Where To Start With Soloing

As most people who have been playing for a while will tell you, one of the most fundamental things to learn in improvisation is the blues. Coincidentally, which scale is one of the best to use when playing the blues, you gessued it, the Pentatonic.

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I thought it might be a good idea to post an article to help people get started on the road to (nearly) simple guitar improvisation. I've seen a lot of article telling people to start by learning major scales, but in my opinion there is an easier way to get started, Pentatonic scales. As most people who have been playing for a while will tell you, one of the most fundamental things to learn in improvisation is the blues. Coincidentally, which scale is one of the best to use when playing the blues, you gessued it, the Pentatonic. So, I'll give you a simple explanation. Pentatonics are based around the notes of the major scale, however, each Pentatonic scale contains only 5 notes, the 1st 2nd 3rd 5th and 6th notes of the major scale. Also, to make it even easier, we can take these notes and form them into a repeating pattern on the fretboard of your guitar, such a pattern is frequently called a "Scale Pattern." Here is the one for the Pentatonic Major Scale:
nut 
E | - | - | O | - | - | O | 
A | - | - | O | - | O | - | 
D | - | - | O | - | O | - | 
G | - | - | O | - | O | - | 
B | - | - | O | - | - | O | 
E | - | - | O | - | - | O |
So, the scale pattern above would be for the G Pentatonic Major. Now if you look closely you will notice that the low E string is fretted at the 3rd fret, which is a G. So, from this we can learn that if we move the same pattern up and down the neck, the scale we are playing in is the same as the first note fretted on the E string. For example, if I were to move the scale up so the first note on the low E string were an A (5th fret) then I would be playing A Pentatonic Major. So, all you have to do is practice learning where the notes are in the pattern, then you can start jamming along to your favourite songs, just move the same pattern up or down the fretboard until you are in the right key, and all the notes which you are playing will fit in perfectly with the song. One other thing to mention, as I said before, is that the Pentatonic scales arre best used for blues style songs. However, they are also used extensively in most types of modern rock music. So what are you waiting for, get jamming.

