#1
I've been playing guitar for ten years and it feels like I've gotten nowhere. The most frustrating thing is my improvisation sounds like crap, and I can't solo at all. I've practiced some basic scales before, but I got bored and just ended up playing covers all the time. I want to be able to play what I want - if I'm in a certain mood I want to pick up the guitar and know how to express that mood.

To sum it up in a few words, when I play I feel like I'm hoping for a good accident.

I don't know where to start. I want to know what the next step for me is and what I should work towards.

I play lots of rock. Not a metal person or a shredder.

If anybody can offer any advice or point me in the right direction, it would mean so much to me. I just don't want to feel like I'm wasting my time anymore. I pick up the guitar almost every day, but I feel like I haven't gotten better in years.
#2
For soloing and improvisation I could give you advices which helped me personally.

I don't know lots about theory and I don't want to. I think you can reach lots of things, even without knowing the theory.
I started improvising lately and find myself getting better and better at it, without actually knowing what I do theory-wise.
It started with coming up with some chords (which I know from other songs, just the handings, not the progressions) and loop them over. What sounds good to my ears, will be the grounding.

Then I just go to a good solo sound and start doing what comes to my mind. I just fiddle around lots and lots. Same chord progression plays in the background as I hit notes on the fretboard, of which I varely know how they sound. I don't overthink while I play. Either it sounds good or a note just doesn't fit, I don't care. I just keep going and don't question myself and my playing.
On best occasions I come up with a charming melody, which finds the place of a filler within the impro. When I need to slack it off and see that nothing really unique comes out, I'll throw in this melody and start a new build-up from there.
It can be frustrating, I know. My first 5-6 impros sounded like shit, but theres way to go. You'll notice progression and your own style if you hang on to the trying.

And always: Record yourself! Improvise for like 10 Minutes and afterwards listen to it. Let it stay for like 1-2 days, then listen again. This helped me alot.

I hope I could help you, don't let your head sink, there's always a way to progress, you CAN'T fail at playing guitar.
#3
Quote by MestFan99


To sum it up in a few words, when I play I feel like I'm hoping for a good accident.


That can be a sort of good or bad thing. It is a sort of good thing when you are comfortable in your abilities to express yourself and just play...hoping for something to come out from an improvisational standpoint, I am sure others may disagree but its nothing to be too ashamed of provided you are at least putting some minor effort into where to direct a melody.

It is a bad thing when you are hoping too much, and too unaware of where to direct a melody.

I would bet that your skills are lacking due to an inexperienced ear. In a slow and simple chord progression, are you at least able to hear the root note of the chord and how your melodies are forming intervals against the bass note?

Also, a solid and in depth understanding of rhythm durations (16th notes, triplets etc.) will open up an enormous amount of doors for ideas.

What really separates the men from the boys, is knowing how to handle a melody.

Your problem is totally fixable, especially if it is just rock music you are into. You most likely are not hearing the connection between your melodies and the underlying chords.

Believe it or not, music does have a lot of structure to it. So much structure that it can solve all your problems thanks to past people who have spent time trying to make sense of it all.
Last edited by Unreal T at Aug 17, 2014,
#4
There's no magic trick. Covers will only get you so far, so if you want to be able to improvise according to your mood, you need to know your way around the fretboard, which means sitting and practicing modes, chords and scales, as well as ear training. Ultimately there's no getting around some amount of tedium, but the long term reward is huge and you'll thank yourself for it.
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#5
Quote by MestFan99
I've been playing guitar for ten years and it feels like I've gotten nowhere. The most frustrating thing is my improvisation sounds like crap, and I can't solo at all. I've practiced some basic scales before, but I got bored and just ended up playing covers all the time. I want to be able to play what I want - if I'm in a certain mood I want to pick up the guitar and know how to express that mood.

To sum it up in a few words, when I play I feel like I'm hoping for a good accident.

I don't know where to start. I want to know what the next step for me is and what I should work towards.


Start by thinking more about what you're doing. I'm willing to bet that part of the problem is that you end up playing the things you do know over and over again at the minute and don't seem to be able to break out of a rut. Which you can't do by playing; if you've practised a lot you can't play yourself in to playing something new. You need to step back and think a lot more about what you're playing, come up with sounds and melodies in your head first and translate those to the guitar rather than simply playing and hoping something new will happen.

It will seriously help you to do this if you learn a decent amount of theory: chord construction, scales, rhythms, and so on. The key, however, is that all these things need to be related to sounds in your mind. If you hear a sound you need to be able to know it relates to theory. The best way of doing this, in my opinion at least, is to learn a bunch of things by ear, and relate that to the theory you're learning if you can. That way you'll be training your ear in to getting sounds and be able to put a name to things so that when you get a sound in your head you'll be able to identify it and transfer it to the guitar with much greater ease.
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#6
try putting on a backing tracks that are just a vamp. a groove in a certain key. then play anything all over your fretboard without concern of scales and stuff. try to flow rhythmically along with the beat. It's a great way to free yourself and just play freestyle as a way to develop more control
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#7
Quote by Unreal T

Believe it or not, music does have a lot of structure to it. So much structure that it can solve all your problems thanks to past people who have spent time trying to make sense of it all.


This is the Holy Grail right here. I played rock & metal for 30 yrs before taking my first lesson, & wish I'd started learning theory years ago. You don't need to go crazy learning every sophisticated mode or scale by any means. I started taking lessons for blues guitar, & it totally opened my eyes! I learned what major & minor scales & chords are, & how they're constructed. Knowing what key you're in, you can simply locate the 3rd, 5th, or 7th of that chord & it'll almost ALWAYS sound good landing on those notes. That's a good start. Now, aside from when I play old Van Halen covers, I improvise every single solo I do. I go to open blues jams, & I never know what I'm going to play until I do it. I could never do that if I didn't have a little bit of theory. I scoffed at needing to learn theory for years, but I'm SOOOO glad I learned some, because it would've taken 10 times longer to get where I am without it. It's the difference between driving with a map or blindly just driving in the dark hoping you don't hit a tree
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