#1
Hey, guys! It's been a long time since I asked for advice on this forum, but this time I really need help.

Where I am, and where I want to go
I've been playing for 9 years, and my style has changed a lot in those years. In my earlier playing years, I used to play moderately fast, but these days I feel I've become a bit too slow. I feel that my solo playing needs more dynamics, and speed is definitely something that would spice it up. I want to blend some slow playing with some bursts of speed here and there. If you want to get a listen of where I am at the moment, listen to this improv: https://soundcloud.com/thomas-myhren/majorminor-funkbluesimprov

How I plan on doing it
The way I want to go about this is practicing the pentatonic scale with a metronome using various different exercises to connect the different boxes etc. I want to start at a certain BPM, and then increase the speed as I get it cleanly. After working up my speed, I plan on making some fast licks that incorporates a lot of the different boxes at a fast pace, and incorporating this in my playing.

One of my weaknesses
I have noticed that my fingers are slower when playing descending patterns ( like when you play an A minor pentatonic scale from the beginning; "E: 5-8, A: 5-7, D: 5-7 etc."), then when I'm playing descending (once again like A pentatonic: "E: 5-8, B: 5-8, G: 5-7"). This often causes me to rely heavily on descending patterns making my solos predictable and one-sided. So I want to improve my "ascending" fingers. tdlr: I'm playing faster going from the high E to the low E, than the opposite


This turned out to be a longer post than I intended, but I really want to gain some speed in order to enhance the dynamics in my solos. I would be really grateful for some advice, in advance, thanks! I would appreciate it if you would listen to the soundcloud link, in order tpo get a sense of where I am now.
Gear:
2011 Fender American Standard Stratocaster
2012 Tanglewood TW170

Boss Katana 100w 1x112
Line 6 HD500
Last edited by wyldelife at Nov 9, 2015,
#2
I'm the last person who should be advising you on this, but like a lot of bad habits it is hard to resist.

I listened to your example, and my thought was that trying to work up longer phrases may be more advantageous than simply trying to go faster on what you are already to doing. Passages that move across a couple of octave are a great way to create a sense of tension or climax. For example, I was listening yesterday to Slash doing a "Knockin'...." solo, it isn't fast, but the way it moves around is terrific.
#3
Ok, I listened to your track - your phrasing is great and you have a good command of your tone - that's a great base to work with. I think your proposed approach is ok, but not ideal. I'm not saying you shouldn't do that, but I think you should do it in addition to this:

1) learn some solos in the style that you are targeting. These solos really opened up my playing Funk/blues - check out :

a) Grant Green's tune Sookie Sookie - he's got a great solo in that tune where he plays some moderately fast pentatonic funk lines that are a goldmine for any guitarist. This will get you started on incorporating quicker lines. Turn some of those into exercises.

b) Robben Ford - Authorized Bootleg ( Live at Yoshi's) - "When I leave Here" and Chevrolet" have some moderately fast blues/funk lines that are worth checking out. This should be accessible to you and are easy to incorporate into improvisations.

c) John Scofield - A Go Go album " A Go Go and Chank are a must for any blues funk guitarist.

d) Wes Montgomery - Portrait of Wes " Freddie the Freeloader" - this is a jazz/blues solo that is a bit out there, but once you get a few of his lines under your belt, you'll have the secret to flying all over the fretboard. It's hard to explain, but his approach is so useful for incorporating bursts of speed that you'll end up interiorising it very quickly.

e) Eric Gales and Eric Johnson and Joe Bonamassa- for fast pentatonic runs these are the rock players that have it down to a science. Eric Johnson is the creator of that approach, with Eric and Joe copying him in their own way. Try learning a few lines - it's insanely fast so you won't be able to learn whole solos, but see if you can't find a few lines to practice. Eric gales plays a lot of blues and funk and has an amazing approach to fast pentatonic runs.

