#1
I am getting frustrated. I have made great improvements in many elements of my playing so far. I definitely have gotten a lot better a solos. However I still notice that I get caught in the trap of running through my scales in a really boring fashion sometimes. I learn songs by david gilmour and he finds such interesting combinations to make out of the simple minor pentatonic. Obviously i am no david gilmour but what are some ways that I can start using the pentatonic in a more interesting way rather than going through the same progression up the scale that I always find myself in?
#3
I had exactly the same problem like you (as you can see, I was largely influenced by Buckethead) - except I didn't want to admit my shredding was boring so you have an advantage over me - a realisation that plain shredding isn't interesting.

The development came naturally to me after some time; I can still shred pretty fast, I just don't do it anymore. It's like I got fed up with it. Also, playing in this band with people that just can't stand shredding is what helped me as well. Try to find people that despise speed for the sake of it and play with them - they'll "force" you to create melodies instead of solo
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Aw yeah.
#4
Watching Guthrie Govan lessons helps a lot to break out of boring solos, learning something about Jazz harmonies too helps (listening to Wes Montgomery for example). Also what the two others already said.
#5
Use your ears. Try to hear sounds before playing them.

For example sometimes when Jimi Hendrix soloed, he sang what he played. Or actually he played what he sang. He knew the sound before playing it.

To be able to do this, just learn a lot of songs by ear.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#6
Firstly, why do so many people base their solos off of the minor pentatonic scale? It's the most cookie-cutter scale shape for guitarists, and it leaves out so many notes that can make potential interesting lines. Do we say "minor pentatonic" when we really just mean minor tonality? Do we actually extend the scale, but we don't say so? If not, your solos are going to sound like garbage. You only have 5 notes to choose from.

If you're playing over an E minor chord/chord progression, the pentatonic shape would confine you to E, G, A, B, and D. But you just skipped over 2 notes that you could play that fit in a E minor shape! E, F#, G, A, B, C, D. That is extended to 4 extra notes if you had the blues scale and the harmonic minor to it: E, F#, G, A, A#, B, C, D, D#. And if you add chromatic runs, you're at all 12 modern tones.

Adjust your note choice according to the chord progression behind you. Make the notes you are playing sing with harmony, milking the purity of the chord; or make them clash with dissonance, only to release that dissonance upon the next chord change.

Make it vocal by being able to sing what you're playing. Make it simple, so that laymen are able to follow (utilizing the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd positions of a scale mostly). Utilize bends so that it sounds like your guitar is screaming. Use slides, for angelic and tech-y leads, that bewilders the listener. And add repetition, as if you are stuttering and you just can't seem to get your point across.
Last edited by Will Lane at Jan 9, 2015,
#7
Quote by Will Lane
Firstly, why do so many people base their solos off of the minor pentatonic scale? It's the most cookie-cutter scale shape for guitarists, and it leaves out so many notes that can make potential interesting lines. Do we say "minor pentatonic" when we really just mean minor tonality? Do we actually extend the scale, but we don't say so? If not, your solos are going to sound like garbage. You only have 5 notes to choose from.
And yet those five notes can yield endless possibilities.

There is nothing wrong with a pentatonic scale.

Creating interesting lines has more to do with rhythmic and melodic phrasing than it does adding more notes. If you can't make interesting lines with the pentatonic scale adding more notes is not the answer.
Si
#8
Quote by Will Lane
Do we actually extend the scale, but we don't say so? If not, your solos are going to sound like garbage. You only have 5 notes to choose from.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyS4sCg1BnA
Please, listen to the part from 4:00 to 5:00. It's written completely inside the pentatonic scale. Does it really have to sound like garbage?
Quote by ChemicalFire
You get my first ever lolstack






The image in my head is just too funny for words at this point


Aw yeah.
Last edited by TheNameOfNoone at Jan 9, 2015,
#9
Quote by 20Tigers
Creating interesting lines has more to do with rhythmic and melodic phrasing than it does adding more notes. If you can't make interesting lines with the pentatonic scale adding more notes is not the answer.
It may not be the answer, but it could surely help. Those in-between notes are natural (see below), and leaving them out can benefit the expressive quality of the music, but it could also hurt it.

