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Discussion Starter #1
I've pretty much spent my time for the last 6 months getting the 5 minor pentatonic shapes and 7 major scale shapes (I only know 5 at this point) under my fingers. Trying to get the notes I can use so I can start to work on my soloing.

So I noodle around the shapes periodically come up with something I think sounds good until I hear it back then I think it's just lame/shitty.

I learned the solo to You Shook Me All Night Long this week - arguably one of the best rock-n-roll solos ever. I listen to that and I look at the pentatonic shapes in use and I'm thinking "I see that - why doesn't my stuff sound 'good' ??"

I realize now the downfall of approaching the guitar from a near pure academic perspective - I know lots of stuff (probably less than most here lol!) but I can't put it to the fretboard. And I have no phrasing skills at all - I just wander through the shapes mostly ascending/descending with little distance between intervals - everything just sounds flat.

I'm looking for ways to improve my phrasing and I'm thinking that the best things I could do would be:

1. Play more music instead of playing exercises
2. Academically keep working the scale shapes with an added emphasis on increasing the interval distance between notes to get out of the "just going through the shape top to bottom" mode of thinking.
3. More bends/vibrato/slides being careful not to over do it.

Any other ideas to work on?
 

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NSLALP
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Stop playing straight scales for a while. You're mad because your playing sounds academic, but you're practicing academically. There's merit to what you are working at - but limit the time in "academic mode" and move to "feel mode." Listen to how the various intervals fit into chords in a progression as you're playing.

When you do practice scales - STOP at the tonic note (e.g. if you're playing eighths, give the tonic a quarter or half note). Also try stopping at any "flavor" notes - in pentatonic minor that would include the minor third interval, and don't forget to flirt with the passing tone between the fourth and fifth (THE DEVIL NOTE, SON).

Try moving through the scales in patterns - up three, down two, up three, down two... or skip one up, come down one, skip one up, come down one...

Definitely practice bends. You can't over do this. Bend slowly. Hear the transition from one interval to the next and learn which ones sound shit and which sound awesome. Learn the most important ones - for example, the b7 interval bent up to the tonic. Or bending to/from the 3rd interval.

Food for thought. You've made the patterns fall more easily under your fingers - now learn some music and allow your fingers to take you away on autopilot. That's the point of exercises - liberating your hands from your brain. So now it's time to feed your brain!
 

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Lord Super Awesome
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Look up Paul Gilbert lessons on Youtube. As ridiculously good as he is, the man is an excellent teacher & explain things in a way that anyone could grasp the lesson. Making the seemingly complicated uncomplicated. I've learned a lot about phrasing from him.
 

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Find some solos you like and want to sound like and learn them! Also, listen to other things besides the normal guitar solos. Listen to a guy like Derek Trucks who has incredible phrasing, or listen to sax players, or listen to awesome vocalists.
 

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listen to sax players, or listen to awesome vocalists.
Also, listen to other horn players, piano players, fiddle, etc. Any of those instruments with notes that are laid out different than guitar, learning that stuff gets you out of the box. :yesway:
 
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Just play. That's all it takes. Keep practicing your technique so it doesn't fall apart, but dedicate most of your time to figuring out your sound and you'll be able to get it.
 

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Heavy Rhythm Player
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try playing with backing tracks, whenever I play with a backing track I end up doing things I never would have done otherwise.
 

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NSLALP
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Find some solos you like and want to sound like and learn them! Also, listen to other things besides the normal guitar solos. Listen to a guy like Derek Trucks who has incredible phrasing, or listen to sax players, or listen to awesome vocalists.
Oh yeah, that's key. :yesway:

Limit yourself to only playing 3 note phrases... 4 note phrases.... 5 note phrases...
That's a good idea! I'll have to try that.
 

