How to get better at improvising guitar

Improvising: Ways to break out of the box!

Over the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of improvising at my gigs. This has been an amazing opportunity to release my creative side and I’ve definitely milked every chance for an over-indulged solo! However, I have found recently that having so much creative freedom can actually result in constraining it. You can end up stuck in the same phrases, getting comfortable with your ‘go to’ licks and inevitably getting tired of your own solos. So I tasked myself with figuring out how to break out of this solo rut, and here is what I found…

Breaking out of the box

Improvising: Ways to break out of the box!

As a guitarist that grew up listening to a lot of metal and studying the likes of Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai and crew at university, I have spent a lot of time learning scales and ridiculously fast licks, hammering in pentatonic’s to a metronome and endlessly chugging through modes. I found this incredibly useful over time and a great way to learn the fretboard, but it is easy to get stuck in these shapes and start to rely on them.

By breaking out of the box, I mean leaving the safety of scale positions and trying to play more fluidly, thinking carefully about note choice and melody. Try thinking of your solo lines as a vocal melody, something that tells a story and leads the song, as opposed to a sequence of licks and scales. You want your solo to be memorable and singable, the best solos are the ones that stick in your mind. As you practice this and get used to composing melodies as you play, then try adding some of your impressive scale shredding in-between your melodic ideas. This works really well for leading in more melodic phrases and for building intensity, which can be the cherry on top. 

Rhythm 

In my opinion, rhythm is as important as the notes you choose, if not more so. This is the way we latch our playing to the song, create groove and structure our solo. So by really variating the rhythms we choose throughout our solo, we can start to create more interesting lines. There are a few useful and fun ways I’ve been using to do this!

Practicing over lots of different tempos has been a great way to prepare for all different kinds of solo scenarios. There’s nothing worse than soloing over a beat that is too fast for your licks and not being able to keep up, or too slow and being unable to lock into it. By consistently playing at varied tempos you will start to understand how to really work with different grooves and what kind of lines are suitable at different speeds. This will make your playing much more consistent. 

Practicing over drum beats is a really effective way of tightening up your playing and learning how to communicate with other musicians. Really focus on what the drummer is doing, listen to his hi-hat pattern and where he is placing his kick and snare. By locking in with his pattern and using accents to highlight the beat, the whole feel of the song will benefit. If you don’t know any drummers, you can do this with any of the many jam along backing tracks on the internet. 

Focus your practice!

I know, it sounds obvious… but REALLY focus your practice. The best way to improve your playing is to constantly analyse what your doing and identify how you can make it better. Try starting your practice by writing down exactly what it is that you want to work on in that session. If you’re the kind of person who likes to be super organised, set yourself a time limit for each topic, the added deadline will help you make the most of the time. However, don’t forget to give yourself a break too! I am guilty myself of picking up my guitar and losing hours at a time, but taking a break rests your hands and more importantly your ears. It will help you progress more quickly if you’re not fatigued while you’re playing. 

Another technique I’ve found invaluable is recording myself while I play. Listening back to yourself gives you extra perspective on how your playing is sounding and an impression of what people will be hearing when you’re shredding out. This way you can check your tone, identify bits you want to try again and hear everything you missed while you were in the moment. You don’t need to have a recording setup to do this either, using your phone or laptop webcam can work just as well. 

Try not to emulate other people too much

Every guitarist has their favourite artists. The ones who we will spend hours and hours trying to sound like by playing their solos and learning their riffs. But this in itself can make our own soloing sound familiar and sometimes, even cliché! Sometimes songs are begging for a bluesy B.B King inspired solo or some pentatonic whaling from the likes of Slash, but I think its important to put your own stamp on it. These guys are iconic because they all found their own individual style of playing and you should too. Trust your instincts more, find and write your own licks and ideas in a style that suits your playing. Not only will this make your playing sound unique, it will give you a way of creating your own melodies instead of being stuck around other peoples.  

Confidence is key…

and I think this is the crux of it. It’s easy to get comfortable with what you know. Using tried and tested patterns and familiar melodies is a good way to feel safe that you are going to nail the solo. But the main thing I have found, is that practicing all of the things above has given me the confidence to push the boundaries, which has made my playing a lot more intentional, creative and thoughtful. I found this to be a common phase that a lot of guitarists go through and can be a hard one to break out of, but with focused practice and some confidence the results can be rewarding!

How to get better at improvising guitar

London Guitar Tuition Guitar Tutors

London Guitar Tuition

LOVE LIVE LEARN GUITAR

London Guitar Academy’s success has been fueled by an ever increasing number of London guitar players who want a place where they can go to connect and be MOTIVATED, INSPIRED, ENCOURAGED and EDUCATED to pursue personal goals and passions. Heres why……The guitar is full of wonder & joy and for guitarists it becomes the soundtrack to our lives! So many great songs have been written utilising the guitars unparalleled  melodic & rhythmic capabilities.

