I've been in a pentatonic-ridden plateau for a few years now...

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Hey guys,

So I've been playing guitar since I was a young teenager, and I've always loved it and had a true passion for it. But after heading to university four years ago, I haven't had the time to invest the necessary amount of time on guitar in order to keep excelling. Long story short, I've been playing the same minor blues scale for literally four years now. I currently find myself in a position capable of investing a little bit more time into constructive practices for my music theory. 

So my question to you all is: whats next after I've butchered the pentatonic scales? I've tried to look at modes, but I struggled to get a grip on it. Have any of you ever gone through a similar situation? If so, I would love to hear some advice on how you got through it and continued to excel. I love the guitar, but I really don't want to be playing pentatonics my whole life. 

My guitar heroes are Jimi Hendrix, Kirk Hammett and John Mayer. Interesting combination, I know. But I figured I'd mention the style of music I want to be able to master. 

Cheers!

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  • I use arpeggios in solos to break out of the pentatonic rut, and they highlight chord changes better. Modes are good but you have to know where the intervals are in relation to each other so its doesn't sound scale like when you solo.

    The natural minor can be a good way to darken up a minor key solo too with an added 2nd and minor 6th.
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  • MayneheadMaynehead Frets: 1170
    I found the minor scale was a natural progression on from pentatonics. It will add interesting colouration to your leads. After you've gotten used to adding a couple of extra notes to your pentatonic runs, the other modes should be easier to learn.

    What I would say though is don't try to learn them all. Find a mode that you like the sound of, and fits your style, (e.g. Kirk Hammett favours the Dorian mode a lot) and stick to it.
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  • KareemMonzerKareemMonzer Frets: 0
    edited November 2017
    @Lestratcaster @Maynehead That's great advice guys, I'll try to look into them! Thanks a lot
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  • Natural minor and Dorian are good places to start as you already know the minor pentatonic, its just adding 2 extra intervals. Dorian contains a major 6 and nat minor a flat 6th, so just shift when you need a particular sound. 
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  • aord43aord43 Frets: 285
    Personally I'd simply like to get the most out of those pentatonic scales.  I am startlingly unoriginal, and don't have many licks.
    I am finding that learning more of other people's solos helps.  Perhaps that would help with the OP too?
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1681
    Natural minor and Dorian are good places to start as you already know the minor pentatonic, its just adding 2 extra intervals. Dorian contains a major 6 and nat minor a flat 6th, so just shift when you need a particular sound. 
    This is a good place to start. It allows you to introduce additional notes one at a time to the pentatonic, which you already know. You can hear what each note adds to the sound and feel of the pentatonic. You can learn how to use the new notes in phrases, still using the pentatonic as your frame of reference.
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  • xpia98jfxpia98jf Frets: 306
    If your guitar heroes are Jimi Hendrix, Kirk Hammett and John Mayer why are you worried about only playing pentatonics? 
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  • @pia98jf hahaha I guess you're right, but for some reason, I still don't sound like them! I guess its the creativity within a particular pentatonic scale that I feel limited to...

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  • A good one for me is the solo from All Right Now... Ok...you stopped reading. Hear me out! 

    It's an incredibly clever use of two different scales with some nice triads. 

    Written by a, then, 16 year old... Blows me away! 

    My Trading Feedback    |    You Bring The Band

    Just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you
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  • I use arpeggios in solos to break out of the pentatonic rut, and they highlight chord changes better. Modes are good but you have to know where the intervals are in relation to each other so its doesn't sound scale like when you solo.

    The natural minor can be a good way to darken up a minor key solo too with an added 2nd and minor 6th.
    I'm in a similar boat to the OP (except maybe add 6-7 years :P). How would you play the arpeggios of simple Major/Minor chords? I understand arpeggios in a Jazz context when almost every chord has at least 4 notes, but how do you apply that to a Rock/Pop song that just has triads? Is each one just 3 notes or do you embellish a little?
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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 10128
    a pentatonic-ridden plateau for a few years? ..... you're lucky, I fell into a pentatonic pit 30 years ago and broke both legs on hitting the floor. I gave up trying to escape years ago.

    I used to try and send notes out for help but I stopped after 5. I ran out of ideas.
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  • I use arpeggios in solos to break out of the pentatonic rut, and they highlight chord changes better. Modes are good but you have to know where the intervals are in relation to each other so its doesn't sound scale like when you solo.

    The natural minor can be a good way to darken up a minor key solo too with an added 2nd and minor 6th.
    I'm in a similar boat to the OP (except maybe add 6-7 years :P). How would you play the arpeggios of simple Major/Minor chords? I understand arpeggios in a Jazz context when almost every chord has at least 4 notes, but how do you apply that to a Rock/Pop song that just has triads? Is each one just 3 notes or do you embellish a little?
    I focus on the 3 main intervals of said major/minor chords, the root (same note as the chord e.g G will be the root of a G) the 3rd and the 5th. So when the chord comes about, then you play those intervals from it.
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  • If you are into Jimi Hendrix and are coming from a Rock perspective then I suggest you look at your rhythm playing. Learning Phrygian dominant with double twist scales are okay, but in the real world good rhythm chops are where it's at.
    For me the best thing about Jimi was his use of chords and the way he connects them. Have a look at this Guthrie Govan lesson on the Hendrix style.



