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Become great at Improvisation – Pt 11 – Unison bends!

Hi there,

Thanks again for reading the blogs – if you like them please share the links to your friends!

The next chapter in this improv series talks about how to integrate Unison bends into your playing.

Unison bends are used in millions of songs to provide a different type of bend to your standard semitone, tone or 1 1/2 tone bends.

A Unison is where you play 2 notes of the exact same pitch. I.e. 5th fret of the B (2nd) string and the open E (1st) string.

A Unison bend is where you strike 2 strings, the top string is playing say an E (12th fret) and the B string you’d play a D (15th fret) and bend the B string to reach the E. The most common places on the neck where these are performed are on the G (3rd) and B (2nd) strings and B and E (1st) strings. Here are some examples:

UNISON BEND EXAMPLES

The sound it produces sounds great and can be used lots in your riff making and lead playing.

To really integrate it into your playing, practice going up and down your scales using these. For example here is the G major scale (G, A, B, C, D, E, F#) using the unison bend shape on the E and B strings.

UNISON BENDS USING G MAJOR SCALE

Here’s another example of using the notes of the A minor pentatonic (A, C, D, E, G) using unison bends:

A MINOR PENTATONIC USING UNISON BENDS

Practice this using all your scales in all the various shapes and positions.

You can find other great free info on all things guitar related via the Js Music School twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks for reading

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

James

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Improvisation

 

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Become great at Improvisation Pt 10 – Note skipping

Hi there,

So the next step in your quest to be an improv god is note skipping through your scales.

Note skipping is where you play your first note of the scale, skip to the 3rd, come back to the 2nd note, skip to the 4th, come back to the 3rd and so on.

It’s a truly excellent way to learn your scales as you really have to know your shapes well to be able to do this effectively. It also allows you to further randomize your shapes, providing you with more ideas for coming up with riffs and melodies.

Here’s the 1st shape of the A minor pentatonic using this exercise. (both ascending and descending)

PENTATONIC NOTE SKIPPING

Here’s the 1st shape of the A major scale using this exercise. (both ascending and descending). This is also known as going up and down in 3rd’s

NOTE SKIPPING WITH A MAJOR SCALE

Remember you can get perform this exercise with all 5 shapes of the minor/ major pentatonic and all 7 shapes of the Major/ Natural Minor scales, plus any other scales you learn.

You can find other free excellent info on all things guitar via the Jsmusicschool twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks for reading

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

James

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2014 in Improvisation

 

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Become great at Improvisation – Pt. 9 – Major/Minor scales on 1 string

Hi there,

In the next part of this Improv series we’ll look at learning to play your major/minor scales on just 1 string. This is another excellent way to fully absorb your shapes and move about the neck freely. Also to helps to fully absorb the notes on the neck.

To start with let’s get the notes of a major scale. Let’s say D major:

Using our TTSTTTS rule (tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone)  Tone is 2 notes (e.g. A to B) Semitone is 1 note (e.g. A# to B) :

D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#

Although D is your key centre, it’s best to practice on all your strings from your first available note. So for example on the 6th E string you’d start from the open E then F#, G and so on.

Here’s how it would look for the 6th string.

d major scale on 1 string

So practice this for all 6 strings (the A string would go A, B, C#, D and so on) and all 12 major keys.

Do this for your minor keys as well. Your Natural Minor scale is made up of a Root note (1), Major 2nd (2), Minor 3rd (b3), Perfect 4th (4), Perfect 5th (5), Minor 6th (b6) and Minor 7th (b7).

Major 2nd = 1 tone, Minor 3rd = 1 1/2 tones, Perfect 4th = 2 1/2 tones, Perfect 5th = 3 1/2 tones, Minor 6th = 4 tones, Minor 7th = 5 tones

G minor would be G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F for example and your first available note would be an F on the 6th E string.

By doing all this you are essentially learning 3 things at once:

  • Further integrating your scales to provide you with runs on each string and move around the neck effectively in a particular key
  • Reinforcing your knowledge of keys
  • Reinforcing your knowledge of the notes of the guitar fretboard

So get cracking 🙂

Thanks for reading these blogs, hope you find them useful.

You can find other excellent free info via the Js Musicschool twitter feeds @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

James

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Improvisation

 

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Become great at Improvisation – Pt 8 – Pentatonic scales on 1 string

Hi there,

Thanks for reading my blogs, feel free to ask any questions.

The next blog in this Improv series will look at playing the pentatonic scales just on 1 string at a time. This is another great way of learning how to integrate your scales + move across the neck easily.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of this exercise you’ll want to learn how the pentatonic scales are constructed.

The Minor pentatonic scale is built up of a root note (1), Minor 3rd (b3), Perfect 4th (4), Perfect 5th (5) and Minor 7 (b7) intervals

– Minor 3rd interval is 1 1/2 tones in size e.g. A to C

– A Perfect 4th is 2 1/2 tones in size e.g. D to G

– A Perfect 5th is 3 1/2 tones in size e.g. F to C

– A Minor 7th is 5 tones in size e.g. C to Bb

So let’s take A minor pentatonic as an example. The notes would be:

– A, C, D, E + G . So using the 5 shapes of A minor pentatonic, these are the only 5 notes you would be playing.

– An extremely useful exercise would be to play all the available notes of the pentatonic scale on 1 string at a time from the first available note. So if we took the 6th Low E string. You’d start with the open E, then G, A, C and so on.

