Stop Your Solos from Sounding Like Scales – Steve Stine Guitar Lesson


(rock ballad) – Hi, Steve Stine here, and today, what I’d like to do is
help you a little bit in avoiding the guitar scale trap, where your guitar solos
always sound like scales. Now, logically, that happens
to a lot of people because we spend so much time
practicing a particular scale, up and down, and picking,
and all that stuff, that, when we go to solo,
we tend to play it that way. And so what I wanna do is just give you a couple of things to think about that you can kinda plan out
and practice in the future. So the first thing is,
is understanding that, when we do practice the scale, let’s just use G major as our example. So I’m just gonna play
a G major scale here. (plays scale) And again, it doesn’t
matter what position, and it doesn’t matter
what scale you’re using. These ideas I’m gonna
give you here can apply to pentatonic as well as diatonic. But the big thing that I think about, there’s really three things that I want you to try and
explore, maybe four things. But the first one is what
I always tell students. Let’s think of it as intervallic playing. Now, when I say intervals, I’m not necessarily talking
about creating a pattern of thirds, or fourths, or something. Not so deep. If you’re just kind of learning how to solo, and you wanna make your solos sound a
little bit more exciting and less like a scale, what I want you to do is just think
about jumping over things. Instead of always playing
straight up and down. (plays scale) Which you’re gonna get that kind of sound, what I want you to concentrate on is jumping over strings or jumping over notes within the scale,
and it takes a little while, and of course it takes practice, and study, and all these other things, but think about it this way. Instead of just playing up. (plays scale) And back down, what we could
do is explore movements. (plays broken scale) Like that, where it sounds
a little bit more unique. (plays broken scale) And you can do that
anywhere on the fret board. If you, again, I’m just
playing G major here, or E minor, depending on
how you wanna look at it. (plays guitar) If I just play the G major scale up here, and instead of just going up and down. (plays scale) Which can be nice if you’re doing faster (plays quickly) kind of runs and things like that, but if I’m not really
shooting for that scale sound, I wanna try and think about jumping. (plays broken scale) Jumping over things. So that’s the first category
is intervallic playing. And again, I don’t mean it
in a deep theory manner. I mean it more in a creative aspect, where you’re really trying to think about, instead of just playing up and down whatever scale you’re using, you’re trying to think about moving around
a bit more, in and out. So you’re avoiding just playing scales up and down all the time. The second thing I want
you to think about, which is kind of like intervallic playing, but it’s a little more constructed, is playing arpeggios, or arpeggio ideas. Now, an arpeggio is a broken chord. So if you were to take, for instance, a G major chord. (plays chord) And instead of just strumming it. (plays arpeggiated chord) You play the individual
notes of that chord, you’d be playing an
arpeggio, but guitar players, when we solo, we’re not just looking at a chord and just going (plays arpeggiated chord) just doing this. What we have a tendency of doing is trying to find the notes of that chord. Now again, you either know your theory to know that a G major chord is comprised of G, B, and D, which is the root, the third, and the fifth,
all that kinda stuff, or you don’t, and you
just have the ability of being able to visualize a chord shape on your guitar, and either
ways works just fine. For instance, if you knew your triads in your head, and you knew them on your fret board, your arpeggios, you’d know you could play G, B, D–
(plays notes) Which, when you play those arpeggios, it’s intervallic ’cause you’re
skipping over other notes. (plays notes) But if you don’t know
all of that just yet, again, this is a wonderful thing for you to study, but let’s say you can just visualize
a chord on your guitar. So you don’t know all of your theory, and you don’t know all of that stuff on your fret board, but
you can visualize a G chord on your guitar.
