For many guitarists, learning to “jam” with others (or along with the radio or a certain song) is a top request when beginning guitar lessons. But if you’re feeling stuck, you’re not alone. It might just be time to take a step back.
We’ve discussed tips before to help jazz up your improvised solos, but there’s even more preparation that can be done to help with your overall skillset when it comes to this technique – particularly for guitar players. Before you start showing off, consider the behind-the-scenes work that should get its due time.
These suggestions from Ultimate-Guitar.com will help you get even better at guitar improvisation:
1. Thorough knowledge of music theory. Why? When there’s a chord playing, you need to know which notes sound good over the chord and which ones don’t. You need to know which scales you can play over the chords, chord theory to construct your own chords and inversions as you are playing, modal theory so you can open up hundreds of new scale options, intervals, inversions, and much, much more. Knowing music theory massively expands your options.
2. Memorizing the fretboard. Why? When you know which notes you can play over which chords, the next step is knowing where they are on the guitar so you can instantly find them. This will make guitar playing easier for you if you can see the fretboard clearly as you are playing. If you can’t, then it’s a lot like driving along a road you’ve never been on before, in pitch black darkness, without a map.
3. Mastery of phrasing. Why? Guitar playing is like a conversation. You need to be able to phrase your licks in such a way that is interesting and doesn’t ramble on forever. Phrasing means targeting the right chord tones at the right time, “speaking” with your guitar, spacing your licks and using various techniques.
4. Understanding the basic 7 elements of music. Why? When you understand rhythm, harmony, melody, dynamics, texture, timbre and form, it becomes much easier to improvise a guitar solo and create an interesting sound in real time while playing. You can sense when there is an imbalance in the music, and try to correct it so that you and the listener can enjoy the music more.
Of course, working with a guitar instructor can give you even more hands-on tips if you’re struggling with specific techniques. Search for a guitar instructor near you here.
Ready to try your hand at improvisation? If you’ve learned other tips or techniques, share them with the TakeLessons community! Leave a comment below or stop by our Facebook page and join the discussion. Like these posts? Sign up to receive daily updates right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe.