#1
I've been playing guitar for a few years now and seem to have it a brick wall. I know the Pentatonic scale in all positions and I know all of the modal scales. I find that I can learn songs using Guitar Pro and I like the sense of achievement I get when it's done but when it comes to music of my own it all seems to fall apart. As soon as I put a backing track on and try to improvise over it I seem to start playing like a complete novice and my mind goes blank. This is getting very frustrating! I know I'm a reasonable player but if I get with other musicians and we start jamming I feel like a right loser because I don't seem to be able to play anything other than really simple stuff. Learning a song is easier as I know where my fingers have to go next but I really want to be able to start jamming with other musicians and maybe join a band but I can't while I'm in this situation. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

To give you an idea of my ability, the last few songs I've learned, including solos are:

Let it Roll - UFO
Rock Bottom - UFO
Losfer Words - Iron Maiden
Am I Evil? - Metallica
Cryin - Joe Satriani

I'm best on 'Cryin', which is almost perfect, 'Am I Evil' still needs a little work on the solo to get it smoot and the other 3 are pretty good most of the time.
#2
well, me, i wouldn't join a band if i was in your position. it will only make you feel less motivated (or not), and will give a bad impression to other musicians, which will be bad for your self-esteem
what you should do is, instead of learning more and more songs all the time, just start playing whatever. get a scale, and start improvising. no backing track needed. just take your time and start slowly. try and take time to actually think about the next note you want to play.
singing notes and then playin them on the guitar can be very useful too, i would say.
#3
The best advice I can give you is this: don't give up, keep practicing.

Here is a fun concept: Go to your sequencer and make a nice little 3-chord progression, and play little phrases in your scale of choice, and try hitting notes at the beginning of each chord that sound good (sonant) over the chord. For example when the G chord comes up play any of: G(1st)B(3d)D(5th) notes. This will make whatever you play sound like it fits the song. This is a challenging and fun way to get you started.

I recommend you DO play over chords, start with a single chord if you have to. Playing leads over nothing wouldn't help you any once you come across a band situation. Practicing only with scales and no chords will make you crappy guitarist.

Take a slow song you know such Cryin', and record the chords. While the chords are playing make up your own solo over the chords. Use scales, find out with key the song is in, and stay in that key.

Improvising is easily one of the most important skill you can learn as a guitarist. To be a good improviser practice the following:

Aural Skills (gives you the ability to hear solos and music in your head)
Music Theory (answers all the why this chord why this scale questions)

Those are just a few tips and I could talk all night about this... Make up your own little Improvisational exercises and practice your weaknesses. They make excellent and fun practice sessions. Keep in mind we all get frustrated, just keep practicing.
#4
Quote by Doadman
As soon as I put a backing track on and try to improvise over it I seem to start playing like a complete novice and my mind goes blank. This is getting very frustrating!


Well, there's number of ways you could approach this (and you likely will need
a number of approaches to get things to start clicking), but what I'd suggest is this:

Narrow the focus of what you're going to learn to improvise to: take a standard
I - IV - V Blues progression and make it your goal that with *only* that progression
you ARE going to learn to improvise.

Give yourself a lot of time to learn how to work with those chords in that order.
One thing about Blues is it's easy to get into, but to do it well and you have to
learn things that will help you everywhere else. Rock and Jazz come from the
Blues and if you can do it well, it will help you a lot with them too. Within that
structure, try some different approaches: learn blues licks, play around with
scales, arpeggiate chords ... eventually you'll start to click on it.
#5
Definately try the sing that note before you play it technique. That helped me a lot when I was learning to improvise. It teaches you to recognize intervals in your playing. Start small with just the minor pentatonic scale. Then, once you can play with that pretty solidly, add some other notes, like the blue note (or b5).

Also, begin to learn songs strictly by ear. It's very difficult at first, but trust me, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Finally, add some licks that you have learned into your improvisations. But don't play them exactly alike. After all, you don't want to be Kirk Hammet or Satch, you want to be you!
"It is always advisable to be a loser if you cannot become a winner." - Frank Zappa

The name's Garrett.