(plays chord) Or a G chord up here on your guitar. (plays chord) Something like that. What you can do is sort of intertwine that visualization of that chord into the scale that you’re already seeing. So let’s say, for instance, you’re looking at this G major chord right here. (plays guitar) Or G major scale, excuse me. (plays scale) And again, don’t worry
about what I’m playing. If you play your G major scale here. (plays scale) Or whatever, it’s perfectly fine. But what I’m doing is I’m visualizing this G major bar chord right here, and I’m visualizing the
G major scale, as well. So what I can do is, instead of just playing up and down the scale, which is what we’re
trying to avoid right now, what I can do is drop into that shape, that G major shape, and
play that as an arpeggio. So let’s say, for
instance, we’re visualizing this G major bar chord. So what I’m gonna do
is go to the fifth fret of the fourth string. (plays note) And the fourth fret of the third string. (plays note) And the third fret of the second string. (plays note) And the third fret of the first string. (plays note)
Because those are the bottom four strings of this G major chord. So I’m visualizing. (plays notes in succession) You see? Now, while I’m visualizing that, I’m also able to see the G
major scale sitting right here. (plays broken scale) So at any time, I might be
playing in this position, (plays guitar) and I could drop back
into that chord shape, and play the arpeggio
sounds of that chord. (plays guitar) And of course, the more you know about how to see that G major chord all across the fret
board, the more options you have, or the more you understand about your music theory, the more options you have of where you could be doing this. So right now, we’ve got intervallic ideas, and we’ve got arpeggios,
so instead of just going (plays scale) we’re thinking about how we could play more intervallic, excuse me. (plays guitar) And I could drop into– (continues playing guitar) into an arpeggio. Now, the nice thing about the arpeggio, as well, is any of the notes that make up that chord are great notes for you to emphasize within the context of your, or excuse me, your solo. Sorry about that. So instead of always just going to G, a G chord is being played, and you’re always emphasizing the note G. (plays guitar) Which G is a wonderful note. But if you can visualize the chord shape, any of these notes (plays notes) could be emphasized. They’re great target notes to try and push your movements (plays guitar) towards one of those notes. So if this chord’s being played, (plays chord) and you go–
(plays guitar solo) You see? It’s gonna sound a
little more interesting, I would think, than
just playing the scale. So the first thing is
intervallic movement. The second thing would be learning something about arpeggios, whether or not it’s the theory,
and the application on your fret board, or whether or not it’s visualizing the chord shapes. That’s all entirely up to
you and your study interests. So the next thing I want you to think about is creativity in movement, and really two different things I want you to think about here. One would be horizontal movement versus always thinking playing vertically. When you play vertically, (plays guitar quickly) you tend to get all of
that stuff happening, which again, can be wonderful. But if you think more horizontally, it forces you, think, if you were just gonna play on one
string, for instance. (plays guitar) You wouldn’t be able
to play the scale idea if you were just using your second string, or your first string,
or something like that. So the nice thing for you to practice is just picking a string and trying to create some movement, some soloing, what’s the word I’m looking for here? (chuckles) Just some soloing variants, if you will, with this horizontal movement. So again, if I have this
G chord being played. (plays chord) And I go–
(plays guitar) It’s gonna sound different. And of course, what’s nice about this, too, is I can use all
of this sliding stuff. (plays sliding notes) So I’ll slide back and forth,
or you could use hammer-ons. (plays quick notes) And then I use that,
as well, in the context of my regular playing. So if you think about my G
major scale sitting right there, and I’ve got this intervallic
movement going on, and I’ve got these arpeggios sitting here, well, I can go back and forth between all of that horizontally, using slides, or hammer-ons, or
different things like that. One thing I love to do is to play a note and then slide to it. So let’s say, for instance, I was going to play the eighth fret
of the second string. (plays note) Which is a G. So I’m gonna play this note, but instead of just playing it,
(plays notes) I’m gonna slide from the seventh fret up to the eighth fret, as well. (plays sliding notes) So it reiterates the G with that slide. (plays sliding notes) And sometimes I’ll slide back. (plays sliding notes) And sometimes I’ll slide
over to create intervals, or distances, instead of just going, for instance, five, seven, five. (plays notes) Maybe I’m gonna go five, seven, four. (plays notes) And then move into that arpeggio. (plays guitar) And then of course, I’ve got bending. (bends notes) And all these other great
things that you can add in. So this discussion
obviously only introduces you to different concepts. You’re still gonna have to study ’em. You’re gonna have to be introduced to them, which is what I’m
trying to do right now. You’re gonna have to study them, practice them, memorize them, and then ultimately, apply them in whatever way you see fit, whether
you like to play slow, or fast, or pentatonic, or diatonic, whatever it is that you like. But the trick is, is you
need to break out of just (plays quickly) If you like that, and you
like the way you play, then there’s nothing to worry about. But if you wish you did it a little bit differently, then that’s
where you start thinking, okay, well, maybe what I’ll do is, instead of, I can see the scale, but instead of just playing it, I’m going to think about
playing more intervallically. Again, what I mean by that is just jumping over things to create larger distances. (plays guitar) Now I’m playing A minor pentatonic here. The other thing would be the arpeggio. Now, I’ve got an A minor chord (plays chord)
sitting right there. So I could (picks out notes) I could emphasize any of those notes, or play an intervallic
idea by going through it. (picks notes on guitar) And then follow that with (plays guitar) some sort of intervallic movement. And then of course, I’ve got
the creative movement idea of being able to play more horizontally. (plays guitar) And then add in the subtle elements, like bending, or vibrato, or hammer-ons, or pull-offs, or whatever
it is that you might like. So hopefully that helps you a little bit in thinking a little
bit more outside the box of just playing a scale, and let me know how it goes for you. Make a comment, and lemme know if that helps you a little bit, and certainly share if
you find this useful. Share it with somebody else, and we’ll see if we can’t make their
guitar playing a little more successful for themselves, and make them feel a little bit better. So take care, stay positive,
and I’ll talk to you soon.