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mapleleaf14
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:44 am   Reply with quoteBack to top

So, I've realized I've basically been playing the same thing for years. Always soloing in the pentatonic scale and never really moving away from that (at least intentionally) and it's really starting to bother me.

I pick up a guitar and either play the same licks, or when trying something new I either learn a tiny bit without learning say the whole song I'll learn just one part our something, or I get frustrated and revert back to the same old thing.

Maybe I'm just tackling stuff out of my league. I used to play alot when I was younger and then was away from playing for several years and have just recently came back to it. Played stuff like "Fly By Night"/Rush, "Shock Me"/Kiss, "Living After Midnight"/Priest, and mainly alot of original tunes (which didn't help cuz we played our own material so obviously didn't go too far out of our comfort zone) so I've never been a shedder, but now that I've returned to guitar playing and purchased a new Carvin and a new combo amp to play it thru, I want to justify it!

Being an "adult" now and doing regular life stuff, I don't have hours a day to practice, I'm looking at maybe an hour in the evening, maybe 3-4 hours on the weekends, so I am honestly not looking to become Vai by next year, but I really want to just basically improve my ask around playing...better "soloing", chords not as sloppy, etc.

Has anyone out there experienced this sort of rut and/or have tips or advice?!?

I know everybody says to just "play more, man", but I just end up playing the same tired [-X!
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Bundy
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:05 am   Reply with quoteBack to top

You have to force yourself out of that rut. Some suggestions that work for me:

*Learn a mode, say... Mixolydian. Thrown on some tunes or jam tracks and play licks using ONLY that scale everywhere on the neck. Try single position fingerings and three-note-per-string fingerings.

*Neck jumps. Play a lick in third position low on the neck, then play "call/answer" by jumping 12 frets higher for the same lick. Even single notes can be fun as you jump up an octave on the same string.

*Single string workouts. Similar to suggestion #1, learn a scale on a single string and apply various techniques such as slides, hammer-ons/pull-offs, and tapping while staying in key on that one string. Throw in the "neck jump" idea and you can cover a lot of fretboard.

*I'm a big fan of chord inversions, simply because I can't stand every guitarist in one band playing cowboy chord G-C-D or the barre chord counterparts. Learn to play those same chords anywhere on the neck, and once you know that you'll find scale fingerings within that chord voicing which can open doors...

*I love pentatonics too, but I can't play them in the traditional style of Blues or Rock like everyone else. I take fragments of those licks and bastardize them to my style and goose the attitude up a notch or two.

*Improvise! Stick with those jam tracks and force yourself to play "outside the box."

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Last edited by Bundy on Tue May 15, 2012 2:06 am; edited 1 time in total
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SlingBass
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:41 am   Reply with quoteBack to top

Like Bundy says - one has to start somewhere, and he extended a helping hand

It takes brass to publicly admit one's hit their wall...it's a good start, and I commend you for it Applause

We ALL have to push ourselves. There are also varied sorts of DVD's, books, and lessons available to assist you along with your friends. Baby steps taken one day at a time will allow you to rise closer to where you wish to be. The irony, of course, is the more you know - the more you understand what you don't know

I call it the thirst that can never be quenched. Good fortune in your journey Wink

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NoCents
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:16 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

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BluesPicker
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:31 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

Some guys live happily ever-after in the pentatonic scale. I guess I'm kinda one of them, even though I didn't know that's what it was until some older guy (yes, even older than me) complimented me on my style of playing and blurted out what it was. Pretty funny, when you consider I've been at this for more than 45 years, but I never learned to read music, either. It's all "feel".

Having said that, I really don't do just the one thing. I have learned to play off of that and improvise and to vary things inside and outside of that. Bundy and the guys above are offering you some great advice, especially in light of where your interests are and where you want to go. I'm a blues guy so what I do works for me, and I'd be lost in all of that other stuff.

Where it comes together for me and where I find myself going into uncharted territory and stretching out is when I practice with my band. If you don't have a band but have some buddies you like to jam with, do it as often as you can. All that energy and stuff can really propel you and your playing style and technique forward more so than sitting in a room noodling around on your own.

It's about feeding off each other in a "live" jam environment. I can't recommend it highly enough. I'm 62, but feel like I'm playing with all the hot piss and vinegar of a 16-year-old when I'm doing my thing with my band, like last night. Two teens I know stopped by -- both play metal and stuff, and are great guitarists. They were amazed (in a good way) at what a bunch of old farts could do. Everybody feels like they hit the wall at some time, so that's normal. I've always learned in spurts -- a rush of new thing, then nothing for a while. It will come.
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sirmyghin
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:40 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

BluesPicker wrote:
Some guys live happily ever-after in the pentatonic scale.


