1, 3 and 5 is the formula for a major triad. If you were to only soloing using those three notes, you would be playing an arpeggio of the root chord. And that would just be boring!
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It's a good idea to use chord tones when soloing; that is the root, third and fifth of the chord you are playing over.

So if a chord progression was C#m A E G#
Over the C#m target the notes C# E G#
Over A target A C# E
Over E target E G# B
Over G# target G# B# D#
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well, 1 implies an octave, 5ths are extremely consonant and therefore safe to use, and 3rds sound interesting and harmonise nicely. It depends on what you mean really. If you, for example, move up or down the fretboard using paired notes that are a 3rd apart then it's a really good way to move around the neck without sounding boring.

In E minor, for example, if you want to play with thirds you could look at these notes...


If you look at a full fretboard diagram of the E minor scale you'll see that they're all the notes on the D and G strings. They're also the middle two notes of all the chords of the E minor progression, assuming you were playing full 6 string barre chords...they're actually the root (well, technically the octave of the root) and third of each chord in the progression. Each note on the G string is two notes further along in the E minor scale than its counterpart on the D string.

You'll notice they're great fun to muck around with...play them individually or as double stops, or for a simple but effective shred-sounding lick slide between the notes on the G string but pick the notes on the D...sounds a bit Vai-ish if you do it quickly, like this.


5ths aren't as harmonically interesting for stuff like that but they're still useable, the 5th is a constant interval whereas the shift between minor and major thirds is what makes them sound so pleasing. however 5ths are perhaps more useful as a reference note within the scale, for example the 5th is a good place to start a run from if you find yourself stuck inthe rut of starting from the root all the time.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Aug 1, 2008,