Banjo Ben

Great Video On Improv

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Re: Great Video On Improv

Postby Julian » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:43 pm

verneq wrote:I agree and remember the day I noticed that the pentatonic scales fit into the modes and other scales, it was a major revelation. The problem for me was it acted as crutch and I sat on my pentatonic licks and runs for too long.


My name's Julian and I'm a recovering pentatonaholic. Pentatonic stuff is like a trap -- fall into it far enough, and you might never manage to claw your way out. Especially on electric guitar, it's so easy to develop a pentatonic style that is focused on the left-hand (slides, pull-offs, hammer-ons) and really neglects the picking hand. Many intermediate-level blues/pentatonic electric guitar players only pick once per string; the other notes are sounded with the left hand. I used to be one of those people, but I managed to climb out of the trap. The deadly combination of pentatonic scales, along with my (former) preference for fingerpicking, meant I only picked (or finger-plucked) the string once, even when I played multiple notes per string.
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Re: Great Video On Improv

Postby Oldhat » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:49 pm

Julian wrote:
verneq wrote:I agree and remember the day I noticed that the pentatonic scales fit into the modes and other scales, it was a major revelation. The problem for me was it acted as crutch and I sat on my pentatonic licks and runs for too long.


My name's Julian and I'm a recovering pentatonaholic. Pentatonic stuff is like a trap -- fall into it far enough, and you might never manage to claw your way out. Especially on electric guitar, it's so easy to develop a pentatonic style that is focused on the left-hand (slides, pull-offs, hammer-ons) and really neglects the picking hand. Many intermediate-level blues/pentatonic electric guitar players only pick once per string; the other notes are sounded with the left hand. I used to be one of those people, but I managed to climb out of the trap. The deadly combination of pentatonic scales, along with my (former) preference for fingerpicking, meant I only picked (or finger-plucked) the string once, even when I played multiple notes per string.



Very good observation. I guess part of me with the wanting to become a better improv guy is relying on the ease of falling into the pentatonic scales. So you are saying for me to avoid going down this path even though I am not a finger picker? What is your suggestion in how one should go about it? I am all ears. As I can see the scales on the fret board and notes, but fall apart on my breaks on the fly as sometimes it just turns out not be so "musical" and make sense. I will say that when it does fall apart it's typically on a pentatonic scale and the ability to multiple pick notes like both of you have mentioned but I am not into pentatonic scales that much, I am more disciplined in playing the major scale but am looking for "that" bluegrass sound.
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Re: Great Video On Improv

Postby verneq » Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:42 pm

I think practice a couple things 1) fiddle tunes and the licks encompassed (especially the turnarounds) within will help with musicality plus they go beyond the pentatonic sometimes and 2) what the guy in the video said, in your break you should be able to hear the chord changes. You are right bluegrass helps when I was in pentatonicville I was playing mostly rock/blues, bluegrass breaks tie more back to the melody ( which if you know great) but i sense you are frustrated with jamming on songs you don't know as well. Anyway, even before the video i was trying this, but try practicing solos truly solo, no backing music. If you can hear the chord changes Or the melody of the song i think you are on the right track. Of course if this was easy everyone would do it and they don't.
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Re: Great Video On Improv

Postby Julian » Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:54 am

Oldhat wrote: So you are saying for me to avoid going down this path even though I am not a finger picker? What is your suggestion in how one should go about it? I am all ears.


I don't know; all I know is I was 'stuck' in pentatonicville for quite some time, and it was because I wasn't a good picker. Once my picking improved, I got out of the trap.

Pentatonic scales, especially pentatonic minors, just "fit" on the guitar very well. They're a crutch that allows us to play fast. So yeah, everyone should know how to use these patterns.

But the problem, as I see it, is that they're not very musical. You can play pentatonic patterns up and down, but there is no real melody. For the most part, it's just noise. I can plug my electric guitar into an amp and play real fast metal-sounding solos, but there's nothing that's really musical about it. It doesn't satisfy me very much. That's why I describe my experience as being in a trap - yes, I could play rapid notes, but the notes didn't really mean anything.

The other thing I don't particularly like about them is that pentatonic stuff doesn't transfer very well to other instruments. Guitar wasn't invented to be a lead instrumetn like the fiddle, but when people started trying to play lead guitar, they found that pentatonic scales are the easiest thing to play on the guitar in closed positions. On other instruments they sound ridiculous, in my opinion.

I'm not trying to give advice. I'm just relating my experience of starting with pentatonic stuff and finding it extremely unsatisfying. Yes, it can be used to play fast over chord changes, but it doesn't really sound good if that's all I ever do.

There are millions of casual guitar players who can play some pentatonic patterns to impress their friends. But I'm sure they'd all give their eye teeth to be able to play Ben's breaks for something really melodic.
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Re: Great Video On Improv

Postby ldpayton » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:58 am

I was 'stuck' in pentatonicville for quite some time, and it was because I wasn't a good picker. Once my picking improved, I got out of the trap.


I can understand that! Before I started practicing seriously, I thought I was pretty good at improvising - all I needed was the pentatonic scale (to hide my lack of theory), a bunch of sustain (to hide my lack of speed), and little overdrive (to hide my lack of tone).

Now, after two years of hard work, I realize I'm pretty lousy at improvising. I guess that's progress.
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Re: Great Video On Improv

Postby ozicaveman » Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:40 am

Now, after two years of hard work, I realize I'm pretty lousy at improvising. I guess that's progress.

:lol: :lol: :lol: Tell me about it!
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