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improvising solos...

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sharar
(@sharar)
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Im gonna go jam with my friends on saturday, and they want me to be able to improvise a solo...and I am terrible at it. I need some advice on improvising solos using the Bb pentatonic Scale. Im the worst player out of the 4 of us, and don't want to make a fool of myself too much.


   
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Vic Lewis VL
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easy way out, tell 'em, "I don't solo - only been playing (insert number here) days/weeks...... I play rhythm!" That way, no one'll expect you to play blindingly fast solos, on the other hand you better be able to keep a good rhythm.....

Best of luck!

:D :D :D

vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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Voodoo_Merman
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First thing, by friday you're not going to be much better at improvising than you are now no matter what you do.

Second thing, learn the notes of the Bb pent scale. Learn them as if your life depended on it. If one of your buddies asks for a particular interval you should be able to tell him what it is and play it everywhere on the fretboard fifty times before he finishes asking the question. :) It should only take a couple hours to commit the note names to memory.

Thirdly, just start playing the scale (against chords if you wish) and listening to the intervals. Try to remember what sounds nice to you and what doesn't. What notes sound good after others and which ones don't.

You are now improvising. Taddaaa! When your mates start throwing chord progressions at you, try to emphasize the tonic note of the chord they are playing. This should not be a problem since you will know the notes of the key.

Good luck. And, don't feel bad if you don't do too well at first. You are not racing against them. You only race against yourself.

At this time I would like to tell you that NO MATTER WHAT...IT IS WITH GOD. HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL. HIS WAY IS IN LOVE, THROUGH WHICH WE ALL ARE. IT IS TRULY -- A LOVE SUPREME --. John Coltrane


   
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Wes Inman
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There are two Bb Pentatonic scales. There is the Minor scale and the Major scale. Generally, the Minor Pentatonic will have a Rock or Blues flavor, the Major Pentatonic will sound Country. So there is a place to start right there, do you want it to sound Rock or Country?

The Minor Pentatonic 1st position will be at the 6th fret. The Major Pentatonic 1st position will be at the 3rd fret. But the pattern shapes are exactly the same.

Best advice I can give you is think of the guitar like your voice. Play notes like you are singing to someone. Many players actually sing the scale and play along with the guitar. This is a great method.

Check out this video of the great jazz player George Benson. He uses this technique of copying his singing voice often.

Don't stress out, jamming is supposed to be fun. And oftentimes what you think sounds terrible sounds good to others. Just cut loose and play the best you can. It will come out great.

Good luck and let us know how you do.

Wes

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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mess
 mess
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Don't overdo it. A lot of the solos we liked before we played guitar were much simpler than the solos we appreciate now.

You really can make a solo work with just three notes. Not a ten minute solo, but you know what I mean right? Think more about bends and note placement than about stringing together scales and chord tones.


   
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Scrybe
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you said they were friends of yours, and anyone with a sense of decency/maturity will remember when they struggled to do the things they can do easily now, so...........chill. 8)

Now that you've chilled on the whole 'making a fool of myself front' you'll be in a mind to approach this sensibly, at which point the comments made in this thread already should give you enough to go on.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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Blueline
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When it comes time for you to do the lead, hold the pick with your teeth, bring the guitar up to your face and let it RIPPPP. Then, when they look at you, say..."What, you guys don't know how to do that yet???" then put a look of suprise on your face!! :P

Hey...you have to have a good sense of humor when you play..Right???

Anyways, take heed to all of the advise above and above all...HAVE FUN!!!!

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


   
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Phinnin
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I have some questions/comment that seem to fit into this thread that may help both me and the original poster.

I recently changed my role in my band and will need to play some more improv. leads. I always played structured solo's when I did lead before.

Anyway I am trying to come up with "rules" for soloing in the minor pentatonic. I have a tendency to noodle along but I will either pause in the wrong place (sounds like garbage) or bend in the wrong place (also garbage). So let me know what you think of these and please add more if you can think of any:

Guidelines for solo'ing in the minor pentatonic: (Bb in this case)

First of all, here are the notes of the key:

A# - C# - D# - F - G# - A#
R - b3 - 4 - 5 - b7 - R (root, flat 3rd, 4th, 5th, flat 7th, root)

Now for the rules (none are required, just guidelines to work with if you at a total loss)

- Try to start with the either the root or the chord note being played (will always be R, 4th or 5th in a 12 bar progression)
- Try to end/pause on either root or chord being played. Avoid b3 or b7 as a pause note.
- Don't bend the Root or 5th since if you bend one step, you will be out of the scale
- Octave to octave runs usually sound great.
- The song will usually sound better with 3 note runs (or 6 if you wanna boogie) or 4 note runs depending on the timing of the song. Try each one and go with whichever one works best.
- Pausing is mandatory. The silence makes the music.

Any others? Anyone have any input on what I have so far (I am just beginning my journey on leads, so hammer away)? What are the best bending notes? Anyone have any slide rules? etc....