f) Guthrie Govan - if you want fast generally - he's the guy. He has some tutorials on You tube. he's more legato in his approach, but learn a few of his lines and you'll be flying.
Last edited by reverb66 at Nov 10, 2015,
#4
On the subject of practicing with a metronome - be sure to take one pattern and play it in quarter notes, then in triplets, then eight notes etc. This is something my Classical guitar teacher made me do with all the Segovia scales and which was part of the University curriculum. It really does a great job of allowing you to feel the different rythms and when you improvise you'll be able to play more interesting lines when playing fast.
#5
Tony and reverb, thank you SO MUCH for your replies! Very helpful!! I will check out your suggestions right away, reverb! Once again, thank you for taking time to help me!
Gear:
2011 Fender American Standard Stratocaster
2012 Tanglewood TW170

Boss Katana 100w 1x112
Line 6 HD500
#6
I am not half the musician that you are so take what I say however you want. Funk/Blues is not meant to be fast. Funk is a grove and Blues is a feeling. Neither one is helped by speed. You are technically proficient but not feeling the genre you are trying to play. I can't think of a genre of "black" music where the intent is not to try to wring out the emotion of every note possible. With these genres having a root in gospel music every note every sound is a cry to God. So in my opinion slow things down and milk your notes. Less becomes more
#7
Hey nice track you have there!
And yes having a good guitar speed playing is a great tool you can utilize.
I suggest you can take 1 typical fast blues lick, practice is as it is for a while. Then make it your own lick, by applying it to your playing situation (several different chord progressions) or modify it to your taste while still maintaining its theme. That way you will have a fast blues/funk lead solo playing that is usable in real musical context.
#8
I decided early on to avoid pentatonic scales not only to explore a little further and not sound like every other guy but also it seemed easier to get get fast with 3 notes per string scales instead of 2 and it gives you a lot more to work with.Of course many of my guitar heroes like Yngwie were way beyond pentatonics but not everyone.A lot of guitarists simply don't know what the're doing like Dave Mustaine but they just rip like nobody's business up and down the fretboard.Dimebag was like that too pretty much and he was a great player.
#9
I guess for the kind of music the OP wants to play, it will involve a lot of 2 notes per string pentatonic pattern, and it's wise to specifically practice the speed on things the OP want to play.
#10
A metronome to ramp up your speed will definitely help. You will find that you probably need to make some changes with your technique to get to certain levels. For both hands also.you'll want to practice in major scale patterns and with chromaticism as well. You could benefit from learning other patterns as well. That sounded to me like it was mostly pentatonics with very little of anything else, which isn't bad, really, but there is more at your disposal.

I didn't listen to the whole clip, so maybe that was jjust the first part, idk.
#11
Quote by bobbyprayogo
I guess for the kind of music the OP wants to play, it will involve a lot of 2 notes per string pentatonic pattern, and it's wise to specifically practice the speed on things the OP want to play.


To get the sound of speed he wants he will often want to play major/minor/chromatic scale.

He will want to move in and out of the pentatonic at will with any finger. To play quickly and freely, you really need quite a lot of mastery for all fingers playing any pattern.

When you play really quickly, you need to use the nearest finger to play the nearest note, without making yourself stuck. That could be any finger depending on the phrase and the next note you want.

That style might work well with pentatonics, but sticking purely to pentatonics is really basic and amateurish. Even though its a great and useful tool. It is really tough to get that speed sound with 2 notes per string also although there is that one string you get the common chromatic.

When you go quickly the in between notes matter less tonally and more rhythmically than melodic phrasing.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 11, 2015,
#12
Quote by fingrpikingood
To get the sound of speed he wants he will often want to play major/minor/chromatic scale.

He will want to move in and out of the pentatonic at will with any finger. To play quickly and freely, you really need quite a lot of mastery for all fingers playing any pattern.

When you play really quickly, you need to use the nearest finger to play the nearest note, without making yourself stuck. That could be any finger depending on the phrase and the next note you want.

That style might work well with pentatonics, but sticking purely to pentatonics is really basic and amateurish. Even though its a great and useful tool. It is really tough to get that speed sound with 2 notes per string also although there is that one string you get the common chromatic.

When you go quickly the in between notes matter less tonally and more rhythmically than melodic phrasing.