Quote by TheNameOfNoone
Please, listen to the part from 4:00 to 5:00. It's written completely inside the pentatonic scale. Does it really have to sound like garbage?


The rest of that Buckethead solo goes into blues and natural minor shapes, and even delves into chromaticism. If BH stayed on the minor pentatonic the whole song, it would start to sound monotonous quick. It's also based upon a 1st-7th progression in minor mostly (tonic chord, a step below, tonic chord, a step below, etc), so there isn't much chordal change to play around in aside from the chromatic chorus-like section, which BH just plays a motif to. For what it's worth, I've never liked BH's work that much. I respect him, but I've never heard anything that really hit me from him.

If those 5 notes fit perfectly and you don't need any extra, then sure. Make music that way, whatever is expressive for you. But don't limit your scale if you don't need to.

For instance, if OP was playing a progression like this: E minor, G major, C major, B major, why shouldn't he be able to add the harmonic minor's sharped 7th to his E minor pentatonic scale during the B major chord change?

Adding in those extra notes can make the solo more melodic, singable, vocal, and memorable. You don't have to add them in, but you also don't have to play the minor pentatonic solely.
Last edited by Will Lane at Jan 9, 2015,
#10
Possibly the best thing you can do is simply put the guitar down, then there's absolutely no chance of the autopilot kicking in when you're trying to come up with something new.
Actually called Mark!

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#11
Quote by steven seagull
Possibly the best thing you can do is simply put the guitar down, then there's absolutely no chance of the autopilot kicking in when you're trying to come up with something new.

If you meant what I think you meant, +1. Some of my best musical ideas come to me when I don't have an instrument on hand. And minimizing your playing (but not your practicing) can help you come up with fresh licks every time you pick your guitar up.
#13
Yeah, this is all about developing your ear.

Can you hear a melody line and quickly play it? If not, then your ears are holding you back in your solos.
#14
Yup exactly, you don't need an instrument to create music, only to realise it in the form you intended.

If you know the guitar inside out or how to make it do whatever you want then there's no disconnect, you can do whatever you imagine instantaneously. If you're not that level, and in reality few of us are, then tbetween your brain and the guitar your ideas can lose their way and become muddled. Figuring out stuff in your head and singing or humming it is much more immediate, you've pretty much mastered controlling the sounds you make with your mouth by now!

Taking the guitar out of the equation gives you the time to figure out exactly what it is you want to say, and you're also under no pressure when it comes to figuring out how to do it on the guitar.
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

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i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


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#15
@Will Lane

Read my signature.

The natural minor scale is only two notes more. The pentatonic scale is really flexible. It works over almost anything. Those two notes that you add to it don't sound that good over everything. It's not that much about how many different notes you use. It's about how you use them. You can do some great stuff with pentatonic scale. Of course the way beginners play the scale sounds really unoriginal. When you play music, it shouldn't sound like a scale. Sometimes scale runs are cool but if your whole solo sounds like a scale, it's not good.

I think it's good to learn to use less notes and make more music with it. It's kind of a cliche thing to say (and I don't necessarily agree with it) but what shredders like Yngvie Malmsteen can do with 100 notes, a blues guitarist like BB King can do with 3 notes.

Many beginners don't understand this and they keep asking questions like "what scale should I learn to sound like [insert a guitarist]?" You don't need more notes, you need to learn to use the notes.

Pentatonic scale is kind of the "natural scale". It feels natural. It is used in folk music a lot. There's something to it that just makes it feel natural.

