#1
Hi! When does a guitar player know that the player is ready to jam/improvise over chord progression? When did you feel like that you should start jamming or improvising? I have started to play electric guitar actually from the beginning of this year although I haven't played anything in last 2/3years.

So yap, I'm bad at playing guitar. All I can play is only a couple of simple solos and only one full song (just a beginner's rock song which I recently learned and I'm still not very comfortable playing from beginning to end).

I tried to create a solo with a backing track (it has only a single chord so not chord changes) and ironically my playing sounds like scale and there was nothing musical. The handful number of solos that I learned do have some useful licks but what I've seen from watching others jamming over a progression, I think I need to learn a lot of licks/passages/lead lines to play like them. What can I do under this circumstance?
#2
As soon as possible, regardless of how strong your technique is you are probably going to suck the first many times you jam; so it's best to get started as soon as possible.

Try to think of something that sounds good over the backing track, and then try to transcribe the sound in your head onto the guitar. It will be very hard at first but it gets easier as your brain and muscle memory remember what sound is associated with every note on the fretboard.

Don't rely on playing scales for now, they are very useful to know but you want to learn the sounds of the scale before learning patterns on the fretboard.
#4
@Anon17: Thanks for the suggestion. Is there any particular method/process/approach for beginners to follow while trying to jam or should I just make up sounds in my head and try to play on guitar. I particularly like melodic rock and its smooth and soothing sound. Also the happy sounds from major scale/chord is a particular favorite of mine. But I don't know how to make music with that.

I hear the sounds of my favorite players playing which is at this moment close to impossible for me to play. Even sometimes when I just listen to a backing track this thing happens (e.g. backing tracks in the key of G sometimes reminds me of Slash's playing).
#5
Hi luminance

The way I did it, back when i started, was I learned a position of the pentatonic scale, then limited the notes I could play to 2 or 3 strings, so i could only use for example the 1st and 2nd string of the first position of the minor pentatonic scale. As soon as I felt comfortable with that Id move on to other strings and eventually other positions.

Good luck!
#6
Playing with others is great, at any level. I think I would try learning to play one pentatonic box really well, then shift its position to get different keys and major or minor. I would also be learning a bit of background theory on that at the same time. That way you can do a passable noodles in any key. I noodle around on guitar almost constantly when watching TV, and a lot of it is pentatonic and related scales. IMO, this helps to develop muscle memory and fluidity.
#7
Yes. Don't be like me when I put on a backing track and solo stuff that completely doesn't match. Youtube has a great channel for backing tracks. Try out all different styles in different keys and just make something work. You'll learn.
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#8
never to early to try. just be realistic about the results. the more you try the mre confident you will get. as others have mentioned play with others. if you are a beginner try to find others that are on a similar level to start with. if you can find guys with patience then certainly play with better musicians.

there is no definive point that anyone can tell you. hell i've been playing for over 30 years and still get nervouse if playing with guys i don't know.
#9
Great advice I will follow this,iam doing the A minor pentatonic box,
#10
@Yannick Vez: The weird thing is I find the pentatonic scale easier than the natural scale to make music (I still can’t make it sound as good as an actual solo but at least using pentatonic doesn’t make my improvisation attempts sound like a scale being played).

I’ve gone through some internet resources where it using pentatonic scale was recommended for the beginner improvisers. I guess I need to build some pentatonic chops. Can you recommend any solo/song (preferably rock/but I won’t mind the blues) that has many pentatonic licks/passages/patterns which I can learn to be more comfortable with the pentatonic?

@Tony Done: Shifting the scale in different keys sounds really great, and I think it will help me to quickly identify different key position on the fretboard quickly; I’ll definitely follow this. I’m also learning some theory but I just need to develop confidence to apply them in real situation.
#11
@Xerosnake90: I learned only G major and E minor scale; additionally I recently have learned the E minor pentatonic scale in the first position and with this little knowledge of mine I attempted to come up with something that failed in many level.