Well normally we would call them blues players, and you do have blues in your name Twisted

Bundy has the gist of it, his love of chord inversions is probably a sort of intuitive voice leading. Voice leading was used a lot in classical music, and creates polyphony, on multiple voices. Most modern music in monophonic, 1 voice, that is your static bar/cowboy chords moved around as need be always voice R-5-R-3 and so on. I recommend learning theory to help you break down some bariers that could have strong mental portions.

A book I am leeching ideas from on different playing and whatnot is Petruccis Wild Stringdom, he talks about stuff like using lydian scales / dorian flavours etc to tired old riffs, and a bunch of other stuff. It is a lot to absorb and will keep most players busy for a while.

The pentatonic does have its uses, for odd licks not exclusively. Or some modal type stuff, for example Em pentatonic over Am, the difference is the #6 relative to Am. Some players do this kind of stuff intrinsically, others don't. Gatton when asked why his solos were so interesting would say "I play them all in the wrong keys". He was doing something along these lines.
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BluesPicker
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 6:29 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

sirmyghin wrote:
The pentatonic does have its uses, for odd licks not exclusively. Or some modal type stuff, for example Em pentatonic over Am, the difference is the #6 relative to Am. Some players do this kind of stuff intrinsically, others don't. Gatton when asked why his solos were so interesting would say "I play them all in the wrong keys". He was doing something along these lines.


Sounds like and Mr. Gatton might have something in common. I just do "it", whatever "it" is, and don't have a clue as to what "it" is that I'm doing.

Paul
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sirmyghin
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:15 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

BluesPicker wrote:

Sounds like and Mr. Gatton might have something in common. I just do "it", whatever "it" is, and don't have a clue as to what "it" is that I'm doing.

Paul


I do a bit of both, I jam a lot off the cuff, but I also compose in particular modes and using ideas. My current piece begins in E lydian, modulates to B major (parallel key, same notes) has some fun, then cuts back. Mostly through the use of what are called 'secondary dominant chords', which is a fancy way of saying using the dominant (5) chord of the respective chord you want to stop on.

An example would be Autumn Leaves, at least Joseph Kosma's arrangement where everything appears to be a standard progression in Bb, until a D7 comes up and the final chord is a Gm. D is the 5 of G, and the D7 chord contains a tritone due to the dominant 7th so it resolves nicely to G, in this case Gm a chord in the key of Bb and then the head ends (the B ends the same). A D minor would have worked, but it wouldn't of been nearly as strong, and would allow you to carry past the G a little easier comparatively. Give it a shot.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:21 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

write something. find an inspiration, a pain, a passion and create your something better than anybody you know how. remember, your pallet it momentarily what youve made of it as well as a given gift. if you forget anything about being a musician over time its certainly not emotion. find a topic, set a course and use the gift you own right to develop this. don't forget who got you here (influences) as that sounds always within. and if you struggle with the solo bits, i know a guitarist in this very room that will mail you his parts. lol...mirror effect Cool
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Bundy
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:08 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

Absolutely nothing wrong with pentatonic scales! I just happen to be always hungry, and how many notes can I add to a pent minor to get the Aeolian mode (natural minor)?

Uh... not many at all. Wink

Another thing I do to "screw up" (LOL!) pentatonic minor scales is to add chromatic passing tones between the 4th and 5th, and the b7 and octave. You can get a cool "rolling flow" happening like this when ascending or descending.

I spent decades playing by ear and by feel before I decided I needed to know what the heck I was doing. I wanted to know why it is wrong to play a D major scale (Ionian mode) over the song "Sweet Home Alabama" even though I hated the tune anyway. Years of self-study and research gave me the answers and I continue to soak the theory stuff up like a sponge. This old dawg will only stop learning new tricks when he stops breathin'.

I strongly urge you guys to download that .rar file of backing tracks in my first post. It's my upload, and it's a versatile mix of genres aimed to give you something to practice soloing over. There's a tune for everyone in this collection.

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Guitardan
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:55 am   Reply with quoteBack to top

Bundy,

What app does the .rar file need?
Is this a zipped file of sorts?

Thx !

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lowdown
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:37 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

As I read the OP, it sounded very familiar. I have feelings quite similar. I've been playing bass for 30+ years and while I can play Geddy Lee, Billy Sheehan and Chris Squire (quite sloppily at times I must admit), what I cannot play is me. I'm 99% cover tunes and worship tunes at my church and I'm totally lost and barely wing it the 1% of the time I have to ad lib. Stick me with a group of guys to play a standard blues in Bb, etc. and I'm totally lost.

