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  1. #1
    The_Lexx's Avatar Member
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    Where to after the minor Pentatonic?

    Hi members,

    I would like some advice from the seasoned guitarist out there as I feel i'm stuck in a beginner rut. I think the 2 problems i have are:

    1) I only know the 5 Minor Pentatonic scale shapes and how to move them to work in a Major key.
    2) I do not have any type of lick vocabulary.

    I believe this has led me to having the issue that ALL my solo's sound very blues and bend heavy and don't suit fast modern Rock.

    I am really wanting to move to the next stage of being able to solo over progressive rock / hard rock and metal and am hoping you guys could point me in the right direction

    I think at a basic level I need advice with

    a) What scale should I learn next?
    b) What licks do you recommend to start building my vocabulary?

    But I may be way off track.


    I await your wisdom, Masters.
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  2. #2
    Resource-wise, I can suggest "Guitar Aerobics" for a good lick program (hehe), and the "Guitar Fretboard Workbook" for learning your way around the fretboard. I got quite a mileage out of those two books.
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  3. #3
    Gold_Jim's Avatar Senior Member
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    There are literally hundreds of scales and all of them work in every genre. It's not necessarily the scale, but your style of using it. Take the pentatonic minor and major scales. That's the Metallica songbook right there. It also works for Guns and Roses. What you want to learn are the modes. What's a mode you ask? A mode is the movement of the scale so that you start in another position. Most people, when they start to solo in the beginning, start with the first note at the root. They also tend to run the scale in a linear fashion (e.g. 1-b3-4-5-dom7-octave). They also tend to play vertically rather than horizontally (in reference to the neck), so solos sound dull and repetitive. Let's start with the first half, how do you change where you start.

    I won't name all of the modes, but there are seven. It's really the same set of notes, but you begin in another place. For example, if I'm playing Am, I'm really playing C major. That's a relative scale. The reason most guitar instructions use Am as an example is two fold. (1) All open notes can be used and (2) all white keys on a keyboard can be applied. That way, you can play along with a band and no one has to be worried about wrong notes, and beginning keyboard players learn white keys first (at least they did when I was young). So let's say you're going to solo in Am, but you start your solo on a C. The notes of Am (natural) are A B C D E F G. This is the same as the C major scale: C D E F G A B only we start in a new location. Therefore, Am natural is also known as A Aeolian or the C major scale beginning with the 6th note. Each scale has it's own set of notes (e.g. A major is A - B - C# - D - E - F# - G# - A). As you see, it can get a little confusing when listing the notes, so it's better to look at intervals or the distance between notes. Why? Because of two fold. (1) most people don't have perfect pitch, but (2) most people can hear intervals. Interval training is the best ear training you can use, because it allows you to solo in any key, and you can apply your knowledge of scales and modes to anything you hear.

    The modes are Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian respective to the note on which you start in a scale (e.g. if you begin on the 2nd, then you are in Phrygian). You'll often read, something like "this solo is in A Aoelian." and you go "???" So if we look at the Aoelian of C for instance, this mode starts on A. Ok, so we have a starting note. We also know that the mode contains A B C D E F G. Pretty easy. So what are our intervals? Well, A to B is a whole note, B to C is a half, C to D is a whole, D to E is a whole, E to F is a half, F to G is a whole, and G to the octave is a whole. That means that the mode can be read as WHWWHWW. Now we can apply that to any scale and play within that mode. In metal music, this is a poplar mode as are Phrygian, Lydian, and Mixolydian. As confusing and boring as this might sound, you only have to memorize 7 modes and their names.

    You might ask, "why?". Well, music would be boring (as you can see as you progress) to both the listener and the player if we stuck to a set of rules and this set of rules was hard and fast. This is your best starting point because it gives you a new set of notes to use. Most of the time, we're used to a solo starting at the I (one) chord. Actually, a lot of solos start before that. Also, what do you do when the chord changes? Do you keep playing Am over D? What about E? What if the song modulates (changes key) to B? What's my IV and V chords?

