Improvising With Knowledge: Lesson 7

I am Greg Studley, and this is Lesson 7 of Improvising With Knowledge on Ultimate Guitar. These lessons are designed to get you accustomed to improvising with multiple pentatonic scale shapes, and following the chords through a chord progression.
Here's what we've covered in the previous lessons:

Improvising With Knowledge: Lesson 1 focused on the Minor Pentatonic Scale Shape E1, notes across the E-string, moving the Min Pent E1 shape across the neck, and soloing over a minor chord.

Improvising With Knowledge: Lesson 2 focused on the Major Pentatonic Scale Shape E4, understanding flats and sharps, moving the Maj Pent E4 shape around the circle of fifths, and soloing over a major chord.

Improvising With Knowledge: Lesson 3 focused on alternate picking eighth notes to increase your speed, and incorporating rhythmic and melodic motifs into your improvised solos.

Improvising With Knowledge: Lesson 4
 focused on learning how to solo over a major chord progression or a minor chord progression by following the chords and using different scales for each chord, rather than just using a single scale throughout.

Improvising With Knowledge: Lesson 5 focused on soloing over a chord progression containing both major and minor chords by following the chords and changing the pentatonic scale as the chord changes. It involves more thought, but produces excellent results.

Improvising With Knowledge: Lesson 6 focused on adding a new pentatonic scale shape to your repertoire, allowing you to have 2 major pentatonic scale shapes and 2 minor pentatonic scale shapes to use when soloing.

Improvising With Knowledge: Lesson 7

So far, I have focused on using 1 major/minor pentatonic scale shape for soloing, and moving that shape around the neck to solo over a set of chords. As you may have noticed, this often involves making quick jumps from one position of the neck to another. By incorporating more pentatonic scale shapes, this problem is eliminated. The more shapes you have, the less you have to move your hand.

The last lesson focused on adding a new major/minor pentatonic scale to your list of available scales. Now, we will alter the Three-Step Method (introduced in Lesson 4) to train you how to solo over a chord progression using two pentatonic scale shapes, all the while following the chord progression by changing your scale as the chord changes. Here is a review of all of the major and minor pentatonic scale shapes that you should now be familiar with:

Maj Pent E4
(low root is played on the E string with the 4th finger)

e |-O-|---|---|-R-|
B |-O-|---|---|-O-|
G |-R-|---|-O-|---|
D |-O-|---|-O-|---|
A |-O-|---|-O-|---|
E |-O-|---|---|-R-|

Min Pent E1
(low root is played on the E string with the 1st finger)

e |-R-|---|---|-O-|
B |-O-|---|---|-O-|
G |-O-|---|-O-|---|
D |-O-|---|-R-|---|
A |-O-|---|-O-|---|
E |-R-|---|---|-O-|

Maj Pent A4
(low root is played on the A string with the 4th finger)

e |-O-|---|---|-O-|
B |---|-R-|---|-O-|
G |-O-|---|-O-|---|
D |-O-|---|-O-|---|
A |-O-|---|---|-R-|
E |-O-|---|---|-O-|

Min Pent A1
(low root is played on the A string with the 1st finger)

e |-O-|---|---|-O-|
B |---|-O-|---|-O-|
G |-O-|---|-R-|---|
D |-O-|---|-O-|---|
A |-R-|---|---|-O-|
E |-O-|---|---|-O-|

And here is how you can apply the simple yet effective Three Step Method from my book, "A Guitarist's Guide to Improvising With Knowledge," to become familiar with all of your soloing options:

Step 1: Play the Roots

Using half notes, cycle through the different roots of the pentatonic scale shapes two times through the chord progression. The first time though the chord progression, use the lower hand position of each scale shape. The second time through the chord progression, use the higher hand position of each scale shape. Begin playing from the lowest available root in each shape, and leave two beats of rest between each chord.

Step 2: Play the Scales

Using eighth notes, play the pentatonic scales two times through the chord progression. The first time through the chord progression, use the lower hand position of each scale shape. The second time, use the higher hand position of each scale shape. Alternate starting each scale from low roots or high roots, and leave two beats of rest between each scale.

Step 3: Improvise Over the Chord Progression

  • Think ahead to keep track of when the chords are about to switch.
  • Use rhythmic and melodic motifs to fill you solo with similar ideas.
  • Start your solo with lower shapes (and notes) and end your solo with higher shapes (and notes) to help the solo gradually build and become more intense.

So, how do you apply this to a common chord progression and prepare yourself for soloing? We will be taking the chord progression E, C#m, A, B with each chord lasting for 4 measures to show how this works.

But first: try soloing over the chord progression using all available pentatonic scale shapes that we have covered. Can you do it? If not, then do the three step method below and then try again to see how useful this can be!