I'm not saying learning to use all 12 notes is pointless. But the thing is, maybe people should first learn to use 5 notes. Yes, it kind of limits you but sometimes limitations make you create something new. Because you kind of need to be more creative to sound good if you have less notes to use. If you can make good sounding music with 5 notes, you can definitely make good sounding music with 12 notes.

It is also a lot easier to first get acquainted with the sound of the 5 notes and then start adding more notes. If you start with 12 notes, it's a lot of work to remember how every note sounds like. But something like pentatonic scale is pretty easy to remember.

@TS

As people have said, if you have the guitar in your hands when you write stuff, it is really easy to just put the autopilot mode on. Sometimes it's good to just listen to the sounds in your head before playing anything (though I also think sometimes playing sounds can inspire you to hear more sounds in your head. I wrote a whole song after playing a D5 chord. It just sounded right and inspired me to first write a riff which turned to a whole song pretty fast. I don't know what it was in that chord that inspired me. It just did. But without playing it, I wouldn't have written the song).
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#17
Quote by MaggaraMarine
@Will Lane

Read my signature.

The natural minor scale is only two notes more. The pentatonic scale is really flexible. It works over almost anything. Those two notes that you add to it don't sound that good over everything. It's not that much about how many different notes you use. It's about how you use them. You can do some great stuff with pentatonic scale. Of course the way beginners play the scale sounds really unoriginal. When you play music, it shouldn't sound like a scale. Sometimes scale runs are cool but if your whole solo sounds like a scale, it's not good.

I think it's good to learn to use less notes and make more music with it. It's kind of a cliche thing to say (and I don't necessarily agree with it) but what shredders like Yngvie Malmsteen can do with 100 notes, a blues guitarist like BB King can do with 3 notes.

Many beginners don't understand this and they keep asking questions like "what scale should I learn to sound like [insert a guitarist]?" You don't need more notes, you need to learn to use the notes.

Pentatonic scale is kind of the "natural scale". It feels natural. It is used in folk music a lot. There's something to it that just makes it feel natural.

I'm not saying learning to use all 12 notes is pointless. But the thing is, maybe people should first learn to use 5 notes. Yes, it kind of limits you but sometimes limitations make you create something new. Because you kind of need to be more creative to sound good if you have less notes to use. If you can make good sounding music with 5 notes, you can definitely make good sounding music with 12 notes.

It is also a lot easier to first get acquainted with the sound of the 5 notes and then start adding more notes. If you start with 12 notes, it's a lot of work to remember how every note sounds like. But something like pentatonic scale is pretty easy to remember.

@TS

As people have said, if you have the guitar in your hands when you write stuff, it is really easy to just put the autopilot mode on. Sometimes it's good to just listen to the sounds in your head before playing anything (though I also think sometimes playing sounds can inspire you to hear more sounds in your head. I wrote a whole song after playing a D5 chord. It just sounded right and inspired me to first write a riff which turned to a whole song pretty fast. I don't know what it was in that chord that inspired me. It just did. But without playing it, I wouldn't have written the song).



+1 I know a lot of people that know how to play 100's of scales, but can't come up with a simple sounding improvised solo. Knowing all the scales in the world won't make you a better guitarist only your ears will..
#18
Quote by steven seagull
Possibly the best thing you can do is simply put the guitar down, then there's absolutely no chance of the autopilot kicking in when you're trying to come up with something new.


So much this. When I want to come up with an original melody for a solo, without the autopilot taking over, I compose the melody in Fruity Loops (FL Studio), using the piano key layout with some generic lead synth sound. That way, I can manipulate the notes while listening to it being played back. I don't have to actually play it while writing it, I can just focus on getting the melody in my head to come out, even if that means trial and error, moving a note up half a step at a time until it sounds good (I don't have a great ear. can't tune by ear for shit). Once I've got a melody figured out that way, I pick up the guitar and learn it.
#19
Quote by MaggaraMarine
I wrote a whole song after playing a D5 chord. It just sounded right and inspired me to first write a riff which turned to a whole song pretty fast. I don't know what it was in that chord that inspired me. It just did. But without playing it, I wouldn't have written the song.


