#1
So, while I can practice something into the ground and be able to play it, obviously technique will be lagging during improv because you've never played those runs exactly that way. So what I'm asking is, any good practice tips for improving my general technique when I'm improvising, or is this going to come naturally from all my other practicing, just obviously slower than when I'm preparing music?

For example, I feel that something that would help me out a lot is playing a lot more of scales by intervals, so I get used to all the different leaps. Or alternating picking and legato, etc. More tips?
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#2
...Don't use the same licks over and over again while improvising.
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#3
watch the marty friedman video for melodic control to start with

really you just want to think about the chord you're coming up on continually is the best way to put it. and practice improv'ing a LOT (i recommend doing it over everything you can, i'll often turn on the radio and pick a random station and play with whatever the hell comes in, be it country, jazz, blues, rock, classical, pop, techno, rap etc etc etc)
#4
I find a baseball analogy works pretty well:

I probably have around 30-40 basic scale patterns I know and work on them as
technique, rhythmic and melodic practicing. I'll rotate what I'm working on at
any given time and also do variations of them. This is my "farm team". As I
reach a certain degree of familiarity with them, I'll start giving them "tryouts in
the big leagues" -- when improvising. Sometimes they still don't make the cut
and have to go back, sometimes they get promoted to the show right away,
sometimes a provisional contract, sometimes sent back down with revisions.

I'm always revisiting stuff in practice anyway. Nothing is ever really finished.
Occaisonally I'll add a completely new pattern. New stuff has slowed quite a bit as
already have just about all the basic stuff I want to do in my current set.

Quote by sirpsycho85

For example, I feel that something that would help me out a lot is playing a lot more of scales by intervals, so I get used to all the different leaps. Or alternating picking and legato, etc. More tips?


Oh, yes. 3rds, 4ths and 5ths (in desceding importance, at least) should be in your
very basic scale toolbox.

One way to look at how most people learn scales is they learning going up and
then going down. Well, that's basically just 2nds. Problem is, they just stop
there.

Oh, very important with all the patterns -- do them up and down the entire neck
(in all the "boxes"). What I mean by a scale "pattern", means everywhere....
Last edited by edg at Sep 5, 2007,
#5
That's pretty good advice edg. I also have this book, a focus of which supposedly is learning similar ideas in different parts of the guitar so you don't have "fifth position licks" and "twelfth position licks", just melodic ideas period. Any more advice?
"I see my light come shining from the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now I shall be released"

Know any good teachers in NY, especially skilled in teaching ear training? Tell me
#6
For the major, harmonic and melodic minor scales, I do them all as 3 note per
string scales (7 positions going up the neck). I highly advise these for soloing.
It makes all patterns completely regular, decreasing the amount you need to
memorize, easily transfer ideas between scales, not to mention ease of economy
picking. Anyone not using this these days is making it harder on themselves.

I'll work on a pattern or idea in every single position. If its less than a 6 string
pattern I'll do them on all strings. I'll make smaller repeating patterns and
work on them descending up and down through all the positions.

Its a bit of work doing that at first, but sooner than you think, you'll just start
seeing the scale on the whole neck better, and you'll only need to see a new
pattern in one spot and easily play it anywhere on the neck almost immediately.

For most of the patterns and ideas, I got started with "Sheets of Sound"
Vols I & II. Those 2 volumes have put more content and variety and ability
to "see" the fretboard better than all my other guitar books combined. Needless
to say, I think its about the best book on the planet and a book everyone who's
into improv and soloing should have. The thing is, all you need to do is start
memorizing the scale studies in there. You don't even have to think about it
much. After a few of them, you'll really start to get it ....
#7
Quote by edg
Needless to say, I think its about the best book on the planet

What about Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar?

I own neither of these books, but I think just reading what you write about them has benfitted me greatly!

Threadstarter, if you practice every different pattern/movement you can think of, you will eventually have the flexibility in your technique to do anything in improv. There is a finite amount of movements that the right hand can do, and a finite amount of movements the left hand can do. Of course, combining them creates a much greater number, but I guess I'm just trying to say that it's not impossible.
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#8
z4twenny had some great advice, I've done that a lot. Turn on a radio and jam with whatever they throw at you.