For years I've tried different things - purchased some books, but after a week or two, I get bored with them; checked out some online videos and haven't found much to help me. Like you, I have a job and a family life and don't have a lot of time to put into it, but I feel very stagnant. I finally realized that I'm very fortunate to work on a university campus, so I inquired into their music program. This coming Thursday, I'm going to take my very first bass lesson ever with a very well-seasoned jazz bass performer/instructor.

I feel I'm very fortunate to be able to walk across campus for my lunch hour once a week for a lesson and wonder why I didn't think about this years ago. But I'm wondering if perhaps something like this might be available for you? You state you might have an hour a night. Have you thought of taking lessons? Perhaps you could get hooked up with a local college or even music store (I know finding decent instructors in stores is hit or miss) and use one of those hours weekly for a lesson. If you are anything like me, having deadlines and specific pieces or exercises that you HAVE to learn, it takes a lot of the discipline issue out of the question. I won't have to rely on my own discipline to continue to learn out of a book or off of a video, but will be accountable to another human being. It might also help with figuring out which direction to take you away from your rut and will definitely force you to play and put into practice something other than your pentatonic scales and songs.
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Bundy
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 5:52 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

Guitardan wrote:
Bundy,

What app does the .rar file need?
Is this a zipped file of sorts?

Thx !


It is a zipped file that can be opened with WinRAR, 7-Zip, or any app that will open a .rar file. There should be 20 different backing tracks in the file.

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Brian D
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:08 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

Use a different guitar. I find that I can create something when I have a different instrument in my hands. Just because it is... different.

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Bundy
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:53 am   Reply with quoteBack to top

Brian D wrote:
Use a different guitar. I find that I can create something when I have a different instrument in my hands. Just because it is... different.


Great idea. Can I borrow that Cobalt?! Wink Mr. Green

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ElfDude
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:09 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

I've never been an awesome shredder and don't really aspire to be one. I think I've found my niche playing rhythm guitar, keyboards, and doing a lot of singing in a band that plays old crowd pleasers.
And doing the occasional bit of home recording.
Happy stuff.

Of course I continue to improve over time. It's hard to play live with other people regularly for years and not get better. Sense of rhythm improves. New chords are learned. Songs that were once challenging become easier. Other subtle things that are hard to put your finger on.

Yeah, playing in a band is good. Cool

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sirmyghin
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:50 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

lowdown wrote:
As I read the OP, it sounded very familiar. I have feelings quite similar. I've been playing bass for 30+ years and while I can play Geddy Lee, Billy Sheehan and Chris Squire (quite sloppily at times I must admit), what I cannot play is me. I'm 99% cover tunes and worship tunes at my church and I'm totally lost and barely wing it the 1% of the time I have to ad lib. Stick me with a group of guys to play a standard blues in Bb, etc. and I'm totally lost..


Good luck with the lessons dude, my advice to being 'you' is lookin at all that stuff you have learned over the years, but better. Like Bundy says, understand it. Once you understand why those notes are what is going done, it is easier to apply the technique as you will not just be mimicing anymore. Then you can feel free to use notes you feel might be more applicable or you prefer, without losing the song in general. .



I missed that RAR, downloading it now Bundy, Jam tracks are always fantastic. I have a weekly jam buddy and we just get together and jam chord progressions and improv and the like. It is always great, but it makes me want a loop pedal so I can do it solo.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:06 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

Several excellent points and thoughts have been expressed in this thread so far. Here's my Bundified recap:

Playing in a band IS good! My take on that is that you can rehearse it to death in the garage or basement but it will take on a life of its own by getting it onstage, and that's the best practice you can get.

Also, playing with people who are better than you are forces you to keep up and with an open mind you will learn and absorb knowledge, licks, etc. You must always challenge yourself in order to get better.

Somehow I got elected to teach/lead the church youth band, and I have kids from 10-18 that have to be coordinated to play tunes. (That's a whole thread of its own, lemme tell ya!) Most importantly I wan these kids to use their ear. I also want them to be able to count to 4 repeatedly and develop a sense of timing. So many of my singers rely too heavily on each other for cues, so independence is another lesson.

