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> Limit Yourself To Boost Phrasing
Ben Higgins
post May 14 2015, 10:15 AM
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Do you always fall back to the same tired licks? Have you found yourself confronted with an opportunity to create a solo over a piece of music and not knowing what to play? Are you always stuck on the root note (naming no names)? To sum it up, do you feel like you just don't know how to create guitar melodies?

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All of us, at some point, have been at the stage in our guitar playing where we don't know how to really do this. It's a transition that we automatically have to face. Some people who devote themselves to being great rhythm players may not go down that route anyway and that's cool but I'm betting most of you, who are on a site called Guitar Master Class, have always wanted to get into lead playing.

So if you do struggle with creating solos that sound good then it's not that you can't do it, you're just still in that transition stage. You're still learning it. But before you think "Oh that must mean I suck double the amount" because you're still in that stage, it doesn't mean you're dumb it just means you haven't stumbled across, or been shown, how to do it. None of us have ever gotten anywhere without the right bit of inspiration at the right time. No one can be creative in a vacuum. We are only creative in relation to the world around us. So you just haven't encountered the right stuff to spark your creativity yet.

Disclaimer: The above does have to coincide with a genuine desire to want to get better at said thing too. Sometimes we say we want something when in fact, after a closer look, we're not quite to willing to endure the necessary graft and frustrations that go hand in hand. That's ok too. It doesn't mean anything negative either. It's just that you're quite comfortable with what you've got in truth. You don't really want it, you just think you did.

There have been quite a few things in my life that I thought I wanted but it took me years to realise why I never achieved them. After brutal honesty with myself, I realised I either wanted them for the wrong reasons or didn't want them at all. It's no wonder we never find the spirit to put in the work when subconsciously, we don't truly desire it anyway. It's the idea of it that we want, not the reality.

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After that little detour, which could be an entire new thread in itself, let's look at 2 small but useful limitations you can impose on yourself to spark creativity.

-Use 1 string only. Let's say you've got a backing track. If you haven't, then put down a series of chords in your DAW. (You have got a DAW haven't you?) You're only allowed to use 1 string. Choose what string it is and keep to it. You'll have at least 21 notes at your disposal so that's 21 different sounds right away. Now, because you can't move strings to reach notes, you'll have to be more inventive with techniques. You might reach a higher note with a finger tap. Slides will also come into their own here. But just because you're on one string it doesn't mean you have to use wide intervals. It's just a possible option that usually becomes more obvious due to the self imposed constraints. One result of this is that you'll not revert to favourite shapes and instead start thinking about sound.

-Use only 2 or 3 notes to start with. You can do this on one string again or you can play those notes using whatever strings you like but the idea is to start with 2. Having only 2 intervals means that you'll want to start thinking about how you can time things differently. You may hold onto one note longer before hitting the other. Do a mirror image of that and reverse which note is held longest. You'll think of percussive pick attacks that can add variety. Try to start hearing possible rhythm variations in your head just before you play them and see if you can transfer them into the physical. You'll think of how you can apply subtle vibrato to give flavour to one note or both. You may add a subtle micro tonal bend just before you move to the other note via a slide. Bends, taps, slides, hammers and pulls will again offer themselves as options for variation. When you feel you've got the hang of things, then add a 3rd note. Ooh, the possibilities have just multiplied!

Just two self imposed limitations like the above can help you start breaking out of your usual 'repeat offender' licks. Rather than being a frustration you'll probably actually enjoy the freshness of the approach. smile.gif


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Chris S.
post May 15 2015, 01:06 AM
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Hey um... I'm kinda gonna need those handcuffs back.. tongue.gif wink.gif

I really do struggle with creating exciting melodies and I really like the 1-string idea I'm definitely going to give this a try.

Limiting my notes down to 3 will also help create a solid starting point I think, instead of making a jumbled mess.

Thanks for the pointers! biggrin.gif


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Ben Higgins
post May 15 2015, 07:15 AM
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QUOTE (Chris S. @ May 15 2015, 12:06 AM) *
Hey um... I'm kinda gonna need those handcuffs back.. tongue.gif wink.gif


I'll reluctantly give 'em back but don't push me on the gimp suit.... I've got attached to that thing. ph34r.gif


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TJHarrison5252
post May 15 2015, 07:27 AM
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I started w/ pentatonic scale real basic over backing tracks, then I watched Satriani's video on youtube about bending the note like that 1 on 1 Billy Gibbons sound. I lack continuation when soloing like I think I'm only good for like 30 seconds then back to the band. My experience with jamming over backing tracks to play notes of the arpeggio before the chords comes up, if you play it right when the chords comes up sounds like an exercise

This post has been edited by TJHarrison5252: May 15 2015, 07:28 AM
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Phil66
post May 23 2015, 08:00 AM
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This is great into, thanks Ben.

There a similar ideas on YouTube. I'm on a tablet at the moment so can't post the URL because the YouTube app keeps opening when I click the link but if you Google "youtube 4 note blues solo" you'll find it".



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