Just starting to solo for a few years now...

ChadChad Bellingham, WashingtonNew
edited January 2005 in Technique Posts: 45
OK Dennis, I have been playing a long time. 30 years or so, I am a good rythym guitarist although some of the "thumb chords" some people push just dont work for me. My big thing is soloing. I have been working on heads for a lot of songs and I am getting way better at that, I have been working my scales and such for a while, but I have yet to figure out how to integrate this into soloing. Should I just continue on and memorize licks and such? It is a bit frustrating, but I am going to figure this out darn it all. If only I could figure out how to have a guitar here at work that I could just pick up when the mood strikes me...

Wholly Man


  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    that's a really hard question to answer....

    my opinion when it comes to learning music is to train the ear by relying on your ear as much as you can and only using books/scores/charts when you're totally stuck... having someone show you something is also ear training...

    One of the best ways to do this, is through active listening... listen to tunes with your guitar on hand, and pick out licks (or if you're patient entire solos) that interest you... picking out the lick itself is not enough, it's important to pick out the harmony it goes over and also understand how it works rhythmically....

    by doing this , you are expanding your django vocabulary, and it helps you understand how things work in this style with regards to improvisation...

    the more developed your ear is , the better you're able to hear melodies in your head and play them as you hear em...

    as a test, try to play the happy birthday theme IN TIME (bring out the ol metronome and set it at a decent tempo) without messing up once... it's much harder than it seems...

    finally, the best way to progress in any style of music, is to challenge yourself constantly, by learning something new every week or even every month.... there's absolutely no point in practicing things you already know... stop practicing your C major arpeggio if you already know it, you're not gonna forget it... move on..

    think about it... if you learn one concept a week... within a year, you'll have learned over 50 ideas...

    finally as you begin to progress and understand how things work, you'll learn at a much faster rate...

    well i hope that helps!
  • djangologydjangology Portland, OregonModerator
    Posts: 1,018
    i agree with all the things Dennis describes. after going through this process in a fashion such as Dennis suggests I have managed to improve.

    i think the 5 biggest things for me were:

    1. practice diminished arpeggios until you can play them very very fast with rest stroke (as fast as jimmy). this is numero uno important. practice them every time you pick up the guitar. practice playing only diminished arps as your entire solo over a tune. "feel" the tension and release with your ear as you do this!!! this is just a tool, its not the way to solo.

    2. learn the ACE system that Wrembel teaches and solo over major and minor triads with the help of your ear.

    3. approach notes. one fret from below. 1 or 2 frets from above, depending on how your ear hears it. practice different combinations of this. try to gain muscle memory on some of these.

    4. choose either minor6th OR "the altered scale" (not both until you understand one) and learn it all over the guitar fingerboard in all positions with rest stroke. eventually you should be able to mix it with what you learned in step 1 and also play JUST AS FAST. (im not suggesting you play fast all the time. i am only suggesting that you use fast playing to train your ear to hear tension and release)

    5. finally, always try inventing and playing your licks in different order. always seek out what sounds nice to you. remember what you discover. try slow things and fast things. find things that make you laugh or feel sad. try everything. experiment. NEVER EVER be satisfied with playing something you already have played. this is the number one thing I learned from Marcelo Damon and it is sometimes all the enjoyment i get when I play the same song for the 1000th time.
  • ChadChad Bellingham, WashingtonNew
    Posts: 45
    Thanks you guys, that does help. I think I really need to spend more tme listening with a guitar in my hand. I tend to get lost in the theory aspects of the playing, that and trying to do scales...

    Wholly Man
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