#1
I've been studying jazz guitar for 1 year and a half now, and I've improved a lot, I know a lot more about theory and what notes to play and all, and I love to learn trumpet and sax licks I hear in recordings, it's really a challenge but I learn a lot more everyday.

However, my true music love is classic hard rock, like Led Zep, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Van Halen, etc. That kind of stuff, and that's the type of music (not necessarily covers, mainly similar style) I want to make a living of, and we all know that, not at all times, but a big deal of this solos are simply pentatonic minor, ionian and dorian modes and blues scale, to say the least, and that's about it. But, sadly, I think that my solos all sound a bit alike.

It's hard to explain, but I don't wanna sound too much like a beginner player that only plays the pentatonic and nothing more. I've been playing for around 4, maybe 5 years, and when I improvise, chances are I'm gonna start to dump all my pent. minor lick library, and, although it doesn't sound bad, it sounds a redundant after a while. I want it to sound more melodic and not so obvious, and I want to make it on the spot, not making a written solo (I do have written solos, but that's different), since I like to improvise stuff.

I've tried different things, like, when practicing, singing the notes while I'm playing them, since the sound that interval will produce becomes slowly attached to my fingers and my brain will recognize them, and there are already some thing that I know what they'll sound like, since I've played them so much. Others, not sou much, and there, unfortunately, I go with more faith and luck than about what I know I'm doing; sometimes it sounds good, others not so much. Also, one thing: sometimes my rhythm is a bit lousy and sloppy, because when I improvise (it's a bit hard to explain, hope you get it), there are times when I'm just shredding, and the target note I wanna land on is already too "close" in a "quantity of notes" term, of a still few notes away, and when I try to make it up and play some more or less notes, I mess up the rhythm or I play it safe and stop the last streak of notes to pretend I'm preparing a bend or something. See where I'm getting at? Can you give some more tips and exercises to combat these three things?: getting out of the "obvious box" and become more melodic, knowing where the notes I want are, and sloppy and "faked" rhythm.
Thank you!
#2
My background is similar. I studied jazz guitar but my soul is grounded in the blues.

Study Robben Ford. He has a huge vocabulary to pull from and while quite capable of shredding, he chooses to have a musical conversation with his audience instead. His secret sauce is the diminished scale and he uses it to create tension or attract your attention and then resolves it with familiar minor pentatonic riffs. A very effective technique that opens a lot of doors and crosses a lot of boundaries.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#3
Quote by Cajundaddy
His secret sauce is the diminished scale and he uses it to create tension or attract your attention and then resolves it with familiar minor pentatonic riffs. A very effective technique that opens a lot of doors and crosses a lot of boundaries.


Like if I'm in a jam in A, like a blues or a riff based thing, or monotonic, if I'm playing my thing with pentatonic stuff and a mode or other, he plays the diminished scale at some point to make it more "saucy"? Hmmm... which one, by the way? Half-whole or whole-half?
#4
Half-whole. Try it over a jam track when leading to the 4 chord.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Dec 17, 2014,
#5
If you have a "lick library" that's part of your problem right there. Improvisation, sounds most original when it is creative fresh new libraries of licks on impulse.

Practice with fewer notes. Make 2 or 3 notes sound interesting. Rhythm goes a long way. If you have a scale in mind, and always use the same rhythm but just exchange scale notes, it will sound real old real fast also.
#6
Quote by fingrpikingood
Practice with fewer notes. Make 2 or 3 notes sound interesting. Rhythm goes a long way. If you have a scale in mind, and always use the same rhythm but just exchange scale notes, it will sound real old real fast also.


This is really good advice.

Also, I've been pleased with my results of skipping at least one string every time I move to a new string, especially with pentatonic stuff. Just hitting less common and wider intervals makes it sound less generic.
#7
Hmmm, ok, I'll try all that, thanks guys!
I don't know, maybe I'm having a "off" phase, but I just feel sh*ttier from day to day when I see other guys at my music college play, and I speak to them about the issue, and one of them plays for 10 years already, and he says "dude, you have a lot learn yet, don't rush stuff, concentrar on what you do best and gradually fix the things that are not so good". The other play for around the same time as me, but his technique is incredible, it's jaw-dropping, but he says "that's what I've always wanted to play and that's what I practiced everyday, if your technique is different than mine, that's because you concentrated on something different, but that doesn't mean your bad".