    Another reason I recommend this is because you should learn to play up and down the neck. You might have all of the pentatonic shapes memorized, but are you using them all? A good practice for this is to play 3 notes in one position, then shift, then play 3, then shift... all the way up and back down the neck. Play this in both and ascending and descending pattern in both directions. In other words, don't always start on the low strings near the nut and the high strings at the body. Alternate. Another good practice is to play through a scale, but play the first three notes (I-bIII-IV) then the next 3 notes (bIII-IV-V) and so on. Do this in each of your positions. You can also learn to interleave two fret positions by skipping, in other words, start playing at the open position, then slide into the 5th position, then into the 3rd, then up to the 7th. Keep on your toes and think about what you're doing. How? Well, for example, if you're playing in A, you can play the open A, then grab the C note and slide it up to the D all on the A string, and now you're playing in the 5 position. Play a lick there, then bring it down to the 3rd position and then slide up to the 7th in a similar fashion. Add notes in the key that aren't in the minor pentatonic. The flat 5th (blues scale) or the 7th. Most rock and metal music use power chords, so you can interleave the major and minor notes and no one will notice.

    There are tons of books that will show you how to play fast, but there's not trick beyond this: play it slow with good timing (metronome if you need) and speed it up. Don't speed it up until you can play perfectly and articulately (without extraneous sounds). That's really the key. There are also tons of great books of rock licks, and if you learn to play them, then I suggest moving them around the neck into various keys. You'll find that you're suddenly playing another song you know, only with the same notes. Get a decent app that can slow down the notes without making them sound like your head is in a washing machine. Don't be shocked when you slow down your favorite metal song and find out that the guy or gal is just playing blues stuff, only really saturated and really fast.

    Lastly, play without all the effects. Play clean, not super distorted. That means turn up LOUD, but leave out the fuzz box and all that crap. You'd be surprised at how crappy some guys play, they just hide under tons of distortion and delay. It's like they say, "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball." But seriously, if you can play clean and articulately, you'll be able to play better in the end.

    If you've got some time, watch this. You'll see a lot of what I'm talking about. I bow to the Satch!



    Edited to add. Watch the guy play that solo, and you'll think, "wow! that guy's incredible, what can he learn?" Then watch what Satriani gives him for pointers and you'll see how his playing could sound a lot more inspirational and gets more feel.
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  4. #4
    I'm facing a similar issue that I can comfortably play 5 Minor Pentatonic scale shapes but feel like I lack lick "vocabulary" so what I've done recently is a buy a couple of courses from these guys

    https://truefire.com/search.html?q=rock&nav=1

    Just to be clear I have no affiliation I just like their stuff, I would prefer it if I could buy this kind of learning content inside Rocksmith but until that day arrives the Truefire courses offer a video over view, powertab so you can slow it down and learn it and then jam tracks to play on top of.

    I'm more interested in blues so I've picked up their "Solo Factory: Texas Blues" it's a nice format in that it shows you a whole bunch of licks, for each one explains where it would work in a blues progression, then shows you how to fit the licks together to make a solo.

    Though to be fair I've only learned/mastered one solo so far so maybe I should come back when I've done the whole thing and give my verdict then

    I'm pretty sure if you invested the time and effort you could get similar content from you tube, but I'm impatient and I like everything provided as one package
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  5. #5
    The_Lexx's Avatar Member
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    Wow. It's not everyday you realise you're a shape player and you actually have no idea about music. I think after all these years I need to invest time in theory. How am I going to master a tool if I don't understand how and why?

    Thanks for the detailed responses, although not what I wanted to hear, it's what I needed to hear. I need to change my thinking from today regarding theory.

