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Help on developing riffs/lead and right hand techniques

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 Nuke
(@nuke)
Active Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

Hi chaps!

This is a great site! I admit to 'lurking' around for a while, however! :P , but couldn't resist not joining for much longer!!

I am a beginning guitar player (possibly a late starter at 47 years old, although I tinkered with guitars in my youth!), and have been playing (practicing?) for a couple of months. In that relatively short time I've managed to achieve the following:-

1. Clean fretting/strumming/changing of A, C, D, E, G, Em, Am, Dm open chords; also E, A, C, Em, Am form barre chords. I am getting there with D (anybody have problems with the co-ordination/speed of pinky & ring fingers with this chord? - does anybody actually use it??!) and Dm form barre chords, and the G form is requiring substantial persistence!!
2. I've pretty much memorized the Pentatonic scale, insofar as I can play up and down the fretboard in all the connecting patterns in different keys; yesterday's attempt to incorporate the 'blue notes' into the scale, however, is almost like learning a brand new scale!
3. Learnt the Major scale, although not as proficient at moving up and down the fretboard just yet.
4. Learnt the C-A-G-E-D system (albeit still require some work on form).

All in all, I think it's reasonable progress in just about 60 days and I'm quite happy.

I have a couple of questions if somebody would be so kind as to help out:-

i. Does anybody have any recommendations for playing/utilizing scales so as to get that 'real' lead guitar feel - ie, so that scales doesn't sound so 'scale-y'..... still want to be a rock god at my age!! :lol:

ii. Anybody have any suggestions to develop right hand rhythm techniques? (while some may scoff, I always kinda liked Keith Richards as a rhythm player; I also admit to having more than a little liking for funky guitar playing :P ).

Any recommendations for books/DVD's or other instructional methods to achieve the above would be most welcome.

Thanks in advance...........and once again: GREAT SITE!!


   
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 lars
(@lars)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1120
 

Welcome! never too late to start - remember, you have decades of playing ahead of you!
Seems you have made considerable progress

A few things from a pure amateur
- don't worry about the D,dm, G or C for that matter barre chords - you rarely need them. If you can do them - fine
- two ways I can think of to descalify scales:
1. The good way: Remember good lead parts, solos etc. are meant to be musical. The problems with many of us guitarists is that we tend to be caught up in scale patterns instead of thinking music. Sing the part you want to play and then play - regardless of which scale it is in. Try to think melodies and phrases. Obviously, patterns of scales is extremely helpful on the fly so to speak, but good tunes are not made up from scales.
2. The cheater way: Deconstruct all the good lead guitar parts you can think of. Play it and try to understand what they do. The pay off is double: You can learn a lot of technique and get some good techniuque practice time and you can learn small patterns / elements that you can use in your own soloing later on.

This is from the top of my head - others may well disagree.

Then again - after 60 days of playing you shouldn't rush it. I've been playing for 20 years on and off and I have a LONG way to go still before I woud consider myself a good player (not to put you off - I'm just plain terrible at practicing I guess) . Time is on our side. Keep playing scales, keep you fingers moving - remember to have fun.

see you around1

lars

...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg http://www.facebook.com/sangerersomfolk


   
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(@georgejw22)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 40
 

Howdy and welcome Nuke,

I too was a lurker and have just resently started jumping on things around this forum so I hope to hear from you more.

The only thing I'm going to answer is the question about any recommendations for playing/utilizing scales so as to get that 'real' lead guitar feel.

I was stuck in the scale boxes for quite a while. I'm not sure if that is where you are or not. Performing a scale across box one and then box two and so on. It wasn't until I started working on scales horizontally per say that they started sounding more like riffs and actual leads. When I say horizontal I mean look at your high E string and try to visualize where the E Pentatonic falls on just that string all the way to at least the 12 fret, farther if you have the room. Then look at the B string and try to see where you can jump on the E Pentatonic on the B string from where you are on the High E String. So on and so forth, catch my drift. When you start doing this the boxes start to disappear and the pattern can be seen across the whole fretboard more easily. I'm at a point where I am trying to know the actual notes of the E Pentatonic and be able to visualize that so I can get rid of the patterns all together.

Hope this helps.

All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff. ~ Frank Zappa
I've got blisters on my fingers. ~Ringo Starr
Music is spiritual. The music business is not. ~ Van Morrison


   
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 Nuke
(@nuke)
Active Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

Thanks for the replies, guys.

Very useful, thank you both.


   
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(@kingpatzer)
Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2171
 

The biggest thing in scales is really learning them -- not as a memorized run of fingers, but as notes and tones that are musically realted to each other.

If you put your finger down on the fretboard, do you know what tone that is? Can you name all the notes that name that tone (if you're on the 5th fret of the 3rd string, do you know that that is a C, a B#, and a Dbb?) Do you know how those notes relate to the key important scales (major; natural, melod and harmonic minor; pentatonic; diminished; augmented?) Can you take one note name for that tone (say C) and list all of the scales you know that it is a part of? Can you name the role it plays in those scales (root, 3rd, 5th, 6th, etc.)

