#1
Ok, I'm 19 1/2 years old and I've been playing for about... 9 months now. I started my guitar journey with a studious mindset, delving into whatever theory I could get my hands on. I think in the long run, this was good because I was able to overstep many obstacles that others encountered, and keep myself motivated because I never hit a spot where I felt that I actually was a total failure. I understand the concepts of scales and improvising, but theres something I DON'T understand.

It hit me when my dad's friend visited one day and started playing. He started bending a string, then hitting another note on a higher string, then sliding down a position or two and, well, I just suddenly realized that there's so much I don't understand. Up until then, I thought improvising was simply playing the notes in a scale in a random order. The WAY he moved his hands about seemed as if he was just hitting random spots on the fretboard. I asked him if he had memorized every note on the fretboard and thus knew where every in-key note was to hit, and he said no. This further made me realize that perhaps theory, while definitely helpful, is not completely necessary. I thought about how he played for a few days and came to the conclusion that perhaps improvising is not hitting random notes at all, but playing bits a pieces of riffs that you already knew (that fit in key) and combining them to create your improvisation. Am I accurate in this assumption? I've always been able to play notes and stay in a scale (somewhat blindly jumping to another note in the scale), but my solos sound terrible because it sounds like I'm playing scales, not music.

Another thing that confuses me in my guitar journey is, I think the term for it is legato . I am OK at hammer-ons and pull-offs... when it comes to one note at a time. My playing sounds very choppy because I tend pick every note (luckily I've overcome to barrier of alternate/economy picking). What I don't understand here is this: am I supposed to use legato in my playing EVEN when jumping to another string mid-"note chain"? If so, should I still pick the first note I play on a string, or should I still try to hammer it hard enough to make it ring without picking it? One riff comes to mind when I mention this. The main riff of "Layla" (not the intro, the higher pitched main verse), as I play it, transgresses the B and high E string around the 12th fret. This riff is strictly legato, but I find that the only way I can manage to make it sound good is to use a barre, and hammer/pulloff with my other fingers. I'm pretty sure this is a bad practice and would probably bite me in the butt if I tried to learn the rest of the song.

Thanks for all the help in advance. I try to search for other threads, but I can never find any advice that applies to my specific problems.
#2
guitar soloing is like a language. if knowing theory is knowing a language, then licks are like phrases and common expressions. whenever you hear a lick you like in a song, try to learn it, or at least something like it.

I've recently stated to try to solo more with arpeggios than strictly with scale shapes. If you can bring arpeggios that follow the backing chords in with scale soloing, it really helps the solo move with the music.

hopefully something i said helped.
#4
Quote by guerito
guitar soloing is like a language. if knowing theory is knowing a language, then licks are like phrases and common expressions. whenever you hear a lick you like in a song, try to learn it, or at least something like it.

I've recently stated to try to solo more with arpeggios than strictly with scale shapes. If you can bring arpeggios that follow the backing chords in with scale soloing, it really helps the solo move with the music.

hopefully something i said helped.


Would you also say that learning more than one shape for a scale is a necessity?

Also, to play arpeggios, I would have to know the notes in the chord, AND where each note is on the fretboard, would I not? Or am I missing something?
#5
Ideally, you should know the shapes for a scale all up the neck. If you don't know what modes are, it might be a good time to learn them. Mode shapes are great for soloing.

For arpeggios, you have to know basic chord theory, yes. But you don't neccessarily need to know that a Bb minor arpeggio is composed of the notes Bb, Db, and E. What is important is that you know arpeggio shapes not only up and down strings but also across them.
#6
you can play any fret on the board and if it ain't right, the next note is.

I suggest learning a bunch of licks. http://www.myguitarsolo.com/Licks/Licks.htm

Just fire up your favorite cd and have at it. You really don't need to know what key its in. If your lick doesn't sound right just keep sliding it up the neck until you're playing in key.
#7
So basically what you guys are saying is that when Slash busts out an improvised solo, its actually just an amalgam of all the licks he's ever played and all the years of experience he's had to mess with them; rather than him just hitting a note, then jumping to another note that he "feels" will sound good, then jumping to the next, and so on?
#8
You gotta suck before your good...