London Guitar Tuition

London Guitar Tuition

With so may possibilities for chord patterns or punchy riffs the journey to master the guitar is literally never ending. During our lessons we try an emphasise musicianship as well as technical accomplishment to ensure London Guitar Academy pupils  have the ultimate learning.  guitar, singing, or both, it’s important to realize how music speaks through you, to play to your strengths, yet acknowledge your weaknesses and build from there.  London Guitar Tuition can’t wait to share our passion and knowledge to help you learn to sing, play guitar, or write songs! With a focus on playing the guitar, you’ll start strumming and singing from day one. All styles and genres of music are covered — from traditional to modern — building up an accessible repertoire of songs and skills.

London Guitar Academy offers a variety of guitar classes that will get you up and strumming in no time! Guitar Lessons in London : Guitar Tuition London. 

London Guitar Tutors Guitar Lessons London are  recognized for being a master musicians and teachers with an enthusiastic and joyful passion for playing and for teaching all ages, all...

Guitar Hub Electric Guitar Lessons Guitar Hub's guitar instructors all have the same goal in mind and that is to provide the highest quality education in a fun, energetic and welcoming environment.  Our focus will be on playing a song by the end of each set of...

Gibson Goldtop Traditional Les Paul

Repair log – 2009 Gibson Goldtop Traditional Les Paul SN 00939030, made Nashville USA. Owner – James Stratton, London Guitar Academy, 07957 230354, info@londonguitaracademy.com Current value range - £1,104 to £1,499 in excellent condition (but with original...

Counting Rhythm

Back to Basics: Counting Rhythm Hey guys, Dan here again with another mind-boggling article for y’all to wrap your ears/eyes/whatever around. Up to now, I’ve mostly done either gear based posts, or intermediate to advanced music stuff and something has occurred to me;...

Guitar Lessons Bounds Green

 Bounds Green Guitar Lessons Guitar Lessons in Bounds Green we offer private one-on-one lessons custom-tailored to the needs and goals of the individual student. Playing the guitar is a great hobby that can bring you many years of enjoyment. We guide you along your journey...

East Finchley Guitar Lessons Guitar Lessons in East Finchley with friendly, professional local guitar teachers London Guitar Academy. We teach all ages and are very experienced at teaching total beginners and making the great musicians and guitarists. Our lessons are often the...

Guitar Lessons Bounds Green

Guitar Lessons In Brentford Learn to play guitar the smart way with super friendly professional tuition at our West London studio or via home visit in Brentford. We provide quality music tuition and coaching, helping students of all abilities to...

Guitar Lessons Bounds Green

Guitar Lessons Southfields London Here at Guitar Lessons Southfields we love teaching the guitar. We have loads of students thought South London and hope very much that you will be joining us for guitar Lessons. Our tuition will be custom made for you teaching you all the...

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Guitar Lessons Wandsworth London Guitar Lessons Wandsworth. If you're looking for the most conscientious, friendly, musical guitar teachers in London luckily you're absolutely in the right place. Our lessons focus giving you the very best chance possible of becoming a great...

Guitar Tuition London

Guitar Tuition London

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Haringay Crouch End Finsbury Park Islington Guitar Lessons

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London Guitar Academy’s Sean Kelly takes care of home visit guitar lessons for us in North London. Sean covers Archway, Haringay, Crouch End, Finsbury Park, Islington and Hackney.

Guitar Lessons Haringay Crouch End Finsbury Park Islington

Guitar Lessons Haringay Crouch End Finsbury Park Islington

Sean’s a professional, experienced, enthusiastic and versatile guitar  teacher. We guarantee brilliant first class guitar lessons that are scheduled and taught specifically for your personal requirements. Specialist Private Guitar Lessons for beginners who need the first and basic skills to really start playing guitar. From tuning and holding a guitar.
The most modern and understandable guitar program to play a song! Home visit guitar lessons all over North London including Crouch End, Finsbury Park, Islington, Archway, Haringay and Muswell Hill!

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Haringay Crouch End Finsbury Park Islington Guitar Lessons

 

Jam Session

London Jam Session

Last night we gathered at Hugo’s for another fantastic evening of music, the third in our series of acoustic sessions. This time we took over the main room and were a little less unplugged than usual with the red light of a vintage Fender amp shining brightly from the stage! 

 

Hugh Burns led the session with his out-of-this-world-guitar playing and the lineup included a few new faces and instruments, among which were a few more guitars, harmonicas, trumpet and vocals. 

 Jamming

The repertoire bounced back and forth between between jazz standards like Satin Doll, Blue Bossa and Autumn Leaves, some Joni Mitchell, Eagles and Van Morrison and bluegrass tunes like John Whiskey Before Breakfast, all rounded off by a free flowing blues jam as an encore. 