Anyway, I am a really anal retentive person by nature so I will never be able to "improvise" until I have a set of rules to work with (horrible huh? that's what I get for starting at 35 years old, inflexible brain and all at this age.)

So that's my input and my question. Any help for us newbs?


   
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Scrybe
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starting on a note from the chord being played at the time is usually a good one (an extension of your first rule). although you can start e.g. a note below the root note of the chord being played, provided you quickly slide/bend/move up to the root note. timing is everything in what makes a note sound good or bad. playing a short note from utside the chord you're soloing over will work fine if you then move up/down to a note in the chord.

on bending notes.....for some reason (and I myself had to ponder this a lil when I first started), guitarists seem to approach beinding (for the first time) thinking "ah, the 5th fret 3rd string is in my scale, so I'll play that note and bend it" - you have to make sure the 'target note' (the note you're bending up to) is gonna sound good, too. this is perhaps more important than the pre-bent note sounding good, imho. this is where practising your scales can be beneficial - practise your scales in the normal way, then go through them again, this time bending notes where feasible. that way, it'll become second nature what notes can/can't be bent. that said, in a blues you can often bend notes slightly sharp, this isn't in the basic pentatonic scale pattern you usualy learn, but sounds classically bluesy. try copying this from records to get a feel for it.

yup, silence is golden. watch any great blues player solo - they'll usually have a bit where they 'go quiet' and just hit one short note. then maybe hit it again, this time playing it a little longer, witha touch of vibrato. developing dynamics (e.g. rolling back your volume control or changing picking style to play quieter) and developing space/phrasing are the two key ingredients in sounding masterful, and why guys like BB King and Eric Clapton can sound great just playing simple pentatonics.

another 'trick' which is fairly easy to do in soloing but sounds great (and is used from classical music onwards) is to play a shot riff, then play the same riff an octave up. or a slight variation of it an octave up. you can create a kinda call-and-response thing there with just your guitar.

and don't be afraid of repetition listen to any great imrpoviser, the jazz guys do it all the time, so do the blues guys. they'll take a phrase and repeat it and maybe throw in some slight variation. its an integral part of our musical enjoyment (most listeners prefer music that is at least slightly predictable) so you'll sound much better than the guy trying to solo without playing the same thing twice.

hth

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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TMarius
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Well i was going to add my two cents but i think the above post covered everything i could think of!

+1

Tom


   
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Wes Inman
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Well, I really think you should have just one rule:

NO RULES

If you try to play lead by using a formula, that is just what it will sound like. One of the best things you can do when soloing is go "outside the box". Lots of times when I solo, I just go anywhere on the guitar and play completely out of scale. That may sound wrong, but sometimes it is doing something like this that makes a solo unique and interesting.

And I don't know about you, but I can play much faster than I can think. If I try to think while I play I freeze up and sound rigid. So I have learned to just play with abandon. I never know where a solo will start or end really. I hit bad notes all the time, I have learned not to worry about it. Sometimes I think I played a horrible solo and somebody will come up and tell me how great it was. It is more the attitude and feeling you play with than the exact precise notes.

But some of your points are good. It is always good to know what chord you are playing over, and know the important notes. For a Major chord you want to know where the Root, 3rd, and 5th are, and play these notes. If it is a Minor chord, you want to know where that flatted 3rd is. By focusing in on notes like this, the listener will actually hear the chord progression even though you are playing single notes.

I completely disagree about avoiding 7th's and 3rd's. Man, those are some of your best notes as well as 6ths and 9ths. These notes will add tremendous color to your solo. So don't worry about going out of your Pentatonic scale.

One of the best tips I ever learned was from Jimi Hendrix. He said whenever he hit a bad note, he just bent it till it sounded good. That tip has saved me a thousand times. :D

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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TMarius
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One of the best tips I ever learned was from Jimi Hendrix. He said whenever he hit a bad note, he just bent it till it sounded good. That tip has saved me a thousand times. :D

I love it! :lol: Fantastic Advice


   
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crkt246
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Wes said everthing you'll need to know.


   
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Phinnin
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I am of the thought that everyone uses rules but most of you don't realize it. Time and experience create these rules in your head and you never give them conscious thought. But for those of us struggling to find out how to avoid that crappy pause or bent string that sounds wrong, some guidelines may help. I noodle away and sometimes I say to myself "ouch, that sucked." I am making an effort to find out why that note didn't work in that spot. Hence the rules.

Guidelines may be a better term.


   
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TMarius
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As far as 'rules' go, I think that improv (especially blues) is just one of those things where the more you play the better you get. Apart from knowing which notes are in the scale etc you cant do much more than just play and try and 'feel' it. If you hit a bad note, so be it, chances are you'll avoid hitting it again (because you're aware of it) and slowly you're playing will get better each time you pick up the guitar.

This trial and error method is how I started improvising, and there may be other ways of doing it but it (eventually) worked for me.

So I think as far as 'knowing' when to play certain notes or when to pause or whatever just comes naturally after honing your skills, you can't rely on a set of rules or formula.


   
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