Read this, it's something I've pretty much spammed it throughout MT
----------------------

I think you should take it back a step. If I said you were playing major/minor scales (instead of pentatonics) would I be right? Well take a step back and start playing the simple pentatonic scales.

Once you've learnt a few shapes (2 or 3 is fine) of the pentatonic scale, you probably should try to focus on what you feel is the right next note and play REALLY slow. Try to listen to some of those slow expressive blues solo's to get what I mean. Whilst doing this, try to become proficient at moving around the fretboard and between shapes. Aim to be able to slide between 3 or 4 notes on the same string.
Copying a singers phrasing and rhthym is generally a good idea to when learning how to improvise. And I dont mean metal singers/screamers, who sing really fast. Copy something slow. This is how people started writing those slow blues solo's.

Doing this will get your phrasing (by copying those singers) and your technique (by moving between shapes) ready for doing some real solo's (as in, stuff that sounds good).

Than after you've got all that down and when you're good enough to say that you personally enjoy what you're playing (it took me a couple of years to enjoy my pentatonic wankery), you'll be ready to move on. Than study the major scale, the intervals behind it, the way these intervals create harmonic/melodic consonance and dissonance and watch melodic control by marty friedman. Pretty much look for and study as much theory as you can eat. And analyse solo's, ask yourself, why do they sound good?
At this stage you should start realising that the same note can sound better or worse over different chords and some notes sound better or worse when followed (or preceeded) by some notes. Exploiting this will enable you to control what you're solo's are going to feel like, instead of blindly looking for the right note.
#9
Quote by demonofthenight
You gotta suck before your good...

Read this, it's something I've pretty much spammed it throughout MT
----------------------

I think you should take it back a step. If I said you were playing major/minor scales (instead of pentatonics) would I be right? Well take a step back and start playing the simple pentatonic scales.

Once you've learnt a few shapes (2 or 3 is fine) of the pentatonic scale, you probably should try to focus on what you feel is the right next note and play REALLY slow. Try to listen to some of those slow expressive blues solo's to get what I mean. Whilst doing this, try to become proficient at moving around the fretboard and between shapes. Aim to be able to slide between 3 or 4 notes on the same string.
Copying a singers phrasing and rhthym is generally a good idea to when learning how to improvise. And I dont mean metal singers/screamers, who sing really fast. Copy something slow. This is how people started writing those slow blues solo's.

Doing this will get your phrasing (by copying those singers) and your technique (by moving between shapes) ready for doing some real solo's (as in, stuff that sounds good).

Than after you've got all that down and when you're good enough to say that you personally enjoy what you're playing (it took me a couple of years to enjoy my pentatonic wankery), you'll be ready to move on. Than study the major scale, the intervals behind it, the way these intervals create harmonic/melodic consonance and dissonance and watch melodic control by marty friedman. Pretty much look for and study as much theory as you can eat. And analyse solo's, ask yourself, why do they sound good?
At this stage you should start realising that the same note can sound better or worse over different chords and some notes sound better or worse when followed (or preceeded) by some notes. Exploiting this will enable you to control what you're solo's are going to feel like, instead of blindly looking for the right note.



So what you're saying is the secret to playing scales good is to learn to play it all the way around the neck rather than in a box shape?
#10
To be able to make a decent solo, all the positions must be memorized. Then, you need to take the picture in your head of the scale and remove all the outlines so all you see in your head are just notes. That way, when you solo you dont stick to one box, then move to another. You just think of it as a whole scale.
#11
learn scales how you like. However, to create good solos, you have to realise, the guitar is un-restrictive. You can play whatever you want and scales are a guide.

Try to think of scales not as patterns, but individual notes connected together.
If you play the C Major scale, and you start with C, there isnt just one C note on the fretboard, theres loads, and you can use any of them, in any order.
Been away, am back
#12
Quote by Sample246
So what you're saying is the secret to playing scales good is to learn to play it all the way around the neck rather than in a box shape?

Playing scales doesn't matter, understanding and knowing how to use them does.

