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#1
Hey... I've been playing guitar for a few years and I was just wondering if anyone has any advice that could help point me in the right direction to start feeling more creative and start playing more fitting/song specific solos and riffs. Lately I've found that I'm just stuck playing up and down the pentatonic scale and not really accomplishing anything and I need something to help get me goin again. Any suggestions on theory or anything to look into next? Any general tips on feeling inspired again? Thanks for any help!
#3
Quote by Anthony1991
Dump theory and go for feeling


Never dump theory! What he needs is more creativity and dumping theory won't help. What I'd recommend is to try switching around between different scales that will still fit within the rhythm section.
#5
Just experiment with any note. Hang on to notes and see how they sound with the chords they go well with and figure out what works and what doesn't. Try using themes from the song you are in and alter them slightly and try working off those notes for new ideas and see how they sound.
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#6
This'll take time so don't expect this overnight. A lot of guitar players go through this and it's extremely normal.
You need to know scales back to front. It's no good being able to go up and down as many different scales as you can if you don't know how to work them. Obviously, you started with the pentatonic so you've practised improvising and writing riffs with the pentatonic scale because you didn't know any other.
You need to become as familiar with the other scales as you are with the pentatonic. Create patterns with different scales and remember all the notes.

Remember it won't happen overnight.

Just try to block the pentatonic out of your head.

You should look at some virtuoso guitarists because they play with soul but practised so much that they could just pick a note and play around it.

Check out Bucketheads solo stuff (acoustic, and electric) because he's so powerful with the guitar because he knows every note just like that. Knowledge is power remember!

Satriani is also good for this.
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#7
this is a great thread topic, I've been playing for 5 years and up until last year I was really able to start escaping the monotony of the pentatonic bluesy scales. I still feel like I'm a little trapped though.

I play a lot of metal and when I write my own stuff I still find myself writing in pentatonic while throwing in the occasional diminished notes within a riff but it never feels quite fresh enough, like I'm missing something. The only way I learn new scales is when I learn a song that has one I've never heard.

If anyone has tabs for any scales other than pentatonic posting them would be awesome.
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#9
I agree that I probably shouldn't dump theory, but lately I've been listening to and reading up on Victor Wooten and I'm starting to realize I've been focusing too much on theory. He's right that pretty much everything, theory, equipment, etc. is secondary to feeling and having something you want to say with your music. So I've been trying to put more feeling into it but I've been finding that I don't know how to say what I want to with my music.
#10
ya i have the same problem

guitar pro/power tab/ written tab postin is much appreciated
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#11
You should do the following:
1. Learn as many scales in one key (you say ur stuck in pentatonic so if you are stuck in pentatonic E learn scales like E minor and major and all the modes)

2. Listen to other music. If u like heavy metal listen to classic rock or blues. You might not like it but most guitar licks are based off or variations of blues.

3. Just mess around. Forget scales and crap and take a break from it and just mess around for a few days.

4. Work on your technique. You would be amazed if you took a break from scales and theory type stuff and instead work on hammer ons, pull offs, alternate picking stuff like that and go back to scales. They will be easier and new doors will be opened.

I know what u r going through too. When I first started it pentatonic minor 24/7. I would suggest listening to Joe Satriani for musical inspiration he incorporates almost every scale in every key throught his music. Also listen to Carlos Santana he shows how if you play with emotion and not just speed your music will sound great.
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#12
LSGoCards7... That sounds like some pretty good advice... I am already pretty comfortable with major/minor, but the pentatonics just too damn easy too use... Any advice on how to use the scale more appropriately? Tips on switching scales throughout the solo to feed off the sounds of the chords more?

I've also been looking into modes a bit, but I always find it really hard to get the specific sounds of each moded to come through in my playing. Does anyone have any advice to help on that?
#13
Quote by HeavenlyVirus
learn some songs from outside the rock genre.


i 100% agree. i noticed a huge jump in my ability, style, and overall enjoyment once i started learning blues, jazz, funk and whatnot. you take what you learn from it, and reapply it to how you wana sound. my end result was a sound im falling in love with. you learn different styles of phrasing, different scales and chords, odd changes and wierd rhythms and stum patterens that i honestly never would have thought of if i only learned 4/4 standard powerchord type songs. even learning metal if you like alt rock or vise versa helps just to broaden your mind to let you maybe slow down a metal progression, or maybe double time a indie rock part. its not like theres completly different sets of notes for different genres, just different ways of playing them
#14
Please ignore the many stupid comments in this thread (not everyone).

All theory comes from learning the basics about intervals and the major scale. If you plan to learn any new scales and know how to use them, please read the "theory" link in my sig.