Scales are the building blocks of western music, and understanding them both in terms of the individual scales and how they relate to the instrument and how the scale relates to itself internally (this note is B, it is the 7th of the C major scale, the next note in the patter is C, it is the root of that same scale, etc.) but also how they relate to other scales (this note is C, it is also part of the Eb, Gb, A, and C diminished scales).

To get to this point you really need to study your scales intentionally. The "pattern" is the very lowest, and least useful, level of scale knowledge!

As you develop a certain alacrity with your scales, you'll find that you can discover great musical ideas as you utilize them. For example, maybe you're soloing with the C major scale, and you have a pattern you really like melodically (say 5-3-2-6-5-1) you can slide into an A pentatonic scale, and then into an A diminished scale, adn back to C major using that same basic pattern, and your solo will take on greater color and depth.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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(@dagwood)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1024
 

Nuke,

Welcome to GN. Yeah this place ROCKS!!

I don't know what part of the world you live, but I'd reckon your NOT out in the boonies/sticks/tundra or outback.
With that, I'd suggest, if you don't already, go and check out your local music scene.

Visit your local music stores and ask if they know what/who's playing locally. Find out when and where there are open mics and if you can swing it, go!! Not so much to play, at this early stage, but to "Watch" and learn.

It seems to me that you know a lot about the "How" and not a lot about the "What", "Why" or the "When"

What I mean is, by watching guys play songs you'll be able to connect more dots than ever before. You'll see them apply things that you've learned to each song, or section of a song and as a bonus, you'll be 'hanging' with other musicians. :)

If going out to a bar/lounge is out of the question, perhaps shopping for some DVD's of your favorite bands and watching them at home. You can learn alot by watching folks play.

Have fun.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. - Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977)


   
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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

And unless I missed it above, this always gets forgotten: Phrasing and Dynamics. A linear scale or even just three notes can be interesting and engaging if a player uses effective phrasing and dynamics. Unfortunately, beginners learn to practice scales as all quarter or 8th notes with few or no accents. This is good for learning control and timing. But outside of practice theyoften continue to play in the same manner when trying to improvise. This proves pretty boring as music. The same accusation is often leveled at shredders, except they are in the 32nd and 64th note realm (at 120 bpm!). You will often hear others complain of "sterile" playing when this is the case. To create phrasing and dynamics, it helps some to think of their guitar (or any instrument) as singing or talking. Try singing a solo and playing the same on your guitar. You won't likely get the notes correct (at least not right away), but you can match the attacks at the beginnings of words, the relative dynamics and -- very importantly -- the breaths you take.

As far as knowing which notes one is playing while improvising a single line solo: It's not the only way, and frankly, while it is useful in pre-composing a solo, it seems neither sufficient nor even necessary for on-the-spot lead or solo playing. Many soloists learn to anticipate what interval would sound good and play the correct next note relative to the current note to make that "envisioned" sound happen. For those who improvise in this manner, ear training on intervals -- both sequential notes and simultaneous notes -- is important.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@kingpatzer)
Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2171
 

As far as knowing which notes one is playing while improvising a single line solo: It's not the only way, and frankly, while it is useful in pre-composing a solo, it seems neither sufficient nor even necessary for on-the-spot lead or solo playing. Many soloists learn to anticipate what interval would sound good and play the correct next note relative to the current note to make that "envisioned" sound happen. For those who improvise in this manner, ear training on intervals -- both sequential notes and simultaneous notes -- is important.

I agree that soloists tend to play with a melodic ear for the next interval, but I frequently will re-contextualize a phrase to a new, related scale. I know a lot of other jazz players who do the same thing. As well as knowing, by looking at the chart, that "hmmm, this section is a run of iv-ii-V-I changes . .. if I end of the V of vi going into the ii, then I can either slide down to the I of ii, or up to the iii of ii and re-play the same phrase and I'll get a nice melodic movement tying the two measures together ..." You don't think of it that in-depth while playing, but after you a while you have those basic ideas in your head, and you naturally pull them out. They become part of your vocabulary of playing.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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 Nuke
(@nuke)
Active Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

Gentlemen...........thanks to all those who replied! All answers gratefully received, and very useful.

Cheers!


   
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(@jwing)
Active Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 8
 

I agree with most of the tips already given, but I have amalgamted them slightly differently:

1)Learn to play a single solo as it is sung.
2)When you have 1) down pat, try adding little flourishes such as lead-in runs, approach notes, slides, pull-offs, etc., but keep the melody as sung. You now have a small vocabulary of phrases (musically called licks) that you know how they sound and how to play them without thinking about scales.
3)Repeat the process with another song in the same key. You'll have more licks in your vocabulary.
4)Experiment with impovising by playing licks from your vocabulary in places other than the context you learned them.
5)Go back to 1), playing the melody straight. In subsequent verses, try mixing up the order of the melody notes, but keep the phrasing and rhythm the same. When you get confident with that, add 2) into the mix, along with non-melody notes that are part of the scale of the key you are playing in. This is almost the same as 4), but coming at it from the approach of inventing licks of your own.
6) The more songs you learn verbatim, the easier you improvs will become. The trick is to be hyper-aware when learning verbatim, not just learning by rote.

As far as right hand technique goes, learn how to control the strings with the heel of your palm. There are many shades and nuances of muting that color a rhythm played on guitar. It takes lots and lots of practice and awareness.


   
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