@monwobobbo: Unfortunately I haven’t found anyone who are on a same level as me; although I found few who play really good (at least I think so) but their attitude with playing music seemed kind of arrogant so I gave up on them. You’ve said you feel nervous when you play with the people you don’t know; but I feel nervous playing along with a backing track and I don’t know what I’d be doing while playing with others.
#12
Quote by Luminance
@Xerosnake90: I learned only G major and E minor scale; additionally I recently have learned the E minor pentatonic scale in the first position and with this little knowledge of mine I attempted to come up with something that failed in many level.

@monwobobbo: Unfortunately I haven’t found anyone who are on a same level as me; although I found few who play really good (at least I think so) but their attitude with playing music seemed kind of arrogant so I gave up on them. You’ve said you feel nervous when you play with the people you don’t know; but I feel nervous playing along with a backing track and I don’t know what I’d be doing while playing with others.


yeah i hear you. guys that play way better often don't have the patience to play with beginners. just the way it is. keep looking. to some degree there will always be a little self doubt when faced with a new situation. it's normal.

look you just started and can't expect to be good right off the bat. keep at it and eventually you'll hit on something and go "wow that was me?. leads aren't easy so don't get discouraged. remeber to use bends and finger vibrato to spice things up. just try to write simple little songs and don't worry if they are particularily good. they don't have to be just a training exercise. after a while you'll get better at it (some of my stuff is in link in profile)
#13
Playing with people who are better than you is one of the best things you can do.Even playing with people not as advanced as yourself is good,They may know something you don't.Hell i even used to learn things from my bass player.
Last edited by EyeballPaul at Apr 18, 2015,
#14
Hi luminance,

I never learned licks, I'm not a great improviser, but I do ok for my objectives. You said you have trouble because you solo sounds to much like scales. One solution to that is to play scales in 3rd, 4th, 5th etc...
#15
@monwobobbo: You are an amazing player!! Thanks for the vigorous and encouraging words. I'm trying to come up with little and meaningful leads but having really hard time to make them sound decent. I've started to play recently over different style of backing tracks, and I've noticed that regular rock style tracks are difficult for me to keep up but the slow rock/blues one are a bit comfortable for me play over. Is this normal? I'll remember to add more vibrato and bends in my leads from now on.

@EyeballPaul: I know even those who haven't been playing for long can teach me things that I don't know; there can be loads of learning opportunity through jamming with others.

@Yannick Vez: I can't improvise actually but this idea came in my head while I was practicing scales and I thought why don't I use it to make something. That's why I asked the questions about improvising/jamming for beginners.
#16
Quote by Luminance
@monwobobbo: You are an amazing player!! Thanks for the vigorous and encouraging words. I'm trying to come up with little and meaningful leads but having really hard time to make them sound decent. I've started to play recently over different style of backing tracks, and I've noticed that regular rock style tracks are difficult for me to keep up but the slow rock/blues one are a bit comfortable for me play over. Is this normal? I'll remember to add more vibrato and bends in my leads from now on.

@EyeballPaul: I know even those who haven't been playing for long can teach me things that I don't know; there can be loads of learning opportunity through jamming with others.

@Yannick Vez: I can't improvise actually but this idea came in my head while I was practicing scales and I thought why don't I use it to make something. That's why I asked the questions about improvising/jamming for beginners.


thanx i dunno about amazing but ok. don't worry about how good what you're doing is. it's not like your fav guitar player started off with (insert famous solo here) we all start with crap and hope it gets better. yeah start with slow blues as that will yield results faster. you may not be SRV right off teh bat but you can play a lick that sounds kinda like blues at least. a little success will build confidence. don't expect to whip out great solos for a while. i've been playing for over 35 years and no one is mistaking me for steve vai. guitar takes time and soloing definitely takes time and effort before you get any good at it. just keep at it and ask for advice any time.
#18
Concentrate on the rhythm of the song as opposed to playing a bunch of notes that happen to be in the same key. You'll be amazed at the phrases you can produce with just a few notes in the right rhythm.
#19
Yes.
"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. This is my religion." -- Abraham Lincoln
#20
Quote by jlowe22
Concentrate on the rhythm of the song as opposed to playing a bunch of notes that happen to be in the same key. You'll be amazed at the phrases you can produce with just a few notes in the right rhythm.


