#1
Im currently learning how to solo and i feel like it's impossible to memorize each pentatonic scale note by note. I don't see how anyone can possibly learn 12 scales and memorize them perfectly. Won't it be much quicker and easier to learn how to solo by memorizing only the roots and randomly playing the notes around them? That seems way more feasible than trying to memorize a ton of scales
Last edited by J23L at May 7, 2015,
#2
tbh (and i don't have a lot of experience with solos cause that aint my thang nahmean), i'd forget learning all the scales.

learn the patterns. c major and Bb major have the same pattern, just different starting points (and notes and whatever but the pattern is the same)

i reckon it will also probably take a lot of time, and I'd just say practice as much as you need, and feel free to experiment with stuff
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#3
Quite frankly, the best way to learn how to solo is..well... learning solos. The same scales exist in most types of music, so the scales per say doesn't make a solo sound jazz/metal/country etc, it is how you use them. And you won't learn how to use the scales and arpeggios that you learn unless you learn the real applications of them, so i would advice you to approach soloing from the standpoint of learning solos from artists you like first, by ear, and then see what scales and concepts are being used in them and study them.

Regarding memorizing scales, it is easier if you learn them as intervals instead of trying to memorizing them note by note. Learn that a minor pentatonic scale consists of the intervals : 1 (root) b3 (flat third) 4 (perfect fourth) 5 (perfect fifth) and b7 (flat seventh), that way it is easier to transfer the same knowledge to different keys.
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#4
Quote by J23L
Im currently learning how to solo and i feel like it's impossible to memorize each pentatonic scale note by note. I don't see how anyone can possibly learn 12 scales and memorize them perfectly. Won't it be much quicker and easier to learn how to solo by memorizing only the roots and randomly playing the notes around them? That seems way more feasible than trying to memorize a ton of scales


The answer is yes, you are completely correct.

If you learn how scales are constructed, or for noobs like me, the pattern on the fretboard for each of the scales, it's only a matter of figuring out what key you're in, and that's the root of your scale.
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#5
You shouldn't just memorize them as random patterns. As the others said, learn how the scales are constructed. That will make learning them a lot easier - you actually understand what you are learning. They aren't "random" any more.

Also, pay attention to the sound, don't just learn the fingerings.

Won't it be much quicker and easier to learn how to solo by memorizing only the roots and randomly playing the notes around them?

You don't want it to be random. Soloing is not random.

Learn other people's solos and figure out how they use the scales. I'm sure that will give better results than just playing scales up and down. That way you also learn to use them, not just play them up and down. Knowing a scale doesn't result in good music. You need to know how to use it. Knowing one scale and knowing how to use it is better than knowing hundreds of scales that you can't use.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#6
Quote by Sickz
Quite frankly, the best way to learn how to solo is..well... learning solos. The same scales exist in most types of music, so the scales per say doesn't make a solo sound jazz/metal/country etc, it is how you use them. And you won't learn how to use the scales and arpeggios that you learn unless you learn the real applications of them, so i would advice you to approach soloing from the standpoint of learning solos from artists you like first, by ear, and then see what scales and concepts are being used in them and study them.

Regarding memorizing scales, it is easier if you learn them as intervals instead of trying to memorizing them note by note. Learn that a minor pentatonic scale consists of the intervals : 1 (root) b3 (flat third) 4 (perfect fourth) 5 (perfect fifth) and b7 (flat seventh), that way it is easier to transfer the same knowledge to different keys.


Ok, I'll try to learn them as intervals. Thanks for the advice. How is the major pentatonic contructed?
#8
Start with the blues. Learn a simple blues solo that is within your ability and be able to play it relaxed at tempo. Once you can do this, learn a little more complex solo. Rinse, repeat. A solo should express a mood or feeling that compliments the lyrics of the song. Once you can do a few blues solos, try some jazz improv. Scales and patterns do matter but theme and melody matter more.
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#9
The best way to learn anything is to just repeatedly do it, I recommend soloing over backing tracks using your ears to pick out what you like and what you don't; but everyone learns differently.
#10
Knowing scales by the intervals is very useful and playing other peoples solos is the best way i found to know how to use scales, but do not dismiss learning the rhythm being played (if there is one) behind the solo you just learned. Knowing what the rhythm behind the solo is (i.e. the chord progression being played) will help you immensley to know why the solo starts on the note it does and why the following notes sound the way they do in the greater context of the song.
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#11
Learn the pentatonic scale well in several inversions and learn in several keys then locate a decent melodic solo that is devoid of anything like hammer on's, string bending, dive bombing etc. That comes later. The goal is to learn how to create a decent solo first, save the tricks for later. Find a few simple solos that you can keep up with. I suggest going on YouTube and looking songs by older blues players to start with. You'll find most blues solos will be based around pentatonic scales. Play along till you can do it with both the same notes but just as importantly the same timing. You'll begin to feel what makes that solo work and you will see how the pentatonic scale fits so well into that style. This is a good place to start understanding that solos are more than just simple scales. They are based on timing, melody and feel. This will translate to other styles and other scales pretty quickly. Don't give up.

