of your bad habits.

If you want to play the same riffs in the same scale all the time then the problem lies with you, not the skill level or jam arrangement.
Is it just you & a drummer or are there other musicians too? Because I can speak from experience that drummers can't stand backing up a lead guitar player, especially if he's inexperienced. It's not that it's anyone's fault per se, but when you're busting out a solo if there's no definitive rythym to your playing then there's nothing for him to use to keep up with. If that's the case then I would suggest learning more riffs & full songs to jam to, that way the drummer has something to latch on to.

If you have other band members then like everyone else has said you should step up & start learning at least some chords and basic theory.

Like people have said you can start learning your diatonic scales (they only include 2 more notes than the pentatonic you already know). & it's not a big step up to start including the extra options in your playing. I like to use the pentatonic notes as kind of a skeleton to work around & you can throw the other notes in here & there where they'll fit.

The main thing is to start experimenting with new things instead of staying in your comfort zone all the time.
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Last edited by J-Dawg158 at Dec 7, 2013,