The main issue here is that it seems that I can't come up with something that will sound good in my head on the spot and then transfer it right over to the guitar. For example: here's a song in portuguese (hi from Portugal, btw ), Sangue Oculto, by GNR (not Guns n' Roses, totally different portuguese band). It's on youtube, you can go check it out. I play this thing with my band, and it's really fun, but I don't do the solo as it is, I always improvise, and the harmony during the solo is F G Am D. I know that I can use A pentatonic all through out this, and occasionally I stuff A eolian and A dorian in there. It sounds simple, but I don't know, every time I play it I just feel like not knowing what to do: what note to start with, what scale to play over that chord, what to do now, what to do next... and this is killing me. :\
#8
The one huge difference you can make is practising phrasing, and to a lesser extent, note choice. There is way more originality available through phrasing, than note choice ... AND ... it's what makes really great solos (or vocal lines), stick in the listener's head.

For example, record yourself, if possible, and notice where you start and stop a lick against the beat and bar. If you always start on beat 1, then you've just learned something.

A great source of ideas for phrasing, is listening to sax players, and vocalists. Very few start on beat 1. Many phrases cross the bar line, and repeat (for memorability), maybe with same rhythm, but different note choice.

Silence is a hugely important tool here. Virtuoso technique is wonderful, but after awhile, it gets tedious to listen to, without the slower, more melodic, playing. If you can do virtuoso for surprise, but not all the time, and do the slower, well phrased, melodic stuff, with liberal use of silence, you're already starting to be different!!

As for scales, and note choice ... it;s a good idea to learn how to bring out the tonality ... e.g in an A m progression, improvising around the Am triad as the important notes ... but also realise, you can use ANY note, so long as you learn how to de-emphasise the clashier ones. Again, here, you;re back to awareness of rhythm, and especially the on- and off-beat. The off-beat allows blue murder to be commited. Try it! To give you a few ideas here, you may find this link useful (I did a soundcloud track to help a mate of mine, on chromaticism used with pentatonic ... it rapidly sounds like it isn't pentatonic anymore,but I'm using some really simple tricks to achieve this) ... https://soundcloud.com/jerry-kramskoy-1/tips-for-using-chromaticism

(I play jazz, metal, blues ...)

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Dec 18, 2014,
#9
Well, thanks a lot! I'll definitely try to take some ideas from sax and vocalists, then I'll try to implement them while playing.
As for the note choice, thanks a lot for the sound clip, really useful!
#10
I think what the problem is, at the heart of it, and what all these solutions are driving at is this:

You're not thinking about what you're doing enough. You're running through licks and patterns you know without really thinking about what these notes and rhythms might mean in the scheme of things.

Not that any of the advice above is bad, but really I think trying to solve the problem without really knowing what it is to begin with isn't going to be entirely successful. You'll end up with the same problem down the line but with more things that you play over and over again.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”


Album.
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#11
Quote by Nytrogod
Well, thanks a lot! I'll definitely try to take some ideas from sax and vocalists, then I'll try to implement them while playing.
As for the note choice, thanks a lot for the sound clip, really useful!


Often creativity can't be turned on and off like a tap, sadly. Knowledge improves the chances, for sure, as it can lead more quickly to new avenues to explore.

BUT ... it IS possible to start squeezing out a few drops, which can develop quickly into a flow, by a structured approach to writing ... and that approach can help soloing. This is a big topic, and I am just starting a new series of lessons for UG. First one is waiting review, and hopefully will get published shortly.

Zaphod also makes a very valid point. Introspection really helps at times ... especially when you then recognise the problem, and go "ok, now let's work on fixing it, and set goals to achieve that".

cheers, Jerry
#12
Play a short phrase. Stop. Where does the music want to go? Where do you want to take it? Play another short phrase. Stop. Now where does it want to go?
#13
Well, I guess you're all right. Thanks a lot, guys, I didn't expect to get all this help, it has been really useful!