The secret to being a good guitarist is to be able to hear a sound in your head and reproduce it on the guitar. There's various ways to go about it, but the study of established music theory is arguable the most straightforward, efficient and painless way of getting there.
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

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


stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
#13
I suppose it'll all come in time then? I dunno, I just sometimes get this dreadful feeling in my stomach that I'll never be able to improvise like some of those maniacs on youtube. I can play in key, but it just sounds lame, and I don't feel like I'm progressing. I assume this is a normal feeling and I WILL progress?
#14
Hey man I can relate, I'm 18 (be 19 in a month), I've been playing almost a year now and within the first few months I learned music theory and scales. I think the best thing you can do is learn the notes all over the neck and keep improvising even if you think it doesn't sound great. You'll get better at it with experience.
Originally Posted by SkyValley
yeah im a virgin but im also pretty good at things like ping-pong and drawing pictures of people playing water polo so it balances out
#15
ok i have to say this and i know i will be flammed

Improv. is not in the theory, all i know is the pentatonic aka the easiest scale ever and i improv. quite often

the trick is to play your guitar until warmed up and you lossen a bit up, then you just let go and play whatever u feel will fit whatever licks or just a bluesy solo, just let it come out

ive been playing metal for about a year and a half and this is how i learned to solo for my band i am currently in
Guitar- ESP LTD Kh 602
ESP LTD Ex-50

Amp- Randall rx75r
Vox AD30VT

Equipment- Dime Crybaby From Hell
Korg PX4D Pandora

Drums- groove percussion set with zht cymbals and remo heads
#17
It'll come in time if you keep practicing. Its much more crucial to learn your way around the fretboard than to memorize shapes. I agree with whoever said to mimic vocals.
#18
Ok thanks guys. I guess you always need a kick in the butt telling you "you may suck now but don't give up you wuss" every know and then to keep you going. I guess I get to learning the scale all the way around the fretboard now, because up until now, I was under the impression that I could do just fine with the box shape (and first and last strings for higher and lower than box allows). But maybe this will open up the world some for me.
#19
Just practice a shape 30 mins a day to get a whole scale down. start at fret one and get that shape down. Once you get that. move down to the 2nd shape and start combining those two shapes. When your ready move on. And once at 12th fret it gets real easy because its just a repeat of the same notes/shapes.
Thats how I learnt my first scale.

Staying in one box makes it sound like you playing a scale IMO. Be creative.
#20
Quote by Sample246
So basically what you guys are saying is that when Slash busts out an improvised solo, its actually just an amalgam of all the licks he's ever played and all the years of experience he's had to mess with them; rather than him just hitting a note, then jumping to another note that he "feels" will sound good, then jumping to the next, and so on?


Improvisation is all about "feel". That's why it's called improvisation: it's what your feeling at that moment expressed through the song. It's how and why B.B.King makes his guitar sing. It's why Steve Vai cries while playing "Whispering a Prayer".

There's only so far that theory will take you. Before I could improvise a blues scale that sounded even half-way decent I practiced improvising sh*tty blues solos for 2 hours a day, every day, for damn close to 6 months. Eventually your hands and mind will get used to knowing what notes can come next, and you'll develop more and more advanced techniques till you're playing just like your dad's friend. Just practice, practice, practice.

And I just realized that that first mini-paragraph rhymed. Awesome!
#21
a good way to get better at improvising is to try and learn different guitarists licks and solos by ear... it shouldnt be to difficult since you already know a few scales. many classic rock and blues solos only use the first and second box of the minor pentatonic.
"I wanna see movies of my dreams"
#22
Quote by pensiveintensiv
Improvisation is all about "feel". That's why it's called improvisation: it's what your feeling at that moment expressed through the song. It's how and why B.B.King makes his guitar sing. It's why Steve Vai cries while playing "Whispering a Prayer".

There's only so far that theory will take you. Before I could improvise a blues scale that sounded even half-way decent I practiced improvising sh*tty blues solos for 2 hours a day, every day, for damn close to 6 months. Eventually your hands and mind will get used to knowing what notes can come next, and you'll develop more and more advanced techniques till you're playing just like your dad's friend. Just practice, practice, practice.

And I just realized that that first mini-paragraph rhymed. Awesome!

I couldn't say it better myself. A brilliant post. +1.
Fender USA Telecaster
Laney VC30-210
Vox Wah
That's it :|