 

The audience was enthusiastic enough to ask us to make our sessions into a regular event they can put in their diaries so watch this space for details! Thank you to Terry Relph-Knight for the photos.

Jam Night

Jam Night

 
Keep on rocking (and jazzing and folking),
 
The London Guitar Academy

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Guitar Lessons London have a fun and friendly teaching style. With years of guitar playing and teaching experience. London Guitar Academy approach to teaching centres on initially picking out the areas of technique and musical knowledge that are most important to achieving your aims, and gradually building up your ability with those in mind.

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London Guitar Academy can teach you any style of guitar that you want to learn, and our primary specialist areas are: Rock, Funk, Folk, Gypsy Jazz, Trip-Hop, Ska and Reggae.

Ollie, London 2015 –

“As someone who’s played acoustic guitar for a few years, I
was keen to widen my range and learn the classical style. Ben was patient & concise in introducing me to this new technique, pitching the lessons at just the right level to complement my ability. I found that I improved quickly, which is testament to Ben’s fun and engaging tuition. He’s a highly skilled player and teacher who I’ll definitely use again when I return to the UK!”

Nadene, London 2015 –

“Ben has made guitar lessons fun, and it is something our son looks forward to doing each week. There is the right mix of lauhging and teaching. Ben has kept the lessons interesting and encouraging, and he inspires our son to actually want to practice! Our son said, “he is the greatest teacher I’ve ever had”. We are really pleased and highly recommend Ben”

Greenwich guitar tutors and Greenwich guitar lessons

 

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Deptford,Blackheath,St Johns,Westcombe Park,New Cross,Lewisham,Kidbrooke,Charlton,Peckham,Nunhead,Catford,Woolwich

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guitar lessons in Greenwich, London  

London Guitar Tutors Guitar Lessons London are  recognized for being a master musicians and teachers with an enthusiastic and joyful passion for playing and for teaching all ages, all...

Guitar Hub Electric Guitar Lessons Guitar Hub's guitar instructors all have the same goal in mind and that is to provide the highest quality education in a fun, energetic and welcoming environment.  Our focus will be on playing a song by the end of each set of...

Gibson Goldtop Traditional Les Paul

Repair log – 2009 Gibson Goldtop Traditional Les Paul SN 00939030, made Nashville USA. Owner – James Stratton, London Guitar Academy, 07957 230354, info@londonguitaracademy.com Current value range - £1,104 to £1,499 in excellent condition (but with original...

Counting Rhythm

Back to Basics: Counting Rhythm Hey guys, Dan here again with another mind-boggling article for y’all to wrap your ears/eyes/whatever around. Up to now, I’ve mostly done either gear based posts, or intermediate to advanced music stuff and something has occurred to me;...

Guitar Lessons Bounds Green

 Bounds Green Guitar Lessons Guitar Lessons in Bounds Green we offer private one-on-one lessons custom-tailored to the needs and goals of the individual student. Playing the guitar is a great hobby that can bring you many years of enjoyment. We guide you along your journey...

East Finchley Guitar Lessons Guitar Lessons in East Finchley with friendly, professional local guitar teachers London Guitar Academy. We teach all ages and are very experienced at teaching total beginners and making the great musicians and guitarists. Our lessons are often the...

GUITAR LESSONS LONDON Acoustic Electric Ukulele Songwriting & Bass

GUITAR LESSONS LONDON  London’s Finest Guitar Lessons! Always the caring, encouraging, and enthusiastic guitar teachers, London Guitar Academy happily teach all levels of students; from the total beginner to the working professional guitarist looking to improve.

Emphasising all important aspects of musicianship for guitarists, including:
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  • lead soloing in any style
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  • mastering scales and arpeggios
  • rhythm
  • reading music
  • accompaniment skills
  • transcribing music
  • improving your singing
  • how to practice

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Guitar Lessons London | rock pop jazz funk blues folk classical songwriting

Guitar Lessons London | rock, pop, jazz, funk, blues, folk, classical, songwriting 

At the Guitar Lessons London, our goal is to make music lessons fun and exhilarating for our students, while still providing a structured learning approach that’s necessary to achieve tangible results and help our students realise their musical dreams.

We specialise in guitar instruction with lessons customised to meet the individual needs of each student – from beginner guitarists to advanced.Guitar Lessons London love teaching and are delighted to be providing you with brilliant Guitar Lessons in London!