Here’s all the available notes of the A minor pentatonic on the E string:

fretboard

The intervallic formula for the major pentatonic is as follows: Root note (1), Major 2nd (2), Major 3rd (3), Perfect 5th (5) and Major 6th (6)

Let’s take the D major pentatonic for example: The notes would be:

D, E, F#, A + B

So you can use the exact same process as above.

So practice this in all keys on all 6 strings , and that will really help you to further your improv skills by getting to know the neck + keys a lot better.

Hope you’ve found this blog useful, you can find other great free info via the Js Music School twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

James

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Improvisation

 

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Become great at Improvisation – Part 7 – Major/Minor scale bends

Hi there,

Thanks for reading my blogs, feel free to ask questions or suggest a subject matter you are having issues with.

Our next part of this improv series focuses on pitch bends using the major and minor scales. The previous blog centered on the essential bends of the pentatonic scales. Remember the pentatonic scales are simply 5 notes from the possible 7 available from the major/minor scales. Depending on the type of chords being used and style of music, one type of scale may be more suitable. With the Major/Minor scales you have 2 semi-tone bends which can be great for adding variety.

In the picture below i’ve highlighted the most essential bends that you can play around with. Red dots are Tone bends (2 notes/2 Frets e.g. G to A) and Blue are Semi-Tone bends (1 fret/1note e.g. G# to A)

CLICK ON THE PICTURE FOR A LARGER IMAGE 🙂

MAJOR SCALE FULL + SEMITONE BENDS

So a great thing to do is practice each shape up and down but performing the bends as you go along. By doing this you’ll get used to the tension needed to perform each bend accurately and you’ll give yourself a wealth of possible pitch bends to use in each key.

Remember to practice in all 7 shapes in all 12 keys. The tension of the strings varies up and down the neck (it’s the tightest near the nut) so it requires more strength at the start of the fretboard. Have fun!

Our next blog on the series will help to further integrate the scales by just going up and down the scales on one string at a time.

You can find other excellent free info via the Js Music School twitter feeds @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

James

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Improvisation

 

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Become great at Improvisation Pt 6 – Pentatonic bends

Hi there,

Thanks again for reading my blogs, feel good about spreading the word if you have found them useful.

So the next few blogs are going to really get stuck into pitch bends with the minor pentatonic scale, then move onto using them in the major and minor scales.

Pitch bends are a really great way of linking up shapes and creating variety in your lead playing. You are basically picking a note then bending the string with your fretting hand to reach another note. Often you are simply just bending the note to reach the pitch of the next note in the scale.

To keep it simple i’m going to just display the most essential bends of the 5 shapes on the G, B and E strings. These are the ones you are going to use the most.

In the picture below you’ll see the red circles on which to perform the pitch bends. In each pitch bend you are bending up the note to reach the next note (that would be in the connecting shape)

  • The red circle highlights a ‘tone bend’. A tone is 2 notes (so E to F# or G to A)
  • The red circle with a blue circle around it highlights ‘a tone and a half bend’ which means 3 semitones in total (so E to G or G to A#)

PENTATONICS FOR STRING BENDING

As the shapes are the same for the major pentatonic you can use the bends in exactly the same way.

Hope you’ve found this blog useful, we’ll go onto the major/minor scales next where you can add semitone bends to your repertoire.

You can find other excellent free tips via the Js Music School twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

James

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2013 in Improvisation

 

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Become great at Improvisation Pt.5 – String skipping, hammer on’s and pull off’s

Hi there,

Thanks again for reading my blogs, if you’ve found them useful feel good about recommending other guitarists to read the blog.

So on part 5 of the Improv series we’re going to look at integrating String Skipping, Hammer on’s and pull off’s into your scale exercises.

So far we’ve looked at learning your 4 essential scales, then patterns of 3’s and 4’s. IMHO the next exercise is another excellent way to help integrate your scales into using them in a more musical context.

  • Often in riffs and solo’s guitarists will play a pattern and then switch to a string that’s not necessarily next to it. Being able to jump across strings whilst still using the same scale is a great skill to have.
  • Hammer on’s and pull off’s are used a lot in creating riffs, melodies and solos as they provide you with different sounds and ways of connecting up shapes.
  • A ‘hammer on’ is where you pick a note on a string and literally hammer on the next note with another fretting finger (without picking)
  • A ‘pull off’ is where you are picking a note and then creating another note by pulling off your finger (with another finger already pressed down)
  • This exercise combines 3 techniques at once so it’s a fantastic one to learn.
  • With the 3 examples below when ascending up the shape you use hammer on’s and coming back down you use pull off’s

Here’s the 1st shape of the A minor pentatonic using the exercise:

A MINOR PENT STRING SKIPPING

Here’s an audio clip of me playing it:

Here’s the 1st shape of the A major scale using the exercise:

A MAJOR STRING SKIPPING

Here’s an audio clip of me playing it:

Here’s the 1st shape of the A minor scale using the exercise:

A MINOR STRING SKIPPING

Here’s an audio clip of me playing it:

Have fun using these exercises, you’ll also find them great at stretching those fingers. Remember to practice them in all shapes and keys.

You can find other excellent free info via the Js Music School twitter feeds @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks

Rock ‘n’ roll

James

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2013 in Improvisation

 

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