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  • I'm almost the same, can play in Minor Key all day, but have to mainly compose rather than improvise in Major Keys. Try moving to Major progressions, understanding playing over Blues Standards(Major Blues Progression) can open up many new possibilities.

    Don't think of it as just "Boring Old Man Blues". You hear Blues licks and influence all over the place in Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Pop and Funk.

    These videos are really helpful as a starter. They emphasise the importance of Chord Tones. Blues is not easy, the b7 in the chords and the changes provide challenges, but also give licence to variety in soloing.









    30 years, man and boy!
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  • baj25baj25 Frets: 2
    Great thread. I've been stuck with the same scale for 40 years now, but as somebody mentioned earlier, I use it as a framework and add notes where I think they'll work. Once in a while they do...
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  • Try playing in alternate tunings. 
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • Move you pentatonic shapes 2 frets higher. Dorian!
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  • vizviz Frets: 4697
    edited November 2017
    There are 10 available pentatonic scales (or modes) - five of one shape, five of another. Each group of five has some major flavoured scales and some minor ones. If you like scales, try them all!
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  • BarneyBarney Frets: 337
    I would say learn the major scale iff you havnt already in all 5 positions plus the extended 3 nps ones ....a lot of people thing they know these but when it comes down to it dont' really .. then probably Mel minor scale by flattening the 3rd then the diatonic arps from both of these ....loads of work but worth it in the long run :)

    Also try learning scales up and down the fretboard on single strings as well as across
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  • robgilmorobgilmo Frets: 977
    edited November 2017
    I am pretty much in the same boat, I found this which is helpful,  https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/pentatonic_scales.html , The caged system in the video looks very interesting, and much more interesting than sitting playing scales over and over again, playing rhythm and lead together seems a much more natural way to learn.
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  • bwetsbwets Frets: 24
    I would say forget scales, work out your solos in your head and then find it on guitar.
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  • ExorcistExorcist Frets: 233
    FWIW looking at it from a different angle, - try mixing up the rhythm of your noodling, so for example, instead of ba - ba - ba - ba - ba - ba -ba, go for baba - ba - baba baba - ba - baba baa (or anything new), and try adding the odd chromatic passing note, and targeting notes to finish the phrase. 
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  • vizviz Frets: 4697
    bwets said:
    I would say forget scales, work out your solos in your head and then find it on guitar.
    Yes
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  • NelsonPNelsonP Frets: 403
    edited November 2017
    I find 'Elevated jam Tracks' on YouTube quite useful for this:


    You get a picture with every possible note in each mode and a nice chord sequence to jam over it.
    It's a bit 'learning by rote' but you do pick up some stuff as long as fall completely into aimless noodling.

    Maybe pick a mode (e.g. Dorian, Aeolian) and then just jam over the relevant tracks for a bit?

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  • edited November 2017
    Learning the different scales/modes is great and all, but I've always found it better to find tracks/solos that I like the sound of and work backwards.

    Learn the solo without thinking about the theory, then 'reverse engineer' to figure out how it all works theory wise. Then you can try putting into action what you've learned with your own songs/solos/jams or whatever.

    Great one to start for a Hendrix fan would be the album version of Red House, see how he blends major and minor blue scales effortlessly. 
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1416
    Exorcist said:
    instead of ba - ba - ba - ba - ba - ba -ba, go for baba - ba - baba baba - ba - baba baa 
    Are you the black sheep of your family?
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  • ExorcistExorcist Frets: 233
    BRISTOL86 said:
    Exorcist said:
    instead of ba - ba - ba - ba - ba - ba -ba, go for baba - ba - baba baba - ba - baba baa 
    Are you the black sheep of your family?
    haha - I am as it happens!!


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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 2569
    When I saw the thread title I thought Eric Clapton had joined the forum...

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  • I also avoided modes for years, decades even. Then one day I was jamming with a friend and I decided that the "find the root note of the chord, frantically fumble a pentatonic scale, repeat for next chord" approach would no longer suffice. For the next few months I bought a  Hal Leonard guitar theory book and worked through it patiently until I finally had a solid grasp of all those annoying terms like 'Sus 4 'and 'dominant 7th' chords'. After that, learning modes became quite easy. I now wonder why I found it so daunting all those years... So anyhow, the moral of this story is: If I managed to pull myself out of the Pentatonic quagmire after 20+ years of indolent wallowing in its benignly flatulent stench, anyone can. 
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  • nothing wrong with the pentatonic as a base for many to start from - add a flat 5th as required - blend the minor 3rd and major 3rd as required - then add the 6th and 9th - They don't all work all the time and some work better as you move up the scale as against down - just try and find these notes then doodle and play phrases you know, then add or or two additional notes as required - certainly adds a 'jazzy' flavour and/or fusion flavour to blues licks in the style of Robben Ford etc - works for 50's style rockabilly and swing as well - Works for Wes Montgomery as well - remember no rules and that these additional notes don't work all the time, but they are a simple way to embellish what you have
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