View Full Version : Scales problem . are we real guitarists ?

11-03-2004, 09:50 AM
hello everybody
i think im having a problem about my scales , and improvisation on them ... first of all . i know all scale patterns , ans i played all kinds of exercises on them ... but still my soloing and improvisation sucks .. and also i think im missing some part about moving from a scale pattern to another .. following an ascending way .... ie;from loware notes on sixth sring , frets 1,2,3,4 . up to higher notes on higher E string , Frets 12,13,14, . i think playing the scale that way is something im missing here . so...... anyone can just do something good for me , and give me the experience of his life about scales .. and how he realy added something to his scales playing ?

11-03-2004, 09:59 AM
well.. scaleexercises are unlikely to help with improvisation. you figured that one out.
music is about imagination and expression.
scales and notes are the colours, you paint the picture.

think about what do you want to say when playing something? then choose the words (notes, scales, harmonies) that transport your idea.

listen to others, analyse why it sounds the way it sounds - sad, happy, angry hopefull, heroic, depressed, slightly unhappy, slightly unhappy with a touch of hope... there are so many things to express - find your words and take a look at how others managed to transport their feel.

try to musically desrcibe a landscape, a sundown, a tree, a hamburger, a old ugly woman, a young ugly woman, a pink frog....

think music and not scaleruns.. then you'll be on your way ;)

from loware notes on sixth sring , frets 1,2,3,4 . up to higher notes on higher E string , Frets 12,13,14, .

concerning that prob, i don't have y clue what you're talking about :rolleyes: .

11-03-2004, 11:25 AM
Magic time is when melody steps on to the fretboard. :cool:

Melody is defined as: A tune; a succession of tones comprised of mode, rhythm, and pitches so arranged as to achieve musical shape, being perceived as a unity by the mind. In a piece of music where there is more than one voice, or where harmony is present, the melody is the dominant tune of the composition.

Melody only walks on my fretboard when I chicken pick. So, I'm still trapped in patterns, scales, etc. But, I feel this is necessary. I have to master patterns, scales, arpeggios, etc. before true melody runs on my fretboard.

It's that old P word. What I'm enjoying right now is jamming with CD's and backing tracks --- still sounds like scales, but melody is just before happening.

11-03-2004, 11:31 AM
there are two books that i can recommend and that might be very helpfull for you. check them out:

the guitarists guide to composing and improvising (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0634016350/qid=1099481341/sr=1-8/ref=sr_1_8/104-5077216-6718332?v=glance&s=books)


the inner game of music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0385231261/qid=1099481441/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-5077216-6718332?v=glance&s=books)

11-03-2004, 02:21 PM
Well, knowing scale patterns isn't enough. I wish it could be though. There are some other things you have to take into account when improvising. Actually alot of other things. Remember though...these are just guidelines and music theory doesn't necessarily make the music for you. You have to use music theory as a tool to help you make music. You have to feel the song out before you play it.

The things you need to know are Chord Progressions and how to get them from certain scales, Modes and how they relate to Chords and Chord progressions, and then finally harmony. Assuming you know scales you also have to be profficient with reading intervallic notation in order to properaly derive the easiest chord from each mode. There are a handful of articles on here that explain modes, intervals, harmony, chord progressions, and how they all relate to each other. There are also loads of other threads out here that address this problem directly. If you still haven't found what your looking for I'll be glad to explain everything to you and help you.

Los Boleros
11-03-2004, 04:02 PM
Try this:
Listen to your favorite music but instead of learning the guitar solos, Learn to play the vocalists melody lines. These are the lines that represent the flavor of the song. They include nice skips in the scale that make melodic sense. Get good at this and soon enough you will be able to use these type of melodies in between small linear runs and really mix it up.

11-03-2004, 11:49 PM
I'll say it yet again: forget about scales for a while and concentrate on creating melody from chord tones, those notes that make up the chords as they come and go. They are scattered the length of the fretboard (most of them are repeats) and when you can see them there, you can turn them into melody, with a little help from the non-chord tones.

http://www.thatllteachyou.com/chrdtns/index.shtml is a little lesson I made which goes into more detail.

Scales work well for some people, but I'm like you son-of-earth, they never became music for me. Chord tones, however ... a whole different story.


11-04-2004, 03:58 AM
hello everybody
i think im having a problem about my scales , and improvisation on them ... first of all . i know all scale patterns , ans i played all kinds of exercises on them ... but still my soloing and improvisation sucks .. and also i think im missing some part about moving from a scale pattern to another .. following an ascending way .... ie;from loware notes on sixth sring , frets 1,2,3,4 . up to higher notes on higher E string , Frets 12,13,14, . i think playing the scale that way is something im missing here . so...... anyone can just do something good for me , and give me the experience of his life about scales .. and how he realy added something to his scales playing ?

hi, for me improvisation practice isn't anything implicit or special. It is just pure practice, just like practicing speed on a scale run, over and over again.