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Look what I can do
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Noodle around until you write a riff you think is nifty (or fucking badass, all the better) and record it. Loop that for like a 30 minute setting, add some drums, and then play accompaniment to it. Record all of it and try to come up with as many different variations as you can. Really focus on pulling different sounds/feels out of the original riff by running different riffs next to it. Once you get some different variations you like, pick one and reverse the process...mute the original track, set up a loop of the new riff and play along to that. Rinse repeat as many times as you can without losing your mind and see how far off the original riff and the final variations are. Also fun to be had taking riffs from different points in the session that weren't played/recorded together at all and see how they match up with each other.

If you're only focusing on solo's though, I dunno. Do the same thing with leads? I think my cat vomiting would provide a better solo than what I can come up with on the guitfiddle.

*sidenote, I'm pretty sure this is why I've only written & recorded 5 songs in the past 3 years despite writing hours worth of riffs :/
 

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Guiterrorizer
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Listen to a ton of blues guitarists, sax and trumpet players. Also listen to some classical music, and world-renowned pop singers (Michael Jackson is widely regarded for a reason!).

And just practice a ton. Jam with anyone, jam with backing tracks, record a loop at home (if you can) and jam to that. It's all about time spent, really.

Sincerely, a fellow guitarist who needs to work on his phrasing too :lol:
 

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I need work on my phrasing as well and have been doing a lot of work with my lead guitarist as we work on our ep. We've found that listening to a lot of other styles and players gives us a few neat ideas.

One of the biggest points I've heard which is very apicable to our music, is don't forget silence or slow runs/long notes are just as important as speed runs and licks. Using a breathing rhythm is a good framework. Breathing in for the quick runs and tasty stuff and breathing out for pauses, slow parts or extended notes.

Sometimes what I do is because I'm a rhythm guitarist and vocalist primarily is I'll just sing a few lines of luck type stuff and then sit there with a guitar and learn it on guitar.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I always liked the guitar solo in Stairway to Heaven although I have no real desire to sound like Jimmy Page it's another great example of pentatonics in action. I really like some of the phrasing on avenged sevenfold's last album. I'm gonna start there. Thanks for the input!
 

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HEy, mine sucks too! :lol:

I guess I can make two suggestions. First, the difference between a simple straight scale line and a "phrase" is often accentations. Try adding little stylistic touches like ghost note slides into a note rather than fretting it directly, bends, hammer ons or pull offs as accents rater than as a mere way to sound the note (I.e - if you're playing a line that goes 3-4-6, try maybe playing it 3-4-4h6 with a quick slurred hit on), bends into notes rather than fretting the note itself, etc. This is especially effective with "doubled" notes where you play the same note two times in a row. Listen to Steve Vai's "Liberty" - it's a very simple, catchy melody, but most tabs I've seen miss all the subtle accents he adds to the line that makes it breathe.

Second, building off the earlier suggestion on playing lines with only X number of notes - start self-imposing rules while improvising, to practive. For example, take a solo only playing notes on the G and B strings (or, to make it trickier and possibly cooler sounding, the G and E strings). IT'll force you to stop playing your normal patterns and move around the neck a lot more, and force you to start thinking and stop playing on autopilot. Or, play a solo only on one string... Or limit yourself to four or five notes, one pitch in one octave, possibly even the same positions on the fretboard, and see if you can make an interesting solo out of just those pitches.

I actually feel like I could gain a lot by doing more of this stuff myself. I just need more time to practice.
 

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Another suggestion I've heard that I haven't really tried (and it's a little trickier for "shred" stuff) is to kind of sing along with your lines. The idea is to force yourself to make your lines flow more like a vocal performance, because you have to pause when you run out of breath. Maybe worth a shot.
 

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\m/ \m/
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Man you sure your that bad if your like me you'll be you're own worst critic. Nothing will ever be good enough.
 

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hey!,
Check out Victor Wooten' lessons.
especially the 'Groove workshop'
his lessons really helped me cross the gap between music theory and composing.
 

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I find the most interesting phrasing happens when Im not thinking about guitar skill. Its easy to fall into the trap of overplaying every note, and from a listeners point of view gets boring fast. I just tell myself to 'play around the silence' and it seems to help. Like all things in life there is a time when not saying anything has more impact.
 
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