We’ve been talking a lot on the blog lately about improvisation methods and systems. The guitar is a double-edged sword in this regard as a solo can be approached in many ways depending on the player and the desired result. Whatever your style or genre is, and if you’re going the scales over chords route, you’ll want to consider these two golden rules to make the most of your moment of glory.
In Part 8, we look at the last of the upper chord extensions: the 13, and we'll also be walking you through the process of analyzing a set of changes in order to approach soloing over them using everything we've covered so far. If you still feel unsure about locating intervals on the fretboard, check out 'Melodic Soloing in 10 Days', which is a 10-day program to help you learn every interval all over the fretboard.
You might be feeling somewhat overwhelmed at this point, so it would be a good idea to take a breather and take stock of what we’ve learned so far.
Nowadays, I play in fourths tuning (EADGCF) around 75% of the time because I love it, and the rest of the time I use standard (covers gigs, teaching, etc.) because it’s just more practical. However, one of the things I miss about standard tuning when I’m in fourths is the sheer variation of scale patterns available on a non-symmetrical fretboard. Ironically, this was one of the things that used to annoy me about standard tuning, but I’ve come to see it in a different light. If you’ve ever learned those clunky 3NPS or CAGED patterns and not felt you were really able to make music with them, read on…
So far, we’ve looked at our core intervals, the 1, 3, and 7 (plus the b3 and b7), the 5 and the natural 6. Let’s turn our attention to the 9; the 9 is the same as the 2 but it’s almost always referred to as the 9, b9 or #9 when we talk about chords. This is not true when it comes to scales, which are mostly spelt in number order when referring to their interval structure. Hook your looper pedal up and let's check it out...
In Part 4 of this series of blog posts, we look at how to decode chords and compare improvising with scales to thinking in intervals. The latter approach allows us to have more control over what we play while understanding the chord we're playing over. This sounds fairly logical on paper, but you'll find that most guitarists don't put this information to good use. Don't forget to treat yourself to a looper pedal if you haven't got one already as this will speed up the process no end!
In Part 3, we start soloing over chord changes using the four base sequences from Part 2. Remember, this is a much more efficient process if you have a looper pedal at hand. If you don't have one yet, you deserve one so treat yourself to one on Amazon. I recommend the tc electronic and Boss RC-1 loopers but I've yet to find a bad looper, so they're all great value for money.
In this series of blog lessons, we're looking at how to solo over chord changes by using a simple system I came up with based on four sequences of notes. Check out Part 1 if you haven't already, and if you don't have one already, treat yourself to a looper pedal as it will speed up this entire process and have you wailing over chord changes in no time.
Chord tone soloing and soloing over changes on guitar is a complex area which can be approached in many ways, and where even a cursory search for online resources is likely to leave you with more questions than answers. It’s particularly difficult on guitar because guitarists tend to arrive at this point with varying amounts of knowledge and gaps in their playing, whereas other instrumentalists approach soloing over changes in a more uniform way. For example, you may have learned how to improvise using scale patterns, or arpeggios; you may improvise entirely by ear and not even be aware of the theory behind what you’re playing, or you may have had a more academic approach to the subject. While it’s true that everyone learns differently, I believe that a solid approach to soloing over changes requires a system that is a) not based on patterns, b) develops the ability to locate notes on the neck either by interval or by the name of the note, and c) develops the player’s ear to the point where he/she is able to fully express themselves and truly improvise on their instrument as oppose to a formulaic, calculated and somewhat cold approach to something that should be, insofar as is possible, spontaneously created in the moment; and this is what I hope to achieve with this series of blog lessons (also available as a PDF eBook here).
I recently got my hands on a copy of Wayne Krantz’ Improvisor’s OS book; weighing in at a little under 100 pages and barely a centimeter thick with no fancy cover, and not a single diagram – fretboard or otherwise – you’re left wondering what exactly it might contain. You’re in for a treat because it’s one of the most mind-blowing books you’ll ever read on guitar improvisation, or improvisation on any instrument for that matter, IF you’re ready for it. Are you?
We all know that one of the biggest challenges faced by guitarists, after putting in the hours to learn all those scale patterns, is how to play seamlessly up and down the fretboard and meld all those patterns into one unit. There are many ways to do this, and we’ve already covered a fair few ideas right here on the blog; these ideas, however, are particularly useful if you know your scale shapes like the back of your hand, but your fingers won’t let you play outside of well-worn patterns. This is a common problem, and it’s a difficult one to spot…
The guitar courses on Udemy provide a quality, and not to mention affordable, solution for anyone whose either looking for online guitar tuition, wants to learn at their own pace, can’t get a teacher in their area, or wants to learn something specific. The Udemy platform provides a multimedia learning environment where with any course you have full access for life on any device, learning material in the form of PDFs, backing tracks, and HD video, plus the ability to contact the creator of the course should you get stuck. If you like the sound of that, you can skip ahead and go straight to the guitar courses here, or check out the following nine courses which we think (we’ve tried them all) will really take your playing to the next level this year.
If you’re a guitarist of the rock, metal, punk or even blues persuasion, one of the first things you learned was probably a power chord or two. Combining these easy-to-finger chords with a hefty dose of distortion and volume not only provided hours of fun, but probably annoyed the hell out of your neighbors too. Power chords are effective but easy to dismiss due to the abundant use of one shape; however, I recently revisited power chords and discovered a multitude of ways to use them.
You may not have heard of him but Wayne Krantz is a monster guitar player. He’s carved a truly unique sound on the instrument based on discarding traditional chord shapes and scale patterns in favor of a rhythmically-driven approach that takes advantage of the entire fretboard and the very nature of the guitar itself. Wayne’s approach reflects a unique and disciplined practice regime which you can find in his book, An Improviser’s OS, but here we’ll be looking at how he incorporates open strings into his guitar work and blurs the lines between single-note and chordal playing.
Reaching an intermediate level of guitar playing is a great achievement, it means you have the discipline and perseverance to stick with what can be a very frustrating instrument to learn. It’s around this stage in your learning that it dawns on you how much there is to learn, as well as just how far you can go with the instrument, which is both exciting and daunting. It’s inevitable that you’ll reach this stage in your playing with more than a few holes in your knowledge, and if you want to get off the intermediate plateau and into advanced territory, it’s time to fill them in. So, here are 8 gaps in your knowledge that might be holding you back, and what to do about them.
In Part 5 of our guide to soloing over everything, we look at the contents of a very useful key indeed: A Major (F# Minor). The keys we’ve looked at so far work well on guitar and your improvisation and chord abilities will take a giant leap forward just by knowing something as simple as what chords are in what keys – something which a lot of (advanced) players still haven’t bothered to learn.
I'm a huge fan and student of jazz guitar, but I'm definitely not an expert. If you've ever tried to get into jazz guitar, you may have found it a daunting experience. To remedy this, we got together with Marc-Andre Seguin from jazzguitarlessons.net who's come up with 10 effective ways to learn, and more importantly, break us gently into the world of jazz guitar.
If you think you know your scales, think again – your knowledge may be incomplete. A lot of players equate knowing a scale with knowing the patterns and how to find it on the fretboard. This isn’t even half the story, let alone a fifth of the story, as there are at least 5 different ways that I can think of to know a scale – if you think of any more, let me know in the comments.
So, you know the fingering pattern for a scale, but do you know:
If you’ve been practicing the three patterns, you can probably imagine what’s coming next. We’re going to move the whole thing to D, or the key of D Major. D Major is another incredibly popular key for rock and pop music, so it’s well-worth exploring. It also contains other options for soloing over chords we’ve already come across such as Em, G, Bm, and D itself. Let’s dive in.