Improvisation on Guitar Solos

Besides composing and playing your own songs or favorite covers, don't you all just love improvising? Improvising is one of the most fun aspects of guitar playing, but also something that requires a lot of hard work and dedication. It’s the next big step in becoming a better guitar player. It is a non-stop process. There is always more to learn and explore everytime you find something new.

Here are 10 basic essentials that will help you become a better improviser.

1. Scales

This is the first and the most important step. You must know how scales are played on the guitar. Once you can play the scale in all positions, connect the different shapes/positions with each other. The most fun part is learning how to improvise using the scales. That is what you are heading for.

2. Triads

Triads are very helpful in opening up your playing and stepping out of diatonic and pentatonic scales. Triads are basically 3 note chords. You can play a triad starting from the first/root note (the root position triad), from the second note (1st inversion) and from the 3rd note (2nd inversion). There are four different types of triads: Major, Minor, Augmented and Diminished.

3. Melodic Patterns

To make it not sound like you are playing just another scale, melodic patterns or sequences will really help you in improvising on solos. It will help you in expanding your possibilities and give more freedom in your playing. Scale patterns like ladder, triplet and alternate note pattern help you in learning the scale thoroughly. 

4. Arpeggios

Arpeggios are basically broken chords. They are like triads which create more color and variety to your improvisation. A triad is actually an arpeggio if it is played note by note, either in an ascending or descending order. While a triad contains only three notes, an arpeggio can be expanded with a maj7, b7, 9th, 11th, etc. which gives you endless possibilities.

5. Modes

Modes are alternative scales that are derived from a major scale by starting on a different scale tone. There are seven modes of the major scale. Once your learn all seven and understand them clearly, you will be able to experiment a lot with your solos. Modes open up many doors with respect to improvising solos. Modes of the major scale are Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian.

Listening to your favorite guitar players and identifying their techniques in the solos are also very helpful. You may apply their concepts in your guitar playing. Good luck!

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