Edit: Learning modes before the theory behind the major scale is stupid and foolish, and leads to a highly flawed understanding knowledge of said modes.
#15
When your using a mode make sure ur putting empahasis and ending on the root note. So if you're soloing in the key of A and let's say ur usind A Dorian (blues -rockish) make sure you put emphasis on the A and make sure you end on the A. If you also want to get a great bend out of it bend up a whole step to the root note (the A in this case) if you do that it will make that A stand out and that's what you are trying to do when using a mode is put emphasis on the root otherwise it dosn't really do a lot.

If you are trying to shift between pentatonic find common notes between both and maybe asscend up to the common note and descend dow using another scale. Also to speed things up find a pentatonic lick like this lick in E:
p p p p
--15--12--15--12------ then move up to the --17--14--17--14------
----------------------12-- E minor position ----------------------14--
--------------------------- ---------------------------
--------------------------- ---------------------------
--------------------------- ---------------------------
--------------------------- ---------------------------

This is a great transition lick between E pentatonic minor and E minor. (If this lick dosn't come out right you pick 15 then pull off to 12 (both on higher sounding E) twice and after the 2nd time you pick 12 on the B string then do the same thing but use 17 and 14).
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Last edited by LSGoCards7 at Jul 1, 2008,
#17
I was talking about the E minor scale not in the key of E minor and when ur using a mode you focus on the key of a song if you didn't you could play anything you want anywhere you want. Plus I don't c u givin any great advise.
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#18
Quote by sue
That post is incorrect. Modal music is separate from key-based music
What did he write that's incorrect?

why are you playing G#s in the key of Em?
Blues?
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Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#19
Let me make one thing clear. Learning your theory will NOT take the 'feeling' away from your music. All it is used to do is to explain why something sounds and works the way it does.

Start learning theory with the major scale, because all other scales are written in relation to it. Once you have learned that, move on to more advanced things like intervals, chords, etc. Do not move on to modes for a while, stick with learning your fundamentals first.

Also, practice advancing your technique. A solid alternate picking technique is a must. And don't be dissin' on the pentatonic scale! It's much more versatile than you are giving it credit for. However, I'm probably just assuming here, but I'm going to say that you are using the minor pentatonic scale exclusively. Branch out into the pentatonic major, and it will yield some impressive and unexpected results.
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#20
Quote by Toker420
I suggest smoking a green cigarette, they always help me get creative.

A menthol?
WHOMP

Think of that next time you are not allowed to laugh.
#21
Quote by LSGoCards7
I was talking about the E minor scale not in the key of E minor and when ur using a mode you focus on the key of a song if you didn't you could play anything you want anywhere you want.
I'm not sure what you just said.

Quote by LSGoCards7
Plus I don't c u givin any great advise.
Please look around this thread and the rest of the forum.

Quote by Ænimus Prime
What did he write that's incorrect?
About landing on the A note when you play in A Dorian.

Blues?
He changed it, so no.

Quote by Iron_Dude
Let me make one thing clear. Learning your theory will NOT take the 'feeling' away from your music. All it is used to do is to explain why something sounds and works the way it does.

Start learning theory with the major scale, because all other scales are written in relation to it. Once you have learned that, move on to more advanced things like intervals, chords, etc. Do not move on to modes for a while, stick with learning your fundamentals first.

Also, practice advancing your technique. A solid alternate picking technique is a must. And don't be dissin' on the pentatonic scale! It's much more versatile than you are giving it credit for. However, I'm probably just assuming here, but I'm going to say that you are using the minor pentatonic scale exclusively. Branch out into the pentatonic major, and it will yield some impressive and unexpected results.
Good stuff.
#22
Quote by sue
About landing on the A note when you play in A Dorian
So not his whole post then. And why is that incorrect? It seems like a valid way to play A dorian to me.
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#23
Quote by LSGoCards7
I was talking about the E minor scale not in the key of E minor and when ur using a mode you focus on the key of a song if you didn't you could play anything you want anywhere you want. Plus I don't c u givin any great advise.

How is the E minor scale not in the key on E minor?

I advise you to learn the major scale inside and out then take a look at modes.

When you have an understanding of the major scale take a look at these videos (this is part 1) and try what he does.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K-DbaaI4wc
#25
Quote by sue
Prime, this statement is wrong.
So you're not meant to emphasise A in A dorian?
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#27
In your lead, you certainly don't have to.
But you can if you want, and it's a good strong note to land on.
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#28
Quote by Ænimus Prime
But you can if you want, and it's a good strong note to land on.
There's a HUGE difference between "this often sounds good," and "this is what you have to do," though.
#29
Quote by sue
There's a HUGE difference between "this often sounds good," and "this is what you have to do," though.
So your issue is with his use of the words 'make sure'. Apart from that his post was good.
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#30
Quote by LSGoCards7
Plus I don't c u givin any great advise.


are you kidding ???? She's the most helpful and intelligent person here. Just ask her! Even her sig says so!