Eric Clapton said B.B. King once told him that the notes you play are only as important as the notes you choose not to play. It's often the timing and dynamics that make a solo great.
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#13
Try learning a few solos (as mentioned above). Some of the first ones I learned were Smells Like Teen Spirit, Patience (GnR), and Rivers Of Love (Sarah Mclachlan). Good luck man!
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#14
Quote by J23L
Won't it be much quicker and easier to learn how to solo by memorizing only the roots and randomly playing the notes around them? That seems way more feasible than trying to memorize a ton of scales


There should be nothing "random" in the notes you play in a solo. The various notes in the scale are not interchangeable. They mean different things, musically.

Your goal, as a musician, is to learn to speak their language.

One way to do this is to learn how to play melodies. Practice listening to melodies and playing them. Start withs simple melodies that you know by heart - stuff like nursery rhymes and christmas carols. This will be difficult at first, that's okay. Keep at it.
#15
Quote by PSimonR
12 scales? What do you mean? There is only one pattern which is moved up and down the fretboard.

Do not take advice like this........
#16
Quote by PSimonR
12 scales? What do you mean? There is only one pattern which is moved up and down the fretboard.

Yes, but playing in the key of E is different from playing in the key of Bb. The patterns are the same, but in the key of Bb everything is played 6 frets higher. And when you play a solo, you want to focus on the sound. If you have to transpose everything up 6 frets all the time, it can be hard to focus on the sound. That's why I would say yes, you need to learn to play in all 12 major keys, not just one key. But the other keys will be easier to learn once you know the pattern. You just need to get used to playing in different keys.
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
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at May 7, 2015,
#17
Don't play scales, play chords.

Confused yet?

Okay, well what I mean is that if you take the above advice and learn a simple blues solo then you'll discover, with enough study and meditation, asceticism and homeless wandering (j/k) that what is really going on is the soloist is playing with and around the chord.

The simplest solo will just take the chord tones, so the root, fifth, octave, and work with that. But solos that you probably like to listen to have what's called tension, and what tension means is you're playing a note that's not a part of the chord you're playing, so a B note over a C chord...

So how do you do that? And why? And when do you do that?

Well, the simplest usage of something like a B note over a C Major chords is as a "passing tone," which is where scales come in.

So you play a C chord, and over that you play the C Maj scale:

CDEFGABC

What you'll find is the most sourest, weirdest, funkiest sounding note of all in the scale is that B. Why? It's a half-step below the root. It "leads to" the C note.

You'll find it really sounds good to play that B right before the C, but where, when?!

If you break it up in measures and play those seven notes, say the first C notes is a quarter note and the rest are eighth notes over 4/4 of C Major, well, if you approach that next C as the measure changes over it will sound nice and juicy, like, "AAAHHH!"

That's the idea.

You want to create that "AAAHH!!"

Pentatonic scales are just simpler scales built, mainly, around chord tones. Some notes, like 2 and 6 and 7, sound kinda weird over the chord, so pentatonic scales leave tones like that out, but ALWAYS feature what?

1 - 4 - 5 or maybe 1 - 3 - 5

Point is the 1 and 5 are always there. The 3 is usually there (it makes the scale and the chord "Major" or "minor").

The 4 is almost always "perfect," or exactly one string down, same fret, as the root. F is the 4th of C.

Practically every scale has a perfect four. If not, then it's augmented (4th).

Same can apply to the 5th. Usually, practically always it's "perfect," and G is the fifth of C, one string down, same fret, or one string and two frets up.

Look at a "power chord," what is that?

1 - 5 - 1

Okay, so if all you have is that power chord then you can play ANY scale you want, as long as it has the 1 and 5 in it. Major, minor, phyrgian, Chinese-Babylonian, whatever.

The simpler the chord the more "scale choices" you have.

The more complex the chord the more the scale is sort of defined for you. You might have 2-3 options instead of 500.

If you just drone on a low E note you can literally play ANYTHING on top of that and it will sound good. Try that!

