In part 1 of the Blues Scale lesson I showed you the fingering of the scale. Playing the scale up and down will work over chords, but it’s a lot more interesting to play different combinations of notes. One of the most fun I personally think you can have on guitar is jamming with other musicians. Part of that is learning to improvise. And today you’re going to learn how to improvise on guitar using the G Blues Scale!
(If you missed part 1 in this series, check it out here.)
How To Learn To Improvise On Guitar
Learning to improvise on guitar is a lifelong journey. You’ll always find new inspiration and come up with new licks. Today we’re going to start with something simple, something that will give you a good foundation. The lesson is broken down into 3 easy steps. Before we get to the first step though, I want to give you a guiding principle:
If it sounds good to you, it’s good.
I know when I first started I was wondering if I was playing the right notes. Like Jazz players like to say, there aren’t any wrong notes if you use the right. Over time you’ll learn new licks and maybe even some music theory that will guide you a little more. But keep this principle in mind and don’t be afraid to hit any “wrong” notes.
Step 1: Play Scale With Backing Track
The first step is to get accustomed to hearing these notes along with a backing track. We’re going to start by playing the scale with the backing track, just up and down in order. Don’t worry about rhythm or timing yet. Just listen to how the notes sound as you play them. Try playing just the first octave to start, then add in the second.
Step 2: Creat 3-5 Note Phrases
Once you’re comfortable with the scale itself you can start to build phrases. Phrases are one of the biggest keys to improvising. You can start creating phrases in a small series of notes. Try picking 3 or 4 notes at a time, maybe up to 5. Try and find a combination that you like. It could be 3 sequential notes in the scale, or 3 random notes. (I’ll give you a couple examples in the video).
Step 3: Add Rhythm to Phrases
The last step is to add rhythm to your notes. When you learn to improvise your first instinct might be to play straight quarter notes. But you can hold some notes for longer. Try holding one note for twice as long as the others and see how that sounds. You’ll also start to develop an ear for what notes or note combination works best. If you know any strumming patterns you can even try using that rhythm pattern on the 3-5 note phrases you created.
The point is to mix it up and experiment. Try out some of the phrases I showed you in the video, then try to create your own. A good place to start is to use mine as a base and change one or two notes and see how it sounds. Remember that this is a new skill to learn and it takes time and practice. So I encourage you to spend good time jamming over the backing track below. Make it a regular part of your practice routine. Most importantly, have fun with it! And remember that if it sounds good to you, then it is good!
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