I am sorry but I have to disagree, because I experience it myself that I have been
practicing 3 notes per string major/minor and even harmonic minor/phrygian dominant stuff for much of my practice, then recently I joined a blues rock band. I can't use 3 notes per string too much else it doesnt fit the style that our band wants to play. I have to set a specific practice session for pentatonic blues style practice, including building speed, combining fast run with bend and vibrato to accommodate the kind of playing I want for my blues rock band.
The challenge is to stay within pentatonic scale and still sounds good. Of course there are instance I incorporate mixolydian and a bit of dorian scale along with some chromatic stuff, but the basic is still pentatonic scale.
I can play 3 notes per string well but the speed doesnt translate well to 2 notes per string pentatonic,which is required for the kind of music I want to play in my band. It is different when I am playing my instrumental rock guitar stuff and I agree with you that learning 3 nps scale run and build speed there definitely gives guitarist huge tools to use.

Best Regard

Bobby
#13
Quote by bobbyprayogo
I am sorry but I have to disagree, because I experience it myself that I have been
practicing 3 notes per string major/minor and even harmonic minor/phrygian dominant stuff for much of my practice, then recently I joined a blues rock band. I can't use 3 notes per string too much else it doesnt fit the style that our band wants to play. I have to set a specific practice session for pentatonic blues style practice, including building speed, combining fast run with bend and vibrato to accommodate the kind of playing I want for my blues rock band.
The challenge is to stay within pentatonic scale and still sounds good. Of course there are instance I incorporate mixolydian and a bit of dorian scale along with some chromatic stuff, but the basic is still pentatonic scale.
I can play 3 notes per string well but the speed doesnt translate well to 2 notes per string pentatonic,which is required for the kind of music I want to play in my band. It is different when I am playing my instrumental rock guitar stuff and I agree with you that learning 3 nps scale run and build speed there definitely gives guitarist huge tools to use.

Best Regard

Bobby


Well you're free to your opinion. I find sticking to pentatonics gets sounding real monotonous and amateurish after a while, no matter what style of music it is. I also find that pentatonics due to their geometry, are tough to really get that extra gear of speed, and I can go faster using other methods. For me, freestyle should be fully honest and impulsive and free. That's the goal, so unless you plan only having ideas that are pentatonics, then you'll need to practice other things. There is no time to guess or estimate at full speed. My goal, dexterity-wise, is for my hands to be able to accomplish any task I ask of them at the speed I want. That's frequently not pentatonics, in any style of music.

I'm not sure why you use 3nps, and other techniques, but only advocate learning pentatonics, for any genre. I love pentatonics too, but there is a lot more to music than that, imo. And if you want to really step it up a notch in speed, in any genre, then you will benefit from practicing things that are not pentatonics.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 13, 2015,
#14
Pentatonics are only amateurish in the hands of amateurs. Listen to Kurt Rosenwinkel or Eric Gales. Not much of an amateur sound coming from their use of pentatonics. You can make pentatonics sound very interesting if you avoid basic cliches. For instance, odd rhythmic groupings for common pentatonic patterns can really change the whole sound - Eric Johnson and Eric Gales use this to great effect. Kurt Rosenwinkel is kind of in a league of his own, but he's worth mentioning.

Pentantonics create less harmonic clutter than running through a typical scale or mode, which is why they lend themselves well to improvising and fast passages.
#15
Quote by reverb66
Pentatonics are only amateurish in the hands of amateurs. Listen to Kurt Rosenwinkel or Eric Gales. Not much of an amateur sound coming from their use of pentatonics. You can make pentatonics sound very interesting if you avoid basic cliches. For instance, odd rhythmic groupings for common pentatonic patterns can really change the whole sound - Eric Johnson and Eric Gales use this to great effect. Kurt Rosenwinkel is kind of in a league of his own, but he's worth mentioning.

Pentantonics create less harmonic clutter than running through a typical scale or mode, which is why they lend themselves well to improvising and fast passages.


Of course, but if you stick to pentatonics forever, I find that sounds monotonous and amateurish after a while no matter what you do. Just like you can play many interesting songs in the same key, but if you play every song in the key of E, that will sound amateurish and monotonous to my ears.

I'm pretty confident that those players you mentioned don't stick strictly to pentatonics. I'd be very surprised if they did.
#16
Quote by fingrpikingood


I'm pretty confident that those players you mentioned don't stick strictly to pentatonics.