I usually try to fit a lead to the song. Some songs just seem to be good for improvising, some demand something that follows the melody line. Especially on a lot of slow country songs the only way I can do a decent lead is to work around the melody line.
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#9
Quote by sirpsycho85
So, while I can practice something into the ground and be able to play it, obviously technique will be lagging during improv because you've never played those runs exactly that way. So what I'm asking is, any good practice tips for improving my general technique when I'm improvising, or is this going to come naturally from all my other practicing, just obviously slower than when I'm preparing music?

For example, I feel that something that would help me out a lot is playing a lot more of scales by intervals, so I get used to all the different leaps. Or alternating picking and legato, etc. More tips?


What you need to do is to learn a decent amount of basic patterns and sequences. This works well with alternate picking for instance. What you do is you learn basic patterns, shapes and different ways to tackle the scale you use in your improvising. Once you have these down you can play virtually anything you want because these patterns work in any part of the neck in any scale. It's also essential that you're familiar with the modes of major scale (possibly with melodic minor and harmonic minor too).

I suggest stealing some of Paul Gilbert's alternate picking patterns from his video Intese Rock I to get you started.
#10
@Galvanise69
Learn your scales. I cannot stress this enough. Once you know your scale patterns up and down the neck it eliminates guessing whether a note is right or not. You can still play notes that might clash a bit with what is playing, but mostly you will be playing notes that sound reasonably good. The next thing to do is to start working out what notes to play together to sound good. For example, if I'm in E minor what I might do is play an E, then skip to the B, then play C, then A, then back to B, then probably the E above the B. I skip around a lot, but I try not to skip too much. You need to practice it and see what sounds good.

@sirpsycho85
Work on individual techniques I guess, and then practice just soloing over random tracks on your own. Such as, practice learning heaps of different sweeping patterns, then practice sweeping over random songs. Use your ear as well as your scale knowledge to play the right sweeps.
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#11
Quote by La Qotsa
...Don't use the same licks over and over again while improvising.


during practice its good to try the same licks over again staying in the same key, but moving it around. I mean, not moving it up 12 frets so its the exact same thing, but seeing that shape/pattern through the scale

imo
#13
I'd like to say here (correct me if I'm wrong) that while yes, learning the scales is incredibly useful, its not there so that way you can go up and down various scales as improv. I made that mistake, and I've learned that its just there to help you realize what notes go with what (at least for me) and how it will turn out. For me I can't come up to a solo by myself to save my life, but when I sit down with a friend and he comes up with a nice rhythm I can solo the night away :P. Thats not necessarily a good thing but thats a start ( I need work on it too)

Oh yea, and different techniques depending on your style. I play metal, so naturally I learned arpeggios, double tapping, and some tremolo techniques, among others.
#14
I have a problem with playing the same licks repeatedly too, it's not an easy rut to get out of. I tried for speed more than anything else for a long time, until I read about what BB King told Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Vaughn played a blues festival with BB and sat in for a bit. He played everything he could come up with and the first note, one single note, BB King blew Vaughn right off the stage. When he asked later "How did you do that?" BB told him to make every note count. Put everything you have into every note.

It's not how many notes you can play in 4 seconds, it's what those notes say to the listener. BB King and David Gilmour can say more in one note than most guitarists can in 10 minutes. Clapton is damn close.

I'm trying to do that now, it's the hardest thing I've ever tried to do, but I go for the simplest, most melodic leads I can, except with some of the hardest rockers the band plays, and even some of those. Listen to just about anything Gilmour does. Nothing fast, nothing fancy, yet he has a reputation as one of the greatest guitar players in the world. And he is. Simple, melodic, tasteful guitar will go a lot further than speed picking. I've started finger picking most of the time just to change my entire outlook on guitar and get more soul into the thing. I can still play pretty fast even finger picking, but it's not easy and forces me to slow down and put some melody in there.

Put everything you have into every note, and try not to play too many of them.
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#15
A rather odd exercise that could help is to have a conversation with someone, but instead of you yourself talking, have your guitar talk to the person. It helps a ton with lyrical phrasing.
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