Most importantly I want my guitarists to stop thinking of that fretboard in a limited manner by the chords they know. Everyone knows an A major barre chord (root note A on 5th fret 6th string-- I call it an E string but feel free to call it the 6th if numbers are your trick Razz ), and I want them to play a B major chord by simply moving that up two frets. No, play G#/Ab major by moving that position down one fret. Get my drift? People who play in specific keys are missing out on the whole purpose of having a whole fretboard at their disposal, and it's not like we're transposing piano here. Shift positions/keys by simple hand movement!

I tune to Eb on all guitars in my house and currently my DC747 is my main baby. I like to jam along with FM radio, usually to Classic Rock stations and most of the tunes are in standard tuning. I have to transpose my parts to get in key with the radio, and this is both challenging sometimes and fun all the time. Try playing AC/DC's "Back in Black" along to the CD while tuned a half-step low and you'll see what I mean. Now kick a low Bb string into the mix and you can get real vicious. Wink

The guitar is the most versatile instrument in the world. You can cry with it. You can laugh with it. You can make it speak or you can literally knock the friggin' teeth out of someone's head with it. It shuts up when you tell it to. It gives you back tenfold what you put in it. I'll be back after I've given my DC747 a loving hug from poppa... Mr. Green

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sirmyghin
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:48 pm   Reply with quoteBack to top

Bundy wrote:


Most importantly I want my guitarists to stop thinking of that fretboard in a limited manner by the chords they know. Everyone knows an A major barre chord (root note A on 5th fret 6th string-- I call it an E string but feel free to call it the 6th if numbers are your trick Razz ), and I want them to play a B major chord by simply moving that up two frets. No, play G#/Ab major by moving that position down one fret. Get my drift? People who play in specific keys are missing out on the whole purpose of having a whole fretboard at their disposal, and it's not like we're transposing piano here. Shift positions/keys by simple hand movement!


I don't think Key is quite the word you are looking for there. G#/ Ab is just G# root position, did you mean B/G# perchance? So A - B

[code]
x------
5----7 --7
6----8 or --4
7----4 --4
x----x --6
5----4 --4
[code]


Why the 2 higher voices there? Because the bass moved down, if you can make the other parts move up it contributes to counterpuntal movement, a standard practice for voice leading which can help give songs some good melody contour.

Another fun one, B major, vi-ii-V-I

[code]
---------------------
---------------------
-8----------6--------
--9-----6---8---4----
-11----7----9---6-----
--------9--------7-----
G#m C#m F# B
[/code]

Miserable, blocky crap, if you used bar chords it would be even more static and lifeless imo. Nothing to distinguish it in the least constructed of standard root position triads. Let's try that again (I have used this one recently in a tune, after some spicing but oh well.) Same progression, but go ahead and play them both back to back.

[code]
---------------------------
---------------------------
-13----9----6-----8-------
--9----11---8-----9------
-11----11---9-----6------
---------------------------
[/code]

I am sure some time in our guitar playing we have all picked up a chord chart and tried to play the song, but could never quite get it right. The above example is why.


I may not have Bundys chops, but I do share his sentiments in this respect fully. Take a standard chord progression and boil it down and do some contouring with the chords, try to make sure the whole shape is in motion as much as possible. Really avoid static movement in 5ths, there is a reason it was a no no in classic music. This is one step closer to playing in polyphony, instead of monophony. Heck here is a blues bar by bar I made to spice up playing the blues, it is in A major

[code]

1 | 2 | 3 | 4| 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

---|-----|----|-------|------|------------------------------------|------------|------
---|-----|----|-------|------|------------------------------------|------------|------
---|-----|----|--10--|--10-|--15--|--14--|--14--|-------------|------------|----5--
-6-|-6--|-6--|--9---|--11-|--14--|--14--|--13--|--13----13--|--11---11--|--6---
-6-|-6--|-7--|--7---|--12-|--12--|--x--|--x--|-----14----13--|--11---10--|--7---
-x-|-x--|-x--|--x---|-----|--x----|--12--|--12--|---x-----x----|--X----x---|---x---
-5-|-5--|-5--|--9---|------|--14--|------|------|---12---12---|--10---10--|--5---

[/code]

Blues is not the best for this given how static it is overall, but it is definitely an improvement. You can use it to construct lead lines too. Less notes is often more. A standard bar E style chords has 3 roots and 2 fifths, a bit overkill.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 6:16 am   Reply with quoteBack to top

I may not have been specific enough, but my point is this...

Using that standard barre chord shape, you can play it anywhere-- essentially giving yourself 12 different chords if you start at the bottom of the neck and move up.

This works for "cowboy chord" fingerings as well. I have 24 frets on my instrument and like to use 'em all. Mr. Green

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