Okay, so I have been playing guitar for about 3 or 4 years now (on and off) and I have decided to take a serious step and learn some music theory. My goal here is to improvise a solo in a jam session, maybe write some songs using scales and such, build chords without having to search all over the internet looking for what a chord looks like. Right now I have decided to use rocks most used scale in soloing as my first try, and that is the pentatonic scale.

My plan is to learn it in all positions in the key of E, then move into different keys after I am comfortable with improvising in E. However, I have a few questions:
1. How do I make my solos not sound like they are just running up and down the scale.
2. What should I be soloing over (I want to play a wide veriety of music styles, Blues, Metal, rock but mostly metal).
3. Should I find myself a teacher to teach me these things, or will I be better off doing trial and error?
4. Should I be learning the positions in box shapes, or how else could I learn them? I suppose I could go on every string and memorize that for each key...


Last edited by pepsi_lovr at Oct 20, 2007,
There are 2 pentatonics, Minor and Major

Learn Minor first, its more of a sad feel, but it doesnt have to be
The major is almost the exact same, but the statring box shape is the 2nd one of the minor

hammer ons, pull offs, slides and vibratos always make it sound like your not running up and down it
Oh, sry shoulda been more clear, ***I am learning the minor pentatonic scale***

It's best to find yourself a good teacher if you can.
But anyway i will answer to your questions:

1.To not run up or down the scale.
Seriously, use different rhythms, techniques (hammer on, pull off, tapping), use arpeggios, listen and analise your favorite solos.

2.Get some backing tracks!
Or a rhythm player.

4.If you know notes of pentatonic scale, and you know notes on fretboard... Voila!
Also, this may be difficult in beginning so learn how scale works on one string, and few box positions and connect them, soon you will know it all over the fretboard.

Hope I helped.
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happy new yeeae guyas.
If you want to learn theory properly, the best thing to do is learn the major scale first, and while you're doing that learn the notes on the fretboard. That way you can see how all the other scales relate to it which makes it easier to learn them. Pretty much every aspect of western musical theory is centered around the major scale, so without it you're missing a big chunk of basic knowledge and also missing the vital bit of info that links everything together.

If you desperately want to learn the minor pentatonic first then at the very least you have to learn the notes on the fretboard first, you can't actually learn a scale without knowing them.
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Learn the Pentatonic scale in box forms, there are 5 that cover 12 frets (one octave) which you can repeat anywhere on the fretboard. (Its called the CAGED system) I'd suggest finding the diagrams for A minor pentatonic (Which you can use to play in C major or C major pentatonic too) and once you have them all memorized you can just move the entire pattern of the 5 boxes up or down a fret and you change the key. Once you have learnt the boxes and are comfortable, you could also try learning each strings notes.

As for not running up and down the scale, think outside the box. Start on a note, play the next three or so notes, then go back to the starting note, play it again if you like. Adding notes that arent in the scale (Dissonance) can give it a bit more of a unique sound especially if you play metal. Note bends are also tremendously awesome and there are plenty of different types of them (Pre bends, Double bends, Bend vibratos, microtone bends etc.) so you should start practicing with them now. Also string skipping can help alot, and chord arpeggios.

Just add some pauses every now and then, and let your fingers explore along the scale, experimentation is really the best way, as you will slowly find yourself getting your own style of what you think sounds good and whatnot. Good luck!
The easiest was to get yourself thinking outside the box is not to use them in the first place.
Actually called Mark!

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Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.

I used box scales as references while learning the minor pentatonic, but try not to think of the notes you're playing as box shapes. The goal is when you think minor pentatonic, to see where the scale is on the whole fretboard, not box 1 goes to box 2 etc.
Quote by steven seagull
The easiest was to get yourself thinking outside the box is not to use them in the first place.

not true. I learned them as boxes, and I can easily jam out around the neck.
When you get right down to it, knowing and feeling the boxes, shapes and
patterns on the guitar fretboard is the beauty of playing the instrument. But,
you also have to know what the notes you're using mean in the context of what
you're playing.

There's all kinds of shapes and patterns that will help you memorize and internalize
the meaning of the notes. The trick is to be able relate and overlay different
patterns simultaneously that achieve both objectives of getting your fingers to the
right spot and knowing what the notes mean.

So, to get back to the topic, "learning" a scale is a lot more than memorizing the
finger positions -- a linear pattern of 2nds (which is what going up & down a scale
mostly is) is just the most basic pattern to start with. There's lots more patterns you
really should begin to learn and I'd suggest the next best step would be triad
i say learn it first in A because if you learn it on low E it may feel weird because then you have to play open strings which can get very confusing if you learn it in A it could feel better at first. im a blues player so i like to use that scale alot so if yu want examples and stuff message me.
I've begun learning the Minor Pentatonic...

In my opinion i'd say the boxes are okay to learn with, as long as you don't rely on the boxes themselves to write music... because then you won't be able to stop thinking in boxes...

Just learn the scale in the boxes... then forget the boxes...
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^ The boxes might be good for a starter, or if you desperately need to improvise a little solo on a song and you have like 5 minutes to practice, 'cuz then you can just look it up and get a feel of where to play and try it out - at least you are hitting the right notes

But as seagull said, don't forget the major scale or the notes on the fretboard, learning these in the beginning will make it easier in the long run.
I know what you mean about the solos sounding like going up and down the scale. It's a problem I faced as well. I found out playing a root note and then a 5th, then back to the root and maybe a 4th and stuff like that will help it from sounding too scalar. Also try jumping large intervals, like more than an octave. The thing about that is that it can't sound awkward... it has to go somewhere.