Based on how many bands are out there who play in drop D, and write songs that almost exclusively start and/or end on a big D5, I'd say there's quite a few people out there who've had the same experience. Myself included.
#20
practice in your mind, just the sound, without thinking about the fretboard or how to do it on the fretboard. Then, when you get your guitar in your hands, do the same, but sing out the notes, and play the notes you sing.

Guitar is not "how to" sort of thing. It's not learning about patterns, and mechanisms or tricks on how to know what to do.

It is patterns that help you find the sounds you want.

You are not meant to stick to pentatonic, or play pentatonic. You are meant to imagine anything you want, and recognize when what you're imagining is pentatronic, so you can play it, the moment you think it.

You need to develop your ideas, not learn more theory necessarily, if you know what I mean.

Practice with fewer notes as well. Make 2 or 3 notes interesting. A lot of music is rhythm.

But don't "play pentatonic". Play music, and when what you happen to want is pentatonic, then so be it.

You seem to me like are approaching your guitar with a mentality that there are theoretical lessons to follow to tell you how to make music. You learned pentatonic, so you play it in order. Now you want to learn something else. But it doesn't work that way. You need to learn and understand the sound of pentatonic, and all its parts, fully predictably from any degree to any other, so it is easy and natural, like speaking. And then you call on it, when that's what you want. Like speaking again. You learn the words and their definitions very well, on this intuitive immediate level. And you call on the word you want. But nothing exists that can tell you what to say. That's is what the role of the artist is. To create interesting things. Not follow recipes or algorithms.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Jan 10, 2015,
#21
Quote by the_bi99man
Based on how many bands are out there who play in drop D, and write songs that almost exclusively start and/or end on a big D5, I'd say there's quite a few people out there who've had the same experience. Myself included.

Yeah, of course. But I meant something in the way the chord sounded made me hear sounds in my head.

And IIRC, it was actually a C#5 chord but I decided to transpose the riff that I came up with to D. But whatever. My point was, sometimes the sound of your guitar inspires you to write something.

Another example was a couple of days ago when we were writing songs with my friend. He has a Garageband on his computer and there was one sound that was pretty heavily effected. Just hearing that sound inspired me to write a riff.

So while the best way to write melodies is to listen to the sounds in your head, sometimes you get inspired when you first play something. Of course after that you start hearing sounds in your head. I have never written a song by just noodling around on autopilot. That just doesn't work. But sometimes I get inspired by a sound and then start hearing something in my head.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#22
Think of a solo as an extended melody. Work on creating melodies. Then apply those ideas to guitar solos.

If you struggle with creating melodies (which you will, if you've never done it a lot), then start with learning (and playing) simple melodies. I know it seems lame, but learning to play songs like "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" or "Mary Had A Little Lamb" on guitar helps. Then, move on to songs with more complex melodies. Once you have the idea of melodies down, then you can easily compose your own. Once you can compose your own melodies, you can incorporate those ideas into the solos you do.

@Will Lane:
All I will say is, that scales don't matter worth shit. It's how the notes chosen are used. If someone can do amazing things with the pentatonic scale, who are you to whine about it? Now, please stop barking up this terribly wrong tree.
#23
Quote by MaggaraMarine


So while the best way to write melodies is to listen to the sounds in your head, sometimes you get inspired when you first play something. Of course after that you start hearing sounds in your head. I have never written a song by just noodling around on autopilot. That just doesn't work. But sometimes I get inspired by a sound and then start hearing something in my head.


Ya, definitely the timbre of any sound makes a big different to the ideas that go through your mind.

That's what's kind of cool about keys, because you can run them through a computer, and you have such a huge variety of sounds at your disposal.

To me, music, and most things actually, is more reaction than action. The feel of the instrument, and the layout makes a big difference also.