    @rsratnip - I do need to know the notes of the frettboard off the top of my head,
    @PRS_Rocker - I need to understand how chords are created and free myself up to create them anywhere I can

    Thanks guys. Time to begin learning.
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  6. #6
    Gold_Jim's Avatar Senior Member
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    Good. the realization that you need to be able to spell a chord will open you up to not only being able to use another tool (arpeggios), but you will be able to play chord shapes all over the neck as well. For example, most people play the cowboy chord G, right? Well, let's spell the notes out from low to high. G - B - D - G - B - G. Another way to play the G chord open is G - B - D - G - D - G. A major chord is actually root - 3rd - 5th, so in reality, the G chord could be just played on the 3 low strings G (root) - B (3rd) and D (5th). What if you wanted the G minor? Well, just drop the 3rd one fret to the flat 3rd. so now just move your finger from the 2nd fret of the A string to the first and play G - Bb - D. Done! Play those notes and add a C (4th) and F (flat or dominant 7) and you can now play a solo over G.

    Where else to play the chord? Well, you can always look for places where you can play the notes in order or you can just play those three notes. For example, you can play the chord upside down (3rd - 5th - root). This is known as the first inversion. play D - B - G where the lowest note is the 3rd. You can also play the 2nd inversion where the 5th is at the bottom. Where might I do this? Well, look at the top (highest in tone) three strings of a G major barre chord. 4th fret of the G string (B note), 3rd fret of the B string (D) and 3rd fret of the E string (G). There is a 3rd inversion. This is where you play a 7th and the 7th is on the bottom.

    You can also move a G chord by playing the G at the 5th fret of the D string. Now the 7th fret of the G string is D and open B. Find different combinations, then build your solos around it. Do this with other chords and see how you can go from chord to chord in these new locations. For example, try going G - C - D in a few places. If you can build the chords, you can solo over them, even if all you use are the chord tones.
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  7. #7
    The_Lexx's Avatar Member
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    Thanks PRS_Rocker. Much appreciated.

    I've booked myself in for a 5 week course on the Fundamentals of Music Theory. I'm nervous already!
    I also went down to my local music store this morning and pick up a introduction to music book. It's more geared at Rock but it was discussing straight off the bat what Joe Satriani was saying to the guy in the vid above.

    Cheers.
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  8. #8
    MAng0r3's Avatar Senior Member
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    Natural way to go Minor scales>Natural>Harmonic>melodic and mix it up with what you already know (minor pentatonics) then modes Dorian and phrygian.....sure going all in will be overwhelming so i think the mixing up solution would be more easy...falling back to minor pentatonics or like fading to it and back to whatever minor scales you want to learn as guthrie Govan is teaching.
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  9. #9
    Gold_Jim's Avatar Senior Member
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    Most of the popular solos you can think of are not all that difficult if you look at them in their parts, slow them down and learn them piece by piece. It's also important to listen in context, in other words, what is the band doing at the time, where did you come from and where are you going. As you play certain artists, you'll find that there are certain licks and transitions that they use relatively consistently. Don't let modes seem difficult. They are just a scale starting in a place other than the root. They are used so that you can play in a key yet start on a different note.

    What can make things interesting is to play the same notes differently. In other words, create a little riff of maybe 3 to 5 notes then find different ways (bends, slides, hammers, pulls) of getting back and forth, never using the same way twice too closely together. Then it sounds repetitive, reiterative, repetitious.
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  10. #10
    shikamaru-'s Avatar Senior Member
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    Well, expressivity is not just about notes, it’s not even about the order you play them, you also need to find ways to link them together so it tells something. For instance, if you go up and down the neck as PRS suggested, you’ve got opportunities to add slides. You can play a note straight or you can apply vibrato to it, or you can exaggerate that vibrato and oscillate between the note and the note a half step or a whole step above. You can play legato or pick every single note, mix both. You can palm mute the note, add dead notes that have no particular pitch but that will have a percussive effect to build a rhythm. You can alternate between quarter, 8th, 16th notes. You can add natural harmonics, pinch harmonics… From there it’s easy to go from bluesy to metal,

    If you already know your pentatonic scales, then you can try those things. From there you can easily add notes that aren’t in the pentatonic scale. None of them would be wrong, it would just give a different taste to what you’re playing. From there it’s easy to go from bluesy to funky.

    Play with your dynamics, pick a few notes lightly, and emphasize one particular note by getting harder into the string.

    You could almost play a whole song with just one note, and play it differently every time.

    See this:
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