Step 1: Play the Roots (also shown in the video below)

(Maj Pent A4) (Min Pent A1)

E |----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|
B |-----5----|-----5----|-----5----|----------|----------|----------|----------|
G |----------|----------|----------|----------|-----6----|-----6----|-----6----|
D |----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|
A |--7-------|--7-------|--7-------|--7-------|--4-------|--4-------|--4-------|
E |----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|

(Maj Pent E4) (Maj Pent E4)

----------|----------|--5-------|----------|--5-------|----------|--7-------|
----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|
----------|-----2----|-----2----|-----2----|----------|-----4----|-----4----|
----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|
--4-------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|
----------|--5-------|----------|--5-------|----------|--7-------|----------|

(Maj Pent E4) (Min Pent E1)

----------|--7-------|----------|--12------|----------|--12------|----------|
----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|
-----4----|----------|-----9----|-----9----|-----9----|----------|----------|
----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|-----11---|
----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|
--7-------|----------|--12------|----------|--12------|----------|--9-------|

(Maj Pent A4)

--9-------|----------|--9-------|----------|----------|----------|----------|
----------|----------|----------|-----10---|-----10---|-----10---|----------|
----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|
-----11---|-----11---|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|
----------|----------|----------|--12------|--12------|--12------|--12------|
----------|--9-------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|

(Maj Pent A4)

----------|----------|----------|----------||
-----12---|-----12---|-----12---|----------||
----------|----------|----------|----------||
----------|----------|----------|----------||
--14------|--14------|--14------|--14------||
----------|----------|----------|----------||

Play this step as many times as needed until you can comfortably play all roots of the scale shapes. This is the most solid way to establish your hand positions through the chord progression.

Step 2: Play the Scales (also shown in the video below)

(Maj Pent A4)

E |-----------------------4----|--7--4----------------------|
B |-----------------5--7-------|--------7--5----------------|
G |-----------4--6-------------|--------------6--4----------|
D |-----4--6-------------------|--------------------6--4----|
A |--7-------------------------|----------------------------|
E |----------------------------|----------------------------|

(Min Pent A1)

----------------------------|----------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------|--6--4----------------------|
-----------------------4----|----------|--------6--4----------------|
--7--4-----------4--7-------|--7-------|--------------7--4----------|
--------7--4--7-------------|----------|--------------------7--4----|
----------------------------|-----4--7--4----------------|----------|
-----------------------5----|--7-----------7--5----------|----------|
-----------------4--6-------|--------------------6--4----|--6-------|
-----------4--6-------------|----------------------------|----------|
-----4--7-------------------|----------------------------|----------|
--7-------------------------|----------------------------|----------|

(Maj Pent E4)

----------------------------|-----2--5--2----------------|
-----------------------2----|--5-----------5--2----------|
-----------------2--4-------|--------------------4--2----|
-----------2--4-------------|----------------------------|
-----2--4-------------------|----------------------------|
--5-------------------------|----------------------------|

(Maj Pent E4)

----------------------------|----------|--7--4----------------------|
----------------------------|----------|--------7--4----------------|
----------------------------|----------|--------------6--4----------|
--4--2----------------------|----------|--------------------6--4----|
--------4--2-----------2----|----------|----------------------------|
--------------5--2--5-------|--5-------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|-----------------4--7--4----|--7-------|
----------------------------|-----------4--7-------------|----------|
----------------------------|-----4--6-------------------|----------|
-----------------------4----|--6-------------------------|----------|
--6--4-----------4--6-------|----------------------------|----------|
--------7--4--7-------------|----------------------------|----------|

(Maj Pent E4)

----------------------------|-----9--12-9----------------|
-----------------------9----|--12----------12-9----------|
-----------------9--11------|--------------------11-9----|
-----------9--11------------|----------------------------|
-----9--11------------------|----------------------------|
--12------------------------|----------------------------|

(Min Pent E1)

----------------------------|----------|--9-------------------------|
----------------------------|----------|-----12-9-------------------|
----------------------------|----------|-----------11-9-------------|
--11-9----------------------|----------|-----------------11-9-------|
--------11-9-----------9----|----------|-----------------------11---|
--------------12-9--12------|--12------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|--------------9--12-9-------|--9-------|
----------------------------|--------9--12----------12---|----------|
----------------------------|--9--11---------------------|----------|
--------------------9--11---|----------------------------|----------|
--9-----------9--11---------|----------------------------|----------|
-----12-9--12---------------|----------------------------|----------|

(Maj Pent A4)

-----------------------9----|--12-9----------------------|
-----------------10-12------|--------12-10---------------|
-----------9--11------------|--------------11-9----------|
-----9--11------------------|--------------------11-9----|
--12------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|

(Maj Pent A4)

----------------------------|----------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------|--12------------------------|
----------------------------|----------|-----13-11------------------|
-----------------------9----|----------|-----------13-11------------|
--12-9-----------9--12------|--12------|-----------------14-11------|
--------12-9--12------------|----------|-----------------------14---|
----------------------------|--------11-14-11------------|----------||
----------------------------|--12-14----------14-12------|--12------||
--------------------11-13---|-----------------------13---|----------||
--------------11-13---------|----------------------------|----------||
--------11-14---------------|----------------------------|----------||
--11-14---------------------|----------------------------|----------||

Step 3: Improvise Over the Chord Progression (the video includes a sample solo)

Can you solo over the chord progression better now? Sometimes these preparatory steps take some time to accomplish, but they solidify where all scales and available notes are located. The next Improvising With Knowledge Lesson will cover how to play arpeggios so that they may soon be used in solos as well. Play with knowledge!

Use the following video to practice all of the different exercises listed above, with scrolling TAB so you can play along.


About the Author:

By Greg Studley, author of "A Guitarist's Guide to Improvising With Knowledge," "Speed, Accuracy & Technique for Guitar," and "Essentials of Rhythm Guitar."You can also download PDF versions of the exercises and play with free jam tracks at www.ImprovisingWithKnowledge.com.


Ashutosh Pande
Ashutosh Pande

Author



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.