yeah i do this and follow tha vocal melody of a song as well. getting a lead to flow along with they rhythm really can make a huge difference. flash seems cool but a lead that fits the song is usually better and more memerable
#21
Quote by monwobobbo
yeah i do this and follow tha vocal melody of a song as well. getting a lead to flow along with they rhythm really can make a huge difference. flash seems cool but a lead that fits the song is usually better and more memerable


IMO, a beginner should not even try any flashy wankage until they have a firm understanding of how to wank rhythmically. I've seen too many shredders sound terrible due to their inadequte understanding of rhythm.

Guthrie Govan said it best when he said the wrong notes in proper rhythm sound better than the right notes out of rhythm.
#22
Quote by jlowe22
IMO, a beginner should not even try any flashy wankage until they have a firm understanding of how to wank rhythmically. I've seen too many shredders sound terrible due to their inadequte understanding of rhythm.

Guthrie Govan said it best when he said the wrong notes in proper rhythm sound better than the right notes out of rhythm.


yeah agree but in reality most beginners try for the flashy wankage first. when i first started to play you wee expected to learn rhythm guitar first and then move on to leads latter. these days it seems that many kids start with wankage and can't play rhythm to save their lives. sad as most songs are mainly comprised of rhythm. every one knows the riff for Smoke On The Water or Iron Man but how many average people know the solos (almost none). for the record girls want to hear stuff they know. i remember years ago playing a blazing solo in front of a girl and she barely noticed. played the opening riff to Back In Black and suddenly i'm a rock god
Last edited by monwobobbo at Apr 21, 2015,
#23
Its been my experience girls don't care unless you sing while doing it, and then the clothes fly off.
#24
@monwobobbo, @jlowe22: I was reading through your statements and I'm feeling like a moron who sucks big time at playing tight riffs; I got to get rid of that. However I'm by no means trying to play super flashy passages but rather I'm concentrating on being melodic. That idea of playing vocal melody sounds great, I'll definitely try that.
#25
Quote by Luminance
@monwobobbo, @jlowe22: I was reading through your statements and I'm feeling like a moron who sucks big time at playing tight riffs; I got to get rid of that. However I'm by no means trying to play super flashy passages but rather I'm concentrating on being melodic. That idea of playing vocal melody sounds great, I'll definitely try that.


don't sweat it. look we all sucked at one time and believe me you probably will suck for a while. i know i did. you can't set the bar to high. when i was teaching, an exercise i gave was to pick 4 notes (2 on 1 string 2 on the next string down that were together) now make a solo or riff only using those 4 notes. this really makes you be creative while not killing yourself playing wise. many of the greatest riffs out there are 3 or 4 notes. a pentatonic scale is only 5 notes and yet many of the greatest solos ever have been made with just those 5 notes. don't be so hard on yourself and don't expect to write the next Stairway To Heavon solo your first time out. we're all our own worst critics. the last section of the last solo on my tune Valley Of Gwangi was a totally screw up with a little thing thrown on cuz i just kept playing even though i knew i'd blown the part i had worked out. i stopped at that point and came back to it the next day. when i played the track back somehow it just seemed to fit so i left it even though it was a blown take to begin with.
#26
I'll add my 2 cents here as well. Learn a pentatonic box and just play. There are tons of backing tracks, so pick one in an easy key like A minor and play an A minor pentatonic scale, then pieces of the scale until you find something that sounds good. At first, I played like I had three thumbs, but it got steadily better the more I did it.\ Am I better than when I started? Absolutely! Am I ready to de-throne Buddy Guy? Not on your life. The important thing is that by doing it more and more - and listening more and more - I've developed both my ear and my playing. My improvising still sounds a little too much like scales for my taste, but it's getting better.

