Hi UG,

I've been wanting to improve my fretboard dexterity/knowledge aspect when improvising by practicing scales and arpeggios, but I don't exactly know how to practice these things and start implementing them into my playing when soloing.

I've been watching lots of virtuoso rock/fusion players improvising and they seemingly come up with mind-bogglingly complex scalar/arpeggio lines (some combining both in multiple positions and using multiple techniques). Are many of these just licks learnt by rote or are they so comfortable with fretboard knowledge/technique such that they can just make up these licks on the spot?

All that I've really seen/read about practicing scales and arpeggios just mostly talk about practicing the shapes in different positions and keys but I don't really see the bigger picture, so I wonder if what I mentioned above is this eventual "bigger picture"?
I can say this, a good study of arpeggios is great. Knowing scales is also great, but most of these players do these complex lines from having a great ear. They have learned from other players lines and they know over which chords they can use which sound.

If you want to improve at improvisation most of it is an ear thing. You have to hear the line and changes in your head and adjust accordingly. Look at jazz guitarist George Benson as an example, he play and sing lines at the same time. Is he playing what he is singing or singing what he's playing? There is no correct answer. He got a good ear and the lines start in his mind and then he can use both his voice and instrument to get them out.

What i would recommend is practicing scales, arpeggios but most importantly MUSIC. Take from the greats and learn it by ear! sing the scales/arpeggios/lines, play the scales/arpeggios/lines in your head, play the chords and sing scales/arpeggios/lines over them. To get good at improvisation you have to try not to think of the instrument, the instrument should just be the way you get the sounds out, the sounds should start in your head and from there you can sing them or play them or whatever.

Hope that was useful to you.
Best Regards
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

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The absolute first step you need to take (not regarding technique) is to learn to visualize the scale degrees of the key you're playing. You can later on form passages and solos a lot easier(as you don't have to struggle to find where the appropriate tones are and simply focus on the sound they portray instead).

Here is a great start I guess: http://www.amazon.com/Guitar-Fretboard-Workbook-Barrett-Tagliarino/dp/0634049011/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387127688&sr=8-1&keywords=fretboard

You should also grasp at least basic music theory. You could consider the book " scales intervals keys and triads" by John Clough.

1. Get Anki, a free flashcard program.

2. Put all the arpeggio forms for the various three and four note arpeggios into a flash card deck.

3. Every day, dedicate 10-15 minutes to taking an arpeggio shape at random from the deck and using that shape to improvise over a droning bass line or, even better, an actual chord progression. You can use the shape to play the arpeggio contained within the chords or use chord substitution to come up with some extended harmonies. The best part is you are practicing them in a musical context so you will be able to use them to make music vs. just banging out the notes of the arpeggio.

You can substitute scale forms for arpeggio forms.
Something that doesn't get stressed enough when it comes to improv is phrasing. Notes themselves don't really matter that much. You could play any note as long as you know when and how to play them. Starting listening to solos you like, and understand the spacing between notes that give the melody the strength and suspense that make it what it is.
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