Quote by Ænimus Prime
So your issue is with his use of the words 'make sure'. Apart from that his post was good.


the only thing wrong with what he was saying was that if you use a mode you need to emphasize the root. Thats not really the case. You can emphasize it, but you could emphasize alot of other things as well. Also, that misconception has nothing to do with the difference between "modal" music and "key based" music as implied in the following post.

Quote by nwj
Hey... I've been playing guitar for a few years and I was just wondering if anyone has any advice that could help point me in the right direction to start feeling more creative and start playing more fitting/song specific solos and riffs. Lately I've found that I'm just stuck playing up and down the pentatonic scale and not really accomplishing anything and I need something to help get me goin again. Any suggestions on theory or anything to look into next? Any general tips on feeling inspired again? Thanks for any help!


TS.....

try learning some new scales ( how about Major and minor)

try learning some solos.


Those alone will give you plenty to work with.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jul 1, 2008,
#31
Quote by GuitarMunky
She's the most helpful and intelligent person here.
Thank you. Sadly, I have no room left in my sig.

Quote by GuitarMunky
the only thing wrong with what he was saying was that if you use a mode you need to emphasize the root.
Well you do, just not in your lead. The fifth is a nice note to land on in your lead, it's not just the root.
#32
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Thank you. Sadly, I have no room left in my sig.

Well you do, just not in your lead. The fifth is a nice note to land on in your lead, it's not just the root.


no you dont.... you never have to emphasize the root.
shred is gaudy music
#33
Quote by GuitarMunky
you never have to emphasize the root.
How would you write a D Dorian progression without emphasizing the D note?

If you have an answer to this I'd like to hear it.


Pithy Quip Edit: And you don't have to play the guitar either.
#34
Quote by bangoodcharlote
How would you write a D Dorian progression without emphasizing the D note?

If you have an answer to this I'd like to hear it.


Pithy Quip Edit: And you don't have to play the guitar either.


were talking the scale.... not a chord progression.

for a chord progression though, D just has to be the tonal center. you dont have to "emphasize it".
shred is gaudy music
#35
Hmm...this thread needs some help.
Quote by Anthony1991
Dump theory and go for feeling

This is so ridiculous that it only deserves this response: everybody, just ignore this guy.
Quote by LSGoCards7
I was talking about the E minor scale not in the key of E minor and when ur using a mode you focus on the key of a song if you didn't you could play anything you want anywhere you want. Plus I don't c u givin any great advise.

No, not at all. You shouldn't really have brought modes into this, as it's not easy to jump straight into modes without a very solid understanding of diatonic harmony. When you're using a mode, you don't focus on "the key of a song", otherwise you'd just be using that key. You focus on the harmonic makeup and unique intervals of the mode and how to AVOID getting back to the key. Modal music is nothing like key-based music, and you need to go back and revisit modal theory so that you understand this. Also, she's very well-respected and knowledgeable, and even if she had never offered advice in any thread, your post wouldn't be any more intelligent for it.

Anyway, TS: while I certainly recommend learning the major scale as well as you can, you can't have the mindset that you're "stuck in the pentatonic". It's the most commonly used scale in rock and various other genres for a reason; it sounds very good, as it's comprised of only the most consonant notes of whatever key you're working in. All you have to do is get creative with your use of the pentatonics, and you'll be soloing better in no time. I'll link you to a thread where I made a large post about this topic, see if you find it helpful.

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=855723
Last edited by :-D at Jul 1, 2008,
#36
Get a complete understanding of the major scale. Get an understanding for all of the intrevals such. then move on to modes and the like. Tabs will not really help you in this instance. Learn the notes up and down the neck so that you're not just stuck playing the scales in a "box" pattern.

Edit: Also learn some new techniques that you could use to help with the soloing (alternate picking was metioned, harmonics maybe, double stops, tapping) It's not just about the notes you play, it's what you can do with the notes that really make you stand out during a solo.
"Forget the rules. If it sounds good, it is good."
-Eddie Van Halen
Last edited by Skully12 at Jul 1, 2008,
#37
yikes this seems to be degenerating into a debate about semantics.

One thing I think can be agreed on by anyone who truly understands the value of music theory is that putting in the effort to learn and understand it will set you free more than it will ever hold you back. It gives you an intellectual understand about what is happening in the music you hear. It never diminishes the feeling of music. It can, however, give you tools to help you get those sounds from deep in your soul out into the world.