Gear and stuff:
Taylor 310
American Strat w/ Texas Specials
Ibanez JS1000
Vox Wah (true bypass & LED mod)
Dr. Z Maz 18 JR NR
#6
Thanks for all the feedback, it's great to know I'm not alone in this as last night I was ready for putting my guitar through the window

Keeping to a basic chord progression seems sensible so I'm currently reading through the manual for my GNX on recording but I wondered if there were any simple backing tracks I could download from somewhere. I know a few sites that do backing tracks but only for actual songs and I'm not sure which is best. Alternatively, is there a suitable track I could use on Guitar Pro but simply use the tab to give me some basic ideas to build on? Despite how demoralising it becomes, I will endeavour to stick with it
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1
#8
You could easily make a 12 bar blues backing track in gp to do what edg suggested just loop it and play it slow at first. If you want i could make you one later when i get home from work it would take like 15 min to make a 12 bar loop. Let me know.
#9
That would be really good of you, thank you, I'd appreciate that very much.

It's been an up and down week so far. I tried a Blues based backing track from jamcenter.com and mostly stuck to a Pentatonic scale, which sounded OK though seemed a little repetitive in places. In fairness, I was playing along to it for well over 5 minutes so I guess that may be forgiveable. Encouraged by that I tried a different improvisation the next night and it was complete crap. It just sounded like the same old rubbish over and over again. Perhaps the reality of the situation is somewhere in the middle. My kids thought it was good but then they can't play a note and conversely, it has to be said that I'm my own harshest critic. Well, I'm going to go and practise again so we'll see if the guitar is through the window in an hour's time
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1
#10
Quote by edg

Jazz come from the
Blues .


No. The two genres are completly differant. You gave good advice, but this particular fact is wrong. Learning blues wont help you learn jazz
#11
Quote by slayer1516
No. The two genres are completly differant. You gave good advice, but this particular fact is wrong. Learning blues wont help you learn jazz


I agree that the two genres are completely different, but jazz actually has it's roots in blues music.
#12
Quote by slayer1516
No. The two genres are completly differant. You gave good advice, but this particular fact is wrong. Learning blues wont help you learn jazz


Jazz has its roots in blues. It's pretty much a fact. Given that, knowing blues can't
but help you to understand jazz better. It's a simpler form of music.

The #1 most commonly played jazz progressions? ... 12 bar Blues.
(#2 is "rhythm changes", "I got rhythm")
#13
Quote by edg
Jazz has its roots in blues. It's pretty much a fact. Given that, knowing blues can't
but help you to understand jazz better. It's a simpler form of music.

The #1 most commonly played jazz progressions? ... 12 bar Blues.
(#2 is "rhythm changes", "I got rhythm")



Listen to some Miles Davis, then some Willie Mctell. "Roots' doesn't mean much. Death metal has its roots in metal, which has its roots in blues. But are death metal and blues similar? Jazz has very differant harmonic structure than the blues. To play jazz, you need a thorough knowledge of scales and modes, as each chord in jazz has its own scale.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4FAKRpUCYY


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToxSQJrbHi8
#14
This kinda helped me with Vibrato and a bit of Improv stuff, so it might help you.

I was reading a lesson by Steve Vai and he said to just pick one note, and for an hour straight vibrato it as many different ways as you can. Eventually you run out of ways that you already know, so you have to come up with new ways to vibrato the note. You can never let your mind stray from that note.

The same Concept could work with improvising solos, get a Backing track if you want, and just Loop it and Jam over it for as long as you can. Eventually some interesting, and potentially awesome licks will start coming out. it will also let you feel the groove of the rythm after a while.

Hope that helps,
#15
Quote by Tubyboulin
This kinda helped me with Vibrato and a bit of Improv stuff, so it might help you.

I was reading a lesson by Steve Vai and he said to just pick one note, and for an hour straight vibrato it as many different ways as you can. Eventually you run out of ways that you already know, so you have to come up with new ways to vibrato the note. You can never let your mind stray from that note.

The same Concept could work with improvising solos, get a Backing track if you want, and just Loop it and Jam over it for as long as you can. Eventually some interesting, and potentially awesome licks will start coming out. it will also let you feel the groove of the rythm after a while.

Hope that helps,


i like the idea about finding new ways to vibrate a note, although, for one hour? xD
that's typical steve vai lol
#16
Quote by RCalisto
i like the idea about finding new ways to vibrate a note, although, for one hour? xD
that's typical steve vai lol


It wasnt the Funnest hour ive spent playing guitar Steve Vai is deffinitly a Bit extreme in his teachings. Worked though