Before You Improvise, Listen To The Track!
Go To Scales For Great Soloing
You'll need to have a bunch of scales in your bag of tricks. More Scales = More Freedom While Improvising.
The Minor Pentatonic Scale:
First of which and probably the most basic of them is the minor pentatonic scale.
An since we're improvising in A minor we're going to play the A minor pentatonic scale, here's the first position of that scale.
Now in all honesty as long as you know how to play the minor pentatonic you're good to go, like I mentioned before more scale = more expressive freedom.
But if you're only getting started, the pentatonic scale is a great place to get started.
And most importantly for killer solos/improvisation, what matters is how you use the scales you know.
The Natural Minor Scale: (a.k.a. the Aeolian mode)
The second scale we need to learn for great sounding improvisation is the natural minor scale and we could use any of the 2 shapes showcased in the diagram below.
You can use either shape, it does not matter, Just stick to whichever you are most comfortable with.
The Relative Major Scale:
Every minor scale has a relative Major scale, and every major scale has a relative minor scale.
The word relative indicates that there is a connection or relationship between both of these scales.
Here the connection is that both scales share the same notes.
In this example A minor and C Major are relative scales and both consist of the same notes: A B C D E F G.
But for Am we start and end on A: A B C D E F G A.
Unlike C Where we start and end on C: C D E F G A B C.
Check out min @2:52 for an in depth tutorial.
Here's an easy way to find your relative major/minor scale on the fretboard:
Major -> minor: Move 3 frets down. (Minor third down)
Minor -> Major: Move 3 frets up. (Minor third up)
Check out min @3:53 for a quick demonstration.
So now since we are in A minore the relative key is C Major.
And again here we can use any of these shapes it really doesn't matter. What's really important here is how we end up using our scales.
An there you have it, those were the 3 go to scales you'll need to improvise over an A minor track.
Check out min @5:03 for a demo of all 3 scales over the backing track.
Example: If we were improvising over a track in D minor, we would use:
-The D minor pentatonic scale.
-The D natural minor scale.
-The relative Major scale, F Major.
How To Improvise Using A Relative Scale
Improvise Better Using The Chord Progression
Let's take a step further and focus on emphasizing the root notes, of every chord in our chord progression, to create a melodic lick.
This melodic lick will be my base line while improvising. I can always fall back on this lick whenever I'm not too sure what to play, this is especially helpful for guitarists who are just starting out with improvisation and that haven't gotten their fretboard down completely just yet.
So here's what you do in a nutshel:
-Study the chords.
-Build a melodic line using their root notes. (or other chord tones)
Check out min @9:09 for a demo over the track.
After that you will start to embellish more and go crazy with your improvisation, then come back and acknowledge the track every once in a while.
Check out min @11:01 for a demo over the track.
Remember it's not about how many scales you know, it's about how you use those scale, following this step by step approach will allow you to start improvising like the pros.
If you know more position for each of these scales feel free to use them as well, add some phrasing elements, bends and slide and really have fun with this.
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