I try to think of some lines I want to play, and I play it. And if it does come out correctly, I pause the music and figure out what I actually wanted to play. Then I practice that lick over and over again. So it sort of become part of my lick library. When that kind of rhythm comes out again I know what I can play.

When I want to play something fast, I practice beforehand. Then when improvising I can shred this more confidently. Of course, it doesn't sound like improvising this way. But I do play some improvised lines, modified lines here and there, combine with a library of licks that I can play.

I guess there might be some guitarists who can play what they hear more instantly, but I guess it will take me more than a while to reach there.

11-04-2004, 06:26 AM
concentrate first in one scale (Ionian Mode) instead of learning them all at once and find yourself facing a blank wall... I train myself to follow the sound of my "hum"... I read that one somewhere... it was an interview of Slash...

11-04-2004, 08:00 AM
i know no other way to write guitar melodies and solos than to just feel around.

i really can't imagine doing it by thinking.

11-04-2004, 02:15 PM
I think that there should be intuitive and intellectual processes in improvisation. One definitely doesn't preclude the other. If there's a solo coming up, I may think of what note I'd like to start on - what texture will start things off, because that often determines the intuitive decisions that you make after that.

In connection with what KirkLorange said, I agree that chord tones are important - contextualizing scale tones in a chord is probably the most important intellectual leap you can make in successful improvising(in my opinion). Once I learned to build triads from the major scale, and saw that it was just the notes of the scale stacking on top of each other, it became easier to think of scales and chord tones at the same time. There is no reason for these tools to be mutually exclusive either - I think it's more a question of perspective than content.

Learning vocal melodies is also a great way to develop your ear, and it's a lot of fun to try to mimic the singer's inflections(very good for vibrato, dynamics, etc.). I find that to be some of the most relaxing practice in my routine.

11-04-2004, 08:17 PM
Some famous musician once said, “You are what you practice“. If you just practice scales, then your playing will sound mostly stepwise.

Here are a few common ideas that may help to break up stepwise/pent. playing:

1) Use Scale Patterns. 123, 234, 345 ... 1432, 2543, 3654... 1235, 2346, ...
2) Use upper and lower neighbor tones on chord tones - or- Non-Harmonic tones
3) Use Diatonic Triads, either 3-note arp or 4-note arp, on each scale tone degree
4) Use extended arpeggios, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 9th extended tones with a basic chord/triad. (mi11/sus, mi6, mi7, mi9, -or- sus4, Ma6, Ma7, Ma9
5) Chromatic Passing Tones within Diatonic Triads or Extended Arpeggios
6) Use Lower Structure Triads: Any major, minor, dim, or aug triad that comprises the chord tones from a given chord or scale. For example: Cmaj7 will have an Emi7 –or C6 will have an Ami triad.
7) Use upper Structure Triads: Any major, minor, aug, dim triad which is comprised of chord tones from any given chord, but must contain at least one allowable tension tone. For example, you can use G triad/arp over Cmaj7. G is the 5th of C, B is the Ma7 of C and D is the Ma9(allowable tension) of C.
CMajor7/Major6> use Ami-ii, G-V, Bmi-vii
8) Use Tritonic Scales: Root, P4, P5, Octive They sort of sound like “Eric Johnson” type chords/licks or “inside” power chords.
In the key of C: Root: C,F,G,C - 1st inversion: F,G,C,F – 2nd Inversion: G,C,F,G
The Tritonic scale is sort of a major triad sus4 chord. What’s really kwel is to build a root Tritonic scale starting on scale tones. For Cmaj7/6, play root Tritonics on these scales tones, 2-D, 3-E, 5-G, 6-A . You can also build one on the 7 degree and it will be Lydian sounding.
For Am dorian you build them off the 1-A, 2-B, 4-D, 5-E, b7-G scale degrees.
9) Major Pentatonic Scales
Cmaj7/6: 1-C, 5-G, (Lydian 2-D)
Am: b3-C, 4-D, b7-G
10) Pandiatonic Progressions - A tone row (non-stepwise lick), which comprises all the 7 tones of the diatonic scale. It will create very melodic lines and forces you to play every note in the scale. You can also apply Inversion, Retrograde and Retrograde Inversion of the original lick (tone row) for melodic material.
11) Motif Soloing – Start out with lick (motif) then use that idea to generate new ideas by changing the motif rhythm, using only fragments of the original motif to develop new material, adding melodic extensions to the original motif. Most advance jazz players use the motif development concept to generate parts their solos.
12) Alternate Scale choices :
Major Ionian: Lydian, Bebop(MA), Harmonic Major, Augmented, Blues Scale, Diminished (H/W), Harmonic Minor (mode 6)
Minor Dorian: Melodic minor (Jazz minor), In-Sen, Harmonic minor, Diminished (W/H), Bebop(Minor), Blues, Phrygian, Dorian b2 (Melodic mode 2)
13) Also mixing Double-Time, Half-Time and Triplet-Time, varying the Density of how many notes you play in a phrase, vary the Phrase Lengths (short, medium, long), use articulation (accents and dynamics) etc. These will help increase interest in your solo.