As to opening up a scale to new possibilities I have three suggestions and one demand.

1st path to freedom - Major Scale Mastery
Learn the major scale in as many positions as possible.
Then learn your diatonic intervals in each pattern. A good place to start could be with diatonic thirds. Practice up and down your scales in diatonic thirds will open the scale up in new ways, as well as drill the patterns further into your mind and get your fingers moving in ways other than just climbing up and down a scale in the usual manner scales are practiced.
E.G. Climbing scale pattern by diatonic thirds in key of C

|------------------|-------------------|-----------------7-|---8-7-10-8----7---|
|------------------|-------------------|-------8----10-8---|10----------10---8-|
|------------------|------------7----9-|7-10-9---10--------|-------------------|
|----------------7-|---9-7-10-9---10---|-------------------|-------------------|
|--7----8-7-10-8---|10-----------------|-------------------|-------------------|
|8---10------------|-------------------|-------------------|-------------------|

|--------------------|-------------------|-------------------|-------|
|10----8-------------|-------------------|-------------------|-------|
|---10---9-10-7-9----|7------------------|-------------------|-------|
|-----------------10-|---9-10-7-9----7---|-------------------|-------|
|--------------------|------------10---8-|10-7-8----7--------|-------|
|--------------------|-------------------|-------10---8-10-7-|8------|


You should go on to do this with all the patterns. Then go on to the other intervals - fifths are a very powerful interval so they would be next. Then do the same with all your other intervals. Don't just play them either get to the point where you can play them with your eyes closed and listen to the tones. name them out loud and sing them -out loud. It will help your ear grow and a having a good ear is perhaps more important than any theory or technique you could ever learn.

Yeah I know it's a lot but aim to do it as part of your practice routine over a long period of time. However you should see improvements in your improvising fairly quickly.

2nd road to freedom - Fresh Ideas Start with a simple chord progression and write a melody line to it on paper. Not in tab but in standard notation. Here's one way you might go about this.

-Start with the blank sheet and your chord progression.

-Put dots to indicate the notes that are present in each chord along the progression.

-Then think about what kind of contour you want and draw a some lines on the paper in pencil. Keep them simple maybe its an arch or ramp or a dip or a tick.

-Then find the dots that will best represent the contour you have drawn and fill them in keep in mind where your strong beats are.

-Finally flesh out your melody with some non chord tones in order to make it smoother to the ear. Try to keep the non chord tones diatonic as much as possible and avoid too many big leaps.

Transfer the final product into tab format if you prefer and try playing it. It may take you a while to learn the melody you've just written if you've got software to assist you - even better but start with paper and a pencil.

This kind of exercise should get you to think about scales in new ways and not just a shape on your fretboard but as a means of communicating musical ideas. Practicing with new ideas from paper and your own hand is fun and a very different experience than practicing songs written by other people.

3rd path to freedom - mix things up It's been said learn different styles. Absolutely even just different rhythms to start with.

If you have some software or a drum machine and can programme rhythms to play along to this can be very helpful. Learn some rhythyms other than the standard rock rhythyms like some country, folk, soul, funk, reggae, spanish or latin rhythyms.
Take some licks you know and play them to different rhythms. Play your scales and intervals to different rhythyms. Try to play along with a metronome or drum machine (you should do this all the time) to keep your timing locked in.

Finally my one demand constantly work on improving your ear.

These are three ideas that can help you bust out of that rut you might find yourself in and open up new possibilities.

I sure can talk a lot and am not sure anyone ever bothers to read my posts because they can be lengthy, but it's just cause I'm so damn passionate about music. I hope someone somewhere gets something out of this.

Cheers.
Si
#38
T/S, please ignore the idiots arguing. They do that around here.

Pentatonics are essential to learn how to improvise. It's the first step any guitarist, any musician in that matter, needs to take. If you cant improvise with the pentatonics and say you like what you here, your not ready to move on. It took me years to like what I heard (and I sometimes still dont like it).
Also, please ignore anyone suggesting modes or major scales. Your not ready for them, although you will be one day.

And read this repost of mine:

----------------------
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.
----------------------
I'm also still waiting for an MT regulars suggestions to improve it
#40
Quote by :-D
^To say he's not ready for major scales is just ridiculous.
Okay, the major scale is great for writing, but its a little more complex when you use it for improvising. There is no melodical or harmonical way you can sound bad using pentatonics. It all has to do with your phrasing, which beginners will develop using the pentatonics.
You got to do something simple, like pentatonics, before you can do something like the major scale.
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