Electric & Acoustic Guitar

Private Lessons in all guitar styles
In-Home Lessons or at our studios in Greater London,
Certified Teachers : An outstanding team of Certified Teachers
Annual concerts and exciting festivals for our students around London
Student Rates for lessons and instruments
Fun, personalised programs for children, teens & adult beginners
Exams & Certificates: Rock School RGT
CCSE & University Preparation
Advanced Career Development
Professional Studio Recordings

The London Guitar Academy offers innovative and diverse programs for students of all ages, levels and backgrounds in Rock, Folk, Blues, Classical, Pop, Jazz, Funk, World music and much much more. Music lessons are available Across London & at our music schools, at our teaching studios, or at your home.Professional Guitar Teachers
All styles coveredAll ages welcomeBeginners to Advanced

Techniques

Depending on the age of the student, beginners will learn basic notes in the open position of the guitar or basic chords at the beginning of their lessons. Later on, the lessons cover scales, chords, barre chords, alternate picking, legato technique, sweep picking, tapping, improvising, compositionand many other areas of the guitar. Many of our students will record themselves along to backing tracks or with their teacher to learn the actual studio experience of a guitarist.

Guitar Lessons London:

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Bromley,Croydon,Ealing,Enfield,Haringey,Harrow,Havering,Hillingdon,Hounslow,Kingston upon Thames,Merton,Newham,Redbridge,Richmond upon Thames,Sutton,Waltham Forest

Guitar Teachers, based in Central London, offering Lessons and Tuition in Blues, Rock, Funk, Country, Slide and Jazz, Acoustic and Electric –

London Guitar Lessons Electric, Acoustic and Classical Guitar Tutor. Guitar Lessons in Queens Park, Kensal Rise, Kilburn  Notting Hill, Portobello, Ladbroke Grove, Kensington, Maida Vale, St Johns Wood, Bayswater, Latimer Road, Queensway, Holland Park  – Guitar Lessons in the comfort  Home in Central London .Electric, Acoustic and Classical Guitar for Beginners to Advanced.

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Rock Guitar Lessons | Electric Guitar Lessons | London Guitar Lessons

 Rock Guitar Lessons | Electric Guitar Lessons | London Guitar Lessons

 Guitar Techniques,Blues Folk Pop Funk Rock Classic Rock Indie,Tapping,Shredding,Vibrato,Hammer Ons and Pull Offs,Sweep Picking,Pinch Harmonics,How to Read Guitar Tab,Guitar Tips and Secrets,How to Buy Guitar Gear 

 

 

 

Major Scale | Guitar Lessons London | Music Theory for Guitar

Major Scale | Guitar Lessons London | Music Theory for Guitar

Major Scale | Guitar Lessons London | Music Theory for Guitar during your evolution as a lead guitarist, it becomes more and more important to learn to solo in more than one position. If, for example, you’re soloing in the key of C major, and you only feel comfortable playing in the few frets surrounding the eighth fret, then you’re limiting yourself unnecessarily.

The Major Scale is the most important scale of all.
All modes are derived from this scale. Modes are altered scales. In other words, you make some notes sharp or flat. Each mode like the major scale has a quality. The major scale‘s quality is happy and upbeat. These qualities are more prevalent when you integrate the chords which are shown above into your playing. In the chart below you will see that I have marked off patterns. The major scale is the cornerstone of all western harmony. It has seven notes plus the octave in practice,  Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti and Do.

There are 5 patterns .

Description: This scale is used as base scale from which other modes and scales come from.
Quality: Happy or Upbeat quality
Musical Styles: Rock, Country, Jazz, Fusion
Chords: Major, Major Sevenths, Major Ninths, Elevenths
Intervals: (W – Whole Step, H – Half Step)
Root -2-3-4-5-6-7-Octave
W-W-H-W-W-W-H

The scale formula for the major scale must be memorised, as you will use it often to work out chord tones. The formula describes the interval distances between each note of the scale.

T ^ T ^ S ^ T ^ T ^ T ^ S 
(T=Tone, S= Semitone)

The scale shapes is movable. That just means that you can move your starting note anywhere on the 6th string. Just remember whatever note you start on will be the root note of that major scale. If you move this scale to where you are starting on the A note on the 5th fret of the 6th string you would be playing an A major scale.

To play each scale on the guitar, begin with the correct fret on the first string (the top string as you hold the guitar, the low E string), which is as follows:

  • Openstring: E
  • 1st fret: F
  • 2nd fret: F#/Gb
  • 3rd fret: G
  • 4th fret: G#/Ab
  • 5th fret: A
  • 6th fret: A#/Bb
  • 7th fret: B
  • 8th fret: C
  • 9th fret: C#/Db
  • 10th fret: D
  • 11th fret: D#/Eb
  • 12th fret: E

London Guitar Academy

The London Guitar Academy is London’s only dedicated Rock Pop and Blues guitar school specialising in one to one guitar tuition in either electric or acoustic guitar.

Each lesson is tailored to suit each students individual taste and ability; offering a fresh and innovative approach to learning the guitar.

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