Try droning on E and walking up and down your A string, somewhat randomly, and pick out different sounds with that. Nothing will sound bad, but you'll start to hear "sad" and "happy" and "kinda-country" and "sorta-blues" and "Egyptian sounding" and "Spanish sounding," etc., etc.

I like that drone E exercise because it's good ear training. It allows you to forget all the theory for a bit and simply listen...

How many metal songs go E.. something, E.. something else..?

A whole bunch.

There's a reason metal guitarists are known for playing all kinds of crazy, wacky scales. Limited harmonic depth. That's not always true, but you'll hear what I mean.

Think AC/DC, early Van Halen, a lot of that stuff plays off of the "drone" concept.

Having said all of that: approach learning to solo from two directions. 1) learn the theory and the concepts and learn some solos and be very precise and disciplined about that. 2) just bang around on some open strings or something and start to figure out what is pleasant to the ear.

At some point 1 and 2 converge and you realize, "AHA!" Steve Vai, or whoever, did XYZ crazy sophisticated thing BECAUSE that sounds awesome..

And it does.

Good luck.
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#18
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Yes, but playing in the key of E is different from playing in the key of Bb. The patterns are the same, but in the key of Bb everything is played 6 frets higher.

Yeah, I want his brain if he's able to transpose shit up 6 frets in real time and still play/improv musically.
#19
Quote by J23L
Im currently learning how to solo and i feel like it's impossible to memorize each pentatonic scale note by note. I don't see how anyone can possibly learn 12 scales and memorize them perfectly. Won't it be much quicker and easier to learn how to solo by memorizing only the roots and randomly playing the notes around them? That seems way more feasible than trying to memorize a ton of scales


1) Start by learning some easy solos by ear - blues and blues rock is where you want to start because they are easier genres. If you want something heavier, go with old Sabbath or some old Metallica. There's no point in wasting a lot of time learning scales out of context. So pick a song, learn the solo and then learn the scale/scales that apply to that solo. That way you'll have a musical context to see how the notes relate to the root and you'll learn it much faster. Understanding what chords are playing behind a solo is crucial as well.

2) learning all scales in all twelve keys is a complete waste of time unless you are looking to be a jazz player who, for some reason, needs to be able to play anything at any time in any context. Start by learning a few guitar friendly and common keys - Eminor, A Minor, D Major etc.

3) Guitar is a relative instrument - if you learn one pattern and then move it up two frets you are playing the scale in a different key - use this to your advantage but don't let it replace actually learning what you are playing.

4) Learn by ear, learn the scales/modes that apply to solos you learn and focus on the sounds of the intervals of each note in the scale in relation to the root.
Last edited by reverb66 at May 8, 2015,
#20
Quote by J23L
Im currently learning how to solo and i feel like it's impossible to memorize each pentatonic scale note by note. I don't see how anyone can possibly learn 12 scales and memorize them perfectly. Won't it be much quicker and easier to learn how to solo by memorizing only the roots and randomly playing the notes around them? That seems way more feasible than trying to memorize a ton of scales


If you're trying to memorize the pentatonic scale, note for note, you're probably wasting your time.

Imagine memorizing every word of the US Constitution. And now imagine just "knowing how to read". Now I can appreciate the content of the Constitution because I know how to read, not because I memorized a sequence of words.

What if you could play the pentatonic scale anywhere, and all you needed to know, is the note to start out on? As you said, the "root". Now would you play "random" from the root? Not really, unless you meant "random within the notes of that pentatonic". Then sure, why not?

When I initially teach people to play lead guitar, the first thing I do is have them improvising and exploring those pitches in the context of a backing track. It's a great way to find things you like, and get comfortable with pitch collections, and then build upon that with repertoire, as in learning solos, and adding to your knowledge.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at May 9, 2015,
#21
The best thing you can do is sing your scales as you practice them.
#22
^What Sean said.

Also learn a ton of solos, because you need vocab before you can go down the other road where you totally improvise.
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#23
Quote by J23L
Im currently learning how to solo and i feel like it's impossible to memorize each pentatonic scale note by note. I don't see how anyone can possibly learn 12 scales and memorize them perfectly. Won't it be much quicker and easier to learn how to solo by memorizing only the roots and randomly playing the notes around them? That seems way more feasible than trying to memorize a ton of scales



A lot of guitarists do mind blowing things as easily as it is for mere plebes to walk in the park.

Scales are very useful. But your ideas come from your mind. It's like learning to read and write, and to speak. There is a lot of sort of "theory" there, to help you create words and sentences to get your message across. But nothing to tell you what message to make. That's all you.

If you learn why scales are important, and how they work, it becomes a lot easier than you think it is. But still, guitar is a lot of work, and getting very good at it, is a long term project.