I have found one problem, though. I jam with a backing track during my lunch hour. It's incredibly hard to go back to work at 1 p.m. and not just keep playing guitar for the rest of the afternoon. To borrow a phrase from another hobby, jamming with a backing track is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.
#27
Some really smart advice here. many years ago I was blessed to play with a great lead player who blew me away each night with his tasty solos. He could do all the tricks and speed riffing but usually he didn't because it wasn't appropriate for the material we were playing. He had a great sense of what worked best for the feel of the song. My leads at that time on the other hand were just boxed patterns played with no real thought given to the melody of the songs. Just OK technical riffing for 12 bars. Unfortunately I looked at my leads as opportunities to show off and fill a hole rather than add anything musical to the song. Thankfully I got to work with someone who was light years ahead of me and after going out on the road with this guy for 6 months I learned a lot of important musical lessons. One thing he said to me that I always try to remember is make your solo something that adds to the overall melody and feel of the song and you can't go wrong. (As it turns out Les Paul often used a similar phrase.) Learn the basic major, minor and pentatonic scales. You need them. Don't worry about riffs. They will come later.

You can try to amaze people by with your technique but they will probably remember you more if you move them emotionally by the sound and feel of your solo. Amen (and a woman).
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at May 7, 2015,
#28
Like everyone else has said, do it as soon as you can. Even if it's just fumbling over some pentatonic licks over a backing track on YouTube, it's only going to help in the long run. And it's fun!
#29
Quote by Luminance
@Anon17: Thanks for the suggestion. Is there any particular method/process/approach for beginners to follow while trying to jam or should I just make up sounds in my head and try to play on guitar. I particularly like melodic rock and its smooth and soothing sound. Also the happy sounds from major scale/chord is a particular favorite of mine. But I don't know how to make music with that.

I hear the sounds of my favorite players playing which is at this moment close to impossible for me to play. Even sometimes when I just listen to a backing track this thing happens (e.g. backing tracks in the key of G sometimes reminds me of Slash's playing).


There's a few paralllel sides to getting better ...

1/ mechanical technique, which can be achieved to a reasonable level quite quickly (few months with appropriate practise and close concentration to timing).

2/ knowledge of how scales and chords work together. Especially how playing in a given key works, and which scale notes to emphasise. There can be a couple of huge stumbling blocks

a) theory is taken too literally and then the student starts questioning if (s)he is allowed to play a given note in a given context. ANY note is allowed, but some shouldn't be emphasised (primarily a note a semitone above a note in chord of moment)

b) people can get obsessed with trying to exactly follow every chord in a progression to where the melody and creativity can suffer. Sure, it can be done, but a very common approach is to ignore teh progression and solo around the tonic chord tones, without worrying ... there'll be some clashes, but doesn't matter ... that adds interest. So, make sure you know really well the major and minor triads, and in a major key (e.g. A maj) experiment just soloing around the notes in the major tonic triad (i.e. in A maj triad), even if chord progression is A D E D A ... or say Dmaj7 C#m7 Bm7 A ... both of these are in the key of A major, so can use the A maj triad. Think of how to connect between the chord tones of the triad. Think how you could dress up a chord tone (e.g. play neighbour notes).

3/ people don't use their ears enough. Again, really, really worthwhile to practice singing and recognising the root, 3rd and 5th of the tonic triad in various octaves, and listen to how these are utilised as landing notes in vocal melodies and solos.

4/ phrasing is massively important (where you start and stop playing, and how long the various notes get held for). This can be developed from day one. Again, listen where singers and soloists start and end against the bar. This is the main way players can get huge variation. This is also a huge contributing factor to how songs appear memorable (just as much as note choice)

The sooner you can jam with others the better ... ideally someone a bit better than yourself, who has patience.

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at May 6, 2015,
#30
Quote by Rickholly74
... One thing he said to me that I always try to remember is make your solo something that adds to the overall melody and feel of the song and you can't go wrong.

You can try to amaze people by with your technique but they will probably remember you more if you move them emotionally by the sound and feel of your solo. Amen (and a woman).


+1, 100%

cheers, Jerry