It’s difficult explaining these concepts in a short amount of space. There are some books available that explain these concepts in detail or find a good teacher. Some of these concepts may be unfamiliar, but are structured to get you to think more 'theory' like, than just by 'feel' alone. IMHO, you need to incorporate both in a balanced way. (licks/ear and theory) :D
I hope this helps,


11-04-2004, 08:51 PM
i will weigh in once more in defense of my odd perspective. this is not in defense of abandoning theory at all, just to explain how its possible to write solos without knowing any.

i really like my solos, but i have no idea what i'm doing theoretically when i do them. (i can't even, like debaser does, decide which note to start on. if i'm jamming and a solo is needed, often i will just slide my finger up the neck until i'm in the neighborhood). i think my solos sound "good" because of a sense of rise/fall and tension/release that i've developed over the years. some of them are sooooo simple, you could plot them on a graph the way they rise to a peak and then fall and explore different energy levels. that's all it seems to be--hanging around in one energy level and exploring the surrounding melodic notes (always trying to create a pleasing, sensible melody with a few surprises here and there) and then going to a new energy level that makes sense in the context of the chords. i've listened to sso many pentatonic and blues rock solos that i think i've developed a feel for the concept of "call and response." even though i don't write solos of that type, it is a terribly useful thing to pay attention to in any song you're listening to, because it trains your ear to pay attention to the "phraseology" of the solo. the grammar of it, where the pauses are, and the ebb and flow. the way it's like a sentence unfolding through the energy levels. like a person talking, melodically.

one time i was trying to force my band's lead guitarist to teach me scales, but he refused, saying he thought it would mess up my sense of melody. i am a bit worried because i'm going to be learning scales this year. but i think i know what to do.

since i've got the energy level thing down, and a sense of how solos are like sentences, i think that i will be throwing in scalar runs at those moments in the solo where you get that feeling to "go spastic." i encounter it often. my hand wants to take off and go nuts but it doesnt have the theory. that's where i want my theory. otherwise, i believe it wise to continue playing in my head intervallically, without thought but by following these shapes that seem to unfold. it is working. it IS knowledge, but it was gained subconsciously and it is difficult to define.

11-04-2004, 10:31 PM
yes, it’s probably best not to “mess” with your playing if it’s working for ya at the moment.

all I’m saying, at some point, you learn most of all the stock pent/blues/dorian ‘licks’ from ear from everybody, and they all start sounding the same, if you know what I mean. you get to a point where you can just hear most licks and know where they are on the fingerboard, but you know there’s other guitar players out there doing something more harmonically advance and that’s where you want to be. you can do it by ear, i know i tried and got very frustrated trying to learn non-pent/blues licks. it’s a lot harder because they use more advance concepts/scales etc. once I learned advanced jazz theory/scales/arp etc., it was all clear to me to what these advanced players were doing. i just sort of slowly start incorporating these new concepts into my stock of blues/pent stuff and change my style over the years, playing over more progressive chord changes. you obviously don’t just throw away everything you have learned; you slowly add new harmonic tools and ideas once you develop/refined an idea, which helps make your playing stand out from fellow players. Pat metheny once said he’s basically just a blues player, that’s his roots.(Clapton/Page/Hendrix etc.)


11-04-2004, 11:21 PM
Vidkid great posts!

I often am one who uses my ear more then scales, though I usually hit the root of the chord im playing over a few times to make it fit in more :D

Also, using scales or not using scales, Try sing as/bit before you improvise. This works on your improv, your ear, and your creativity. This is a bit hard sometimes for me, as I like to jump from the low E to the High E and my voice can't always take it :P


11-05-2004, 02:59 PM
Fortymile; I don't think you have to necessarily "defend" your point of view or experience. I was responding to your post, but not in a negative way. I'm sure that your solos work out fine.

I will say, though, that if an influx of knowledge, or information, turns out to be a negative influence on your playing, then you aren't applying it properly(not you specifically, but people in general). There is no reason that having another tool to make a job simpler should in any way detract from what your ear tells you to do - you have to make it work for you, not vice versa.

11-05-2004, 08:27 PM
yeah, that's what i've always said when people tell me "theory? that's a set of rules; why would i want to learn something that will cripple my playing blah blah blah"