186 comments sorted by best / new / date

    *kill'emall*
    whoever wrote this got excited and wrote too fast... now we can't understand it potty_man : nicely worded... but im still no closer to understanding.. : (we're all thinking it: no it was not nicely worded)
    rocknboy08
    its alot easier when you have a guitar and play while you are reading the article. but they could have worded it better.
    Asthia
    The tab is upside down. You should probably have introduced all 5 forms of the pentatonic.
    westo
    Okay this is for all of the guys saying they can't get it. I've never had a teacher so if you'll yell at me or whatever i got all of this from this site anyways. So here it is: To find the key a song is in, i think you'll find it pretty much in the very first chord that is played (this varies). you can also try to figure it out by guess and check. The way you do that is to just move the big fatty thick E string up and down the fretboard until something sounds right. if it does, whatever note that is is probably the "key" of the whole song. This is the chromatic scale- it shows what every single fret is for every string and what not. this is on that big fatty thick E string that i said earlier: E played open is E E played on the first fret is F E played on the second fret is F#/Gb (you can call it either, they are called enharmonic notes- same pitch, different name) E played on the third fret is G E played on the fourth fret is G#/Ab (enharmonic) E played on the fifth fret is A sixth: A#/Bb (enharmonic) seventh: B eigth: C ninth: C#/Db (enharmonic) tenth: D eleventh: D#/Eb twelfth:E- this E is the octave of the other big fatty thick E... 12 frets higher. So as you're moving that big fatty thick E string up and down the fretboard to figure out the key, notice what notes you are hitting. Say it sounds good on fret 5, than the key of the song is "A", because the fifth fret on the big fatty thick E string is the note "A". Now you play the pentatonic scale starting at that note fretting it with your index finger. You continue with the scale, playing in beat with the song, and get creative. do some bends and pull offs and hammer ons and trills and whatever. make it sound good... if you think im wrong go ahead and tell me cuz i havent had a teacher yet or anything. i may have my mistakes.
    .Sidewinder.
    [CODE] e|--5-8---| B|--5-8---| G|--5-7-8-| D|--5-7---| A|--5 -6-7-| E|--5-8---| [/CODE] that should work.. never mind if it doesn't
    silentdud
    Of course you can make up s$%t as good as hammet and slash without knowing this crap, how do you think this all started in the first place. Look at Hendrix man. Your idea is exactly why all music nowadays sounds the same, cuz nothing is new anymore. YOu suck
    hendrix wrote in blues scales and he did actually know how to play guitar... sorry to bust you he wrote ALOT in minor blues...
    playing4_Christ
    so easy basic concept, but its so hard to understand for people that dont know it in your article. dude cmon sidwinder has it better
    Reggy
    First of many, straight out of a book, sorry, no flaming intended, just want everyone to know.
    sing4am
    If anyone can't figure this out, or hasn't figured it out on their own, then you really need to work on more basic stuff such as chords, pull offs, hammer ons, and getting creative with power chords first. And another good tip to soloing is don't do it by the book, instead just look up simple solos in tabs and work on those and see what sort of finger positions you need to make (you should use all your fingers or atleast the first three when soloing). And after months if you still can't figure it out maybe its time to put down the guitar and pick up the trumpet.
    whizz8kid
    you all most be stupid, this is the most simple lesson that are on www.ultimate-guitar.com
    escalation_666
    what?... someone doesn't understand this? =s! basically what he's saying, is that the pentatonic scale can be moved around to whichever key the song is in so to 'jam' along with it... for those of you who dont understand the diagram go put your guitar away and get to school :s.
    escalation_666
    and listen 'onetime' and the idiot below him, dont even try call music shit. scales have been working for years, and will continue working for years to come. millions of successful guitarists have used and based their entire discographies around scales. so if you think you're above them then you obviously need to think about where you are in the world. sitting at home unemployed learning stairway to heaven undoubtably. the majority of that song is based round scales too. idiot.
    Jbetter_thanu
    a fairly good lesson for beginners, i already knew this stuff, it is pretty sad if u cant understand i dont see any tips on SOLOING! this is supposed to be soloing, i know its good to start and practice with pentatonic scales but c'mon, lame job as far as soloing stuff. and it IS possible to write a good song that sounds good(with a LOT of trial and error) but knowing scales is the best way to go, but not just run scales as a solo, that takes no skill and/or creativity, but it should also be (gonna sound korny) heartfelt, and it should be something the WRITER is proud of and likes. also, SLASH rules, his solos on knonkin on heaven's door aren't filled with tons of incredibly fast notes and crazy effects, but is simple and (also gay sounding) "passionate" if u will. (not to say the fast hard awesome stuff isnt goood though, i like it)
    silentdud
    also theres a problem because he drew the diagram upside down simple mistake though
    JGuill
    Right, it is minor!! I think the best thing to do is to learn the fingerboard first. Once you know all the notes on the fingerboard, it will make it alot easier to solo over any chord progression, and you will also know that this scale is minor!!!
    n0e
    [quote=Onetime]Of course you can make up s$%t as good as hammet and slash without knowing this crap, how do you think this all started in the first place. Look at Hendrix man. Your idea is exactly why all music nowadays sounds the same, cuz nothing is new anymore. YOu suck[/quote] lmao jimi hendrix is like the master of scales dude, everything he does is based on scales... if you don't learn scales then you don't know what is in key (then you end up like green day ) however, don't get stuck in the box trap. don't learn the pattern of the scales, learn the notes in the scales. improvise all over the neck using the notes from your scales and don't stick to going up and down your scales all day.
    corybott
    anyone who doesnt get this is an idiot. he gave you the tab. start on the low e string play a note (open E for example), then play G (the 3rd fret). Now move up to the next string and play open A, followed by B (2nd fret). Keep moving up. you are all absolutely stupid.
    hillbilly13496
    people that dont understand that should just give up guitar playing, cuz it doesnt get any easier to understand than that!
    hillbilly13496
    les paul is the guitar people that dont understand that should just give up guitar playing, cuz it doesnt get any easier to understand than that!
    fingersofflame
    actually, i don't know what you guys are talking about, the lesson being hard to understand, i got most of it perfeectly...the diagram is pretty simple to understand as well...good job man!
    yetzkie29
    i dont play those..it sounds redundant..i play linear scale..wana learn?email me..yetzkie29@yahoo.com
    elliano
    hillbilly13496 wrote: people that dont understand that should just give up guitar playing, cuz it doesnt get any easier to understand than that!
    Amen to that!
    CptMorgan
    potty_man wrote: nicely worded... but im still no closer to understanding.. :
    Feel free to PM me man I'm here to help.
    jamesguitarrox
    this lesson has helped me out alot, yah it was kind of confusing but hey thats why you should keep trying im making my own solos and they sound pretty good they dont sound like the new music at all.
    guitargal10
    That was a horrible article..Need to know scales to write solos? Well no duh huh?
    philipp122
    Isn't that G pentatonic minor/A# pentatonic major? G pentatonic major 1st popsitions starts on open E.
    philipp122
    dcookie87 wrote: why is it that the G pentatonic major scale is different on http://www.theguitarfiles.com/scale.php to on here?... is that site wrong or am i just looking at it wrong?
    Yeah, I knew it. The scale up there is G pentatonic minor, which is the same thing as A# pentatonic major. The scale positions are the same for maj. pent. and min. pent., just moved down the fret board. For example, the A major pentatonic starts at the second fret and follows the same shape as A minor pentatonic which starts at the 5th fret. So no, you're not looking at it wrong. The lesson is wrong.