Other thing that bogs me is that most of these guys I know where all into the shred thing and virtuoso stuff, like Satriani, Vai and Petrucci, and although I obviously respect all their tastes, it has really not been my thing since ever, I never was interested in performing ultra-fast sweeping and legatos, but I feel like (they probably don't) they think I'm a worse player than them, not just technically, but overall, but I don't want to learn something that I do not want just to feel superior. Has anyone ever felt like this?
#14
Quote by Nytrogod
Well, I guess you're all right. Thanks a lot, guys, I didn't expect to get all this help, it has been really useful!

Other thing that bogs me is that most of these guys I know where all into the shred thing and virtuoso stuff, like Satriani, Vai and Petrucci, and although I obviously respect all their tastes, it has really not been my thing since ever, I never was interested in performing ultra-fast sweeping and legatos, but I feel like (they probably don't) they think I'm a worse player than them, not just technically, but overall, but I don't want to learn something that I do not want just to feel superior. Has anyone ever felt like this?


Sure. I only ever learn techniques that I can be free with. It doesn't matter to me what people think technically about my playing. I just want to play what I want to play, and create what I feel when I feel it. The more tools I can get that let me do that the better.

I don't really compare myself to other guitarists so much, except for studying them, seeing what techniques they use so I can learn from them if it fits with my philosophy.

But for me, playing is fast is one of those things. Not because I want to show off, or be "better" than the next guy, and not to sit there spewing out ultra fast stuff for 20 minutes. But because sometimes what I do feel like doing, is playing a fast part.

There are a lot of techniques on guitar. A lot of philosophies, and a lot of styles. Nobody can learn all of them. I think it's important to find what's pertinent to you, and focus on that.

I think it's also a good idea to look at other techniques, as just other techniques, the techniques themselves, not how others are using it. Then see if that can be used or maybe modified to work for you, and what you want to do.
#15
Quote by Nytrogod
Well, I guess you're all right. Thanks a lot, guys, I didn't expect to get all this help, it has been really useful!

Other thing that bogs me is that most of these guys I know where all into the shred thing and virtuoso stuff, like Satriani, Vai and Petrucci, and although I obviously respect all their tastes, it has really not been my thing since ever, I never was interested in performing ultra-fast sweeping and legatos, but I feel like (they probably don't) they think I'm a worse player than them, not just technically, but overall, but I don't want to learn something that I do not want just to feel superior. Has anyone ever felt like this?



Reading from your posts it seems like you have a comparison problem. You seem to be comparing your playing level to your friends playing level. I'm 100% sure that your friends don't really give a crap about your playing level. As they're focusing on bettering yourself. Get over this problem that you have with comparing yourself with others. It could be your down fall. No ones better just different it's just stupid to compare musicians. Everyone has their own different style of playing.
#16
Excellent advice above.And don't forget,You don't have to stay in those minor pent boxes.If you want to be more melodic,Play with the (chord)changes.Think about which chord you are playing over and think about all the different option you have.Use the chord tones to create melody and then when you do revert to your usual stuff it won't be old or over used,Use it sparingly in between more melodic lines.Good advice above about chromaticism too.
Last edited by EyeballPaul at Dec 19, 2014,
#17
Guys, I wanna thank all of you, really, you've been great and really nice and helpful, I owe you one really big one. It really brought up my mood and made me realize that I need to concentrate on what I do best.
Last night, I had a gig, and I think it was the first one in some 5 or 6 concerts in which I didn't feel like total crap, I was having a ball, and I realized this is want I to do: music, not being better that others, just play and having fun. I used all of the advice, like studying some guitarists' phrasing, chromaticism, singing notes while playing them, and etc. It really made feel like in control of what I'm doing, and by the end of the night, I was happy. Thanks, again.
#19
I feel like everybody is giving you a theory perspective sooo I will give you like a less theory kind of perspective. I have been kind of new to guitar but not new to music. I have a background in singing in a choir and I have been playing guitar and trying to make my own melodies.

I kind of do what that one guy said above about playing a small phrase and then hearing where it goes next.

I think just being able to do that is quite a gift. Because it is your unique musical voice. I use it when I make melodies for singing. I like really choosing my own notes, its quite exciting to discover your own musical voice. Dont try to copy so much from others and play what you feel. I think it is a lot more fun.