True.
#17
Thank you all for very good responses! One thing I'm having a hard time with is motivating myself to learn the major scale, dorian, mixolydian and all these types of scales. In my mind I always say to myself: "I can use all these notes in the pentatonic scale, why should I bother focusing on these "scales". I find this to be a destructive way of thinking, but I'm having a hard time seeing the usage of these scales. Sometimes I "fantasize" about trying to "forget" the pentatonic scale and only play the shape of mixolydian (for example), but it ends up being way too boxy and formulaic to be called musical (my playing, not the scale itself).

And another thing, does anyone know a solution for my weakness mentioned in the OP?
Gear:
2011 Fender American Standard Stratocaster
2012 Tanglewood TW170

Boss Katana 100w 1x112
Line 6 HD500
#19
Quote by Tony Done
^^^^^ FWIW, I think of all scales as extra notes added to ether pentatonics or chords. I don't get a headache thinking about it when I do that.


But you also not the fastest player in the world, as I recall.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 13, 2015,
#20
Quote by wyldelife
Thank you all for very good responses! One thing I'm having a hard time with is motivating myself to learn the major scale, dorian, mixolydian and all these types of scales. In my mind I always say to myself: "I can use all these notes in the pentatonic scale, why should I bother focusing on these "scales". I find this to be a destructive way of thinking, but I'm having a hard time seeing the usage of these scales. Sometimes I "fantasize" about trying to "forget" the pentatonic scale and only play the shape of mixolydian (for example), but it ends up being way too boxy and formulaic to be called musical (my playing, not the scale itself).

And another thing, does anyone know a solution for my weakness mentioned in the OP?


I don't bother with the modes either. The pentatonic is only 2 notes short of the major scale. It's not just the notes either, it's the geometry. Guitar isn't a basic and simp[le layout like piano is, so you need to learn patterns to help you get around more easily. There are often multiple ways to play the same note, or string of notes, but the geometry will suit some things better than others, like a slide, or a bend, or hammer on, or fast run, or what have you. All the modes are geometrically exactly the same.

To fix your problems I'd have to be giving you personal attention, and analyzing exactly how you play.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 13, 2015,
#22
Quote by fingrpikingood
Of course, but if you stick to pentatonics forever, I find that sounds monotonous and amateurish after a while no matter what you do. Just like you can play many interesting songs in the same key, but if you play every song in the key of E, that will sound amateurish and monotonous to my ears.

I'm pretty confident that those players you mentioned don't stick strictly to pentatonics. I'd be very surprised if they did.


Definitely no one would stick to only pentatonic forever.
The point of my post is, when I thought I am fast enough and good enough playing major/minor scale in 3nps, I would be good enough for anything. When I try to play 2 nps pentatonic, I didn't really do well because I didn't really specifically practice pentatonic.
The lesson learned is we need to set aside specific time learning the specific scale and its fingering.
Learning purely pentatonic is just one of the many aspects, depending on what do you want to play, in the case of playing funk&blues, pentatonic should be high priority.
For me, I have always been learning much 3 nps major and minor scale, along with some exotic scale, incorporating them all in my improvisation.
Then when the time come for me to play some gary moore and srv, I have to set aside time for much pentatonic scale practice and 2 nps fingering.
I have 3 nps major/minor/harmonic minor/phrygian dominant/melodic minor already practiced(and "non blues technique" such as sweep picking and tapping), but I choose not to use them and try to get myself sounding good and fast with pentatonic only because it fits the music well. Of course when I think it fits the music, I will definitely incorporate them into the improvising, maybe its mixolydian, maybe it's chromatic, or diminished,etc
So, no, it's not about forgetting other scale and just learn pentatonic.
It's about improving the way you play pentatonic, and you don't have to forsake what you already know about anything else
Last edited by bobbyprayogo at Nov 15, 2015,
#24
That was great. I really dig it. But you didn't really add much speed afaict. Not that it needed any, but from what I saw you got your little faster runs through hammerons in your pentatonic, which is fine, it was a great improvisation, but you could be more powerful still. Keep pushing, and you could maybe even rival Guthrie one day.