I've started working on scales (major and minor pentatonic) and can play the patterns reasonably well (been playing for about a year total). To keep things interesting, I've been playing the melody lines from some of my piano music. I can play the notes just fine. The problem is that they don't sound very "connected". The notes are right, and it's not that I hesitate between them, but it still sounds like someone picking individual notes. How do I get them to become more expressive?
Really hearing the notes in your head as you play them can help. You need to really play confidently and be committed to what you're choosing to play at the moment. Confident mistakes can sound better than awkward right notes. Improvisation is probably the most expressive way to play. Of course vibrato, bends, and legato techniques (as mentioned above) can really help as well. If you play enough, eventually you'll think in melodies and notes and actually hear the notes in your head before you play them. At that point the music just flows out of you, whether it's good or not is subjective, but it is how you truly feel. When learning to do this, many people find it helpful to sing what you're playing as you play it.
Last edited by In-Flight-Radio at Jan 9, 2014,
Quote by supersac
look up legato

hammer ons and pull off and whatnot

Yes the key word is legato here....You can achieve legato(which means notes smoothly connected) sound, not just by hammer ons, pull offs or slides but also using picking.You need the notes to blend with each other and not get cut off(staccato).
Thanks for the replies. I started work on hammer-on / pull-off techniques today. My ring finger isn't too bad, but the pinky is next to useless. I'm guessing that's pretty much the standard starting point and it will get better with practice. To get legato *across strings*, I'm assuming that it's picking technique that needs to be used.
Are you familiar with the concept of phrasing? Try listening to how vocalists and wind players play melodies and try to emulate how they play their notes.
Make sure you practice alternate picking, it will help with the flow and the smoothness. Play them slow and play them fast as you are able. Go on the internet and find some tabs of some classic (but easy to play) riffs, don't worry that you wont find any easy ones, you'll be surprised how many classic riffs are actually really simple easy little patterns. Because you are familiar with what they should sound like you'll grasp when you have the phrasing right, it'll be much easier than you think, there's no magic science behind it all, that's just what some people want you to believe so you think they are a good like guitar genius, come on we've all done it at once or twice. Practice makes perfect.

Also, as you are improving you'll find some days you will really flow and other days you'll just seem stiff and wooden, that happens to us all a bit, that's why you can see your fave band one week and they are smoking hot and then you go and see them the following week and they ain't so good, we all have good days when everything flows and bad days when it don't, it's just a bit more noticeable to you when you are a beginner.