#1
I've been playing for about 5 years, and I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about music theory, but something I've always had a problem with is improvisation.

I believe that my problem stems from years of playing unaccompanied in my room and noodling away all day. I've never gotten to start a band, due to the fact that I live in East TN...a very, very ****ty place to find other musicians.

I can sit and learn advanced licks from players like Randy Rhoads and even a little Yngwie, but I can't use those advanced techniques in my own playing because I always **** up and play a bunch of jumbled notes that don't fit at all with the rhythm track. However, if I sit and hum out a solo and learn it, I can compose some fairly good ones. I just can't improvise it. I can go off on some fairly technical Metal riffs all day long, but when it comes time to solo over them...I sound like a drunken Kurt Cobain (yes, it's THAT bad!).

People always tell me to just practice more, but I'm lost. I've been trying to get better at improv since I first started playing lead, but the only thing that's gotten better is my technique. What can I do?
#2
Well, you said that you can "hum out a solo and learn it", so why not do that?

When you're listening to your music (which I'm assuming is mostly Metal and Shred), why don't you hum something over that to get some ideas?

Also, I'd recommend recording what you play (and make sure you record what you're playing to, not just the lead part), and try to "study" that to see what you can and can't play to make the song sound good.
#3
You need to practice what you're having trouble with -- improvisation!

Play to backing tracks and/or use a metronome. It sounds like some of your
problems are related to rythym.

You can't really just regurgitate stuff you memorized when improvising -- well, that's
not improvising. But, you can use some of that in your own playing.

Start with a simple chord progression and play around with a scale or two.
Pentatonic with Blues is generally a pretty easy way to start so you get used
to making up stuff on the spot by fooling around with the scale.
#4
Heartbreaker: It's different to hum out a solo, rather than improvise on the spot. I've got that problem too.

I'm thinking go read up on theory, all that scales and stuff. I've been too lazy, but I have the impression that would help.
#5
Quote by CrowbarTom
I've been playing for about 5 years, and I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about music theory, but something I've always had a problem with is improvisation. I believe that my problem stems from years of playing unaccompanied in my room and noodling away all day. I've never gotten to start a band, due to the fact that I live in East TN...a very, very ****ty place to find other musicians.
This is surprising. I would think there'd be tons of players somewhere in the general vicinity of the University of Tennessee.
I can sit and learn advanced licks from players like Randy Rhoads and even a little Yngwie, but I can't use those advanced techniques in my own playing because I always **** up and play a bunch of jumbled notes that don't fit at all with the rhythm track. However, if I sit and hum out a solo and learn it, I can compose some fairly good ones. I just can't improvise it. I can go off on some fairly technical Metal riffs all day long, but when it comes time to solo over them...I sound like a drunken Kurt Cobain (yes, it's THAT bad!). People always tell me to just practice more, but I'm lost. I've been trying to get better at improv since I first started playing lead, but the only thing that's gotten better is my technique. What can I do?
You're on the right track with the humming bit. I'd also encourage you to devote some disciplined time during every practice session to learning melodies. This should include anything you've ever heard, including melodies from the classical masters, Broadway show tunes, whatever you're currently listening to, everything. This will force you to play things you'd never try otherwise. It will also give you many new ideas for your humming exercise.

I'd also encourage you to invest in some kind of jam tracks program and discipline yourself to improvise over some enforced rhythm, no matter how bad you think you're playing. You will improve.

Record everything you do and listen to the playbacks, always. And listen not just for things you want to improve, but also for things you played well. I can almost guarantee you're playing some things much better than you think. Guitarists are almost always too critical of their own playing.

Also, there's almost certainly somebody within driving distance who'd like to jam. Visit some music stores to get some names and numbers and just work the phone until you find another player. You may have already done this, but I suggest you do it again and again until something clicks.

And keep working on your technique. You can never have too much technique, and when you improvization begins to improve (and it will improve!), you'll experience a quantum leap in your confidence and musicianship.

All the best,
gpb
All things are difficult before they are easy.
- Dr. Thomas Fuller (British physician, 1654-1734)
Quote by Freepower
For everything you need to know - gpb0216.
#6
allright so i belive this is how its done. to me it just came to me but becuase i did all these things.
- Learn your scales ( that you will be using when improvising )
- Learn your chord tones
- Practice with a metronome
- Play with backing tracks
- Watch how pro guitarists use their licks when improvising
- Use a metronome on those licks you learn so you can incorporate it into any tempo wanted without it sounding "weird"
- Also read up on chord progressions how they work with scales so you know which ones to use.

That's it I hope it helped
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Last edited by lespaulkevin at Aug 17, 2006,
#8
Quote by bangoodcharlote


Yeah, watch that! Very good video on improv. I disagree a bit on some of the
stuff he says in there, but overall it is spot on.

Prior to actually watching that, I realized a while back that you take your soloing to
another level when you actually follow the chords, rather than just stick within
a key.

Good practice for this is to learn your maj and min arpeggio's in all positions.
Then just start taking chord progressions and play only the arpeggio of the
current chord. Do this all over, from anywhere on the neck. When you get
that down cold, you'll have a very usefull improv skill.
#9
Quote by CrowbarTom
I've been playing for about 5 years, and I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about music theory, but something I've always had a problem with is improvisation.

I believe that my problem stems from years of playing unaccompanied in my room and noodling away all day. I've never gotten to start a band, due to the fact that I live in East TN...a very, very ****ty place to find other musicians.

I can sit and learn advanced licks from players like Randy Rhoads and even a little Yngwie, but I can't use those advanced techniques in my own playing because I always **** up and play a bunch of jumbled notes that don't fit at all with the rhythm track. However, if I sit and hum out a solo and learn it, I can compose some fairly good ones. I just can't improvise it. I can go off on some fairly technical Metal riffs all day long, but when it comes time to solo over them...I sound like a drunken Kurt Cobain (yes, it's THAT bad!).

People always tell me to just practice more, but I'm lost. I've been trying to get better at improv since I first started playing lead, but the only thing that's gotten better is my technique. What can I do?

go back to the blues, play along with backing tracks . also check out a p.c program band in a box. also check out the book the heavy guitar bible 2 the art of rock guitar by richard danials at www.heavyguitar .com. good luck, hope this helps you!
#10
I read a tip once that you should practice by playing on just one string. That will make you focus more on the melody, than on moving around the fretboard randomly