What's cool to me about acoustic, is how it is as real object of some shape, that resonates and creates it's sound from just pieces of string strapped onto a piece of wood, and you make music with that. It's simple, and real sound in the real world if you know what I mean, not something processed and coming out of a speaker. Real pianos also.

But I like the layout and timbre of acoustic. Both are cool though, in different ways.
#24
Try taking some of your favorite vocal lines and turning them into licks(I recommend you avoid Queen for this, try some power metal or 80's pop rock.)
Bruh? Brah? Breh? Bruae? Bruae.
#25
In addition to the above, I have a few tips that may help you. First try learning Indian Raga music (it can change a C Major scale into something magical and I have a thread that I'll update with more tips for this) or Jazz (it'll teach you theory and a lot of it is improvised). A good jazz standard is "Summer Time" (Gershwin) or "Fly Me to the Moon" (a great yet easy song that served as credits music for "Neon Genesis Envangelion"). As for Raga music, it's highly improvised and microtonal. Try microtonal bends, slides to a note and back, and vibratos (slow bluesy ones work really well).

Another thing that helps me is to write electronic music or remix tunes (mostly from video games). I use a mix of FL Studio (for instrumentation and arrangement), Musescore (to write and/or modify the midi files), and Audacity (to put the pieces together and mix them). Choose a song or piece of score that you like and put your own original spin on it (I suggest writing short parts to use). When it sounds good enough, you'll want to transcribe the result and you should get a few parts to use.

Overall trust your ear and listen to what the solo is trying to tell you (just hope it's not cussing you out, LOL). I'm not that great of a guitarist (I've only been playing for little over 4 years) and decided to play bass in my future band. However I hope my tips have helped.
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).
#26
Quote by jameswryantx
Try taking some of your favorite vocal lines and turning them into licks(I recommend you avoid Queen for this, try some power metal or 80's pop rock.)


I love doing this. My favorite is Never Gonna Give You Up. I pile on the distortion and reverb, a little bit of delay, and play the vocal melody like it's a ripping guitar solo. People always hear me play that, and usually can't quite put their finger on why it sounds so familiar. Then, if the chorus doesn't jar their memory, I start singing along in the second verse, and they realize they've been rickrolled.
#27
It helps to study players with more restraint and better phrasing if you want to improve on that aspect of playing . Mark Knopfler is an excellent example of a player with great phrasing and restraint - see Brothers in Arms, Sultans of Swing have great solos. Albert King is another great player when it comes to restraint and great phrasing. The use of space and silence is a very important aspect of this. Miles Davis is a great jazz trumpet example of a master of phrasing and restraint.

I would also recommend learning solos by ear and practicing singing notes you are playing - those are great ways to get out of the pattern rut. Another good tip is to avoid playing all over the fretboard and focus on limiting yourself to very small clusters of notes so that you can really master how intervals sound.

One thing that really helped me tone down mindless shredding was loosing the pick and playing fingerstyle - this naturally limits your ability to just robotically shred as it slows you down and makes you focus more on each note played.
#28
Quote by hanginout
I am getting frustrated. I have made great improvements in many elements of my playing so far. I definitely have gotten a lot better a solos. However I still notice that I get caught in the trap of running through my scales in a really boring fashion sometimes. I learn songs by david gilmour and he finds such interesting combinations to make out of the simple minor pentatonic. Obviously i am no david gilmour but what are some ways that I can start using the pentatonic in a more interesting way rather than going through the same progression up the scale that I always find myself in?


Great question.

Do you know chord tones? You could try isolating chord tones on the change and accenting them.

Do you know about call and response playing? Also known as Question Answer? You could try looking into that.

Finally check into Variations on a Theme.

One more I thought of, learn your scales in contours, or sequences, especially those in 3rd and 4th intervals.

There are so many approaches you can take, but these are good to start with.

Best,

Sean