Combine Arpeggios And Pentatonic To Unlock Your Improvisation

Use Your Arpeggios Like This!
[Improvisation Lesson]

If you've been playing guitar for a while, chances are you've picked up a few scales here and there, learned about chords and arpeggios, maybe you've even given improvisation a shot.

In today's lesson, although we're covering arpeggios and scales on guitar, the main goal here to boost your creativity.

We're taking the next steps in your creativity journey, in order for you to improvise better on guitar using the different shapes you already know!

We're basically combining scales with arpeggios, adding more variations and depth to your solos. This will instantly make your improvisation sound less repetitive and more melodic.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Review The Scale

For the sake of today's lesson, I'm going to use the blues scale, or the pentatonic scale with the blues note, just so that everyone is on the same page.

Disclaimer: Review any scale you want to improvise with. 

But if you want to follow along, here are all the different shapes of the A minor blues scale:

A Major Scale on the Guitar
A Major Scale on the Guitar
A Major Scale on the Guitar
A Major Scale on the Guitar
A Major Scale on the Guitar

Make sure you get a good hang of whatever scale you wish to use while improvising before moving on tp the next steps.

Since we are in a minor key, you can also use the natural minor scale for this.

A Major Scale on the Guitar

And the same goes for it's relative major scale, in this case C Major.

A Major Scale on the Guitar

Check out minute @2:37 for a demonstration on that.

The main thing here, is being able to play your scale of choice in different areas of the fretboard unlocking more freedom of expression when we start improvising.

Step 2: Review The Arpeggios

For the sake of simplicity I'm going to stick to the standard shapes, but by all means you can use any shapes you know.

Remember, as long as you're playing:
-The the notes of the chord (A-C-E for Am)
- The notes one at a time
It means you're playing an arpeggio.

So here are the shapes, this is a great time to really focus on your technique fingering etc...

A Major Scale on the Guitar

Check out min @4:22 for a quick arpeggio demonstration.

Make sure you play the relevant arpeggio, here we are improvising in the key of A minor therefore we are playing the A minor arpeggios.

If you want to improvise in the key of G Major, you need to review the G Major arpeggio shapes.

Step 3: Scale + Arpeggio

We don't have to worry about being creative right now, what really matters is visualizing the new shapes.

Notice how we're only playing the arpeggios on the highest 3 strings of the guitar (High e, B, and G Strings).

This is only done to keep things simple, but feel free to complicate this as much as you like you could use:
- 5 string arpeggios.
- 7th arpeggios.
- Triads on other strings.

We're also going to stick with just the highest 3 strings of our chosen scale for now. I'm going to ascend the arpeggio and descend the scale.

Important timestamps:

-1st inversion + blues scale position demo check out min @6:07

-2nd inversion + blues scale position 2+3 demo check out min @7:15

Here the 2nd inversion of the minor arpeggio covers both blues scale positions, I chose to play both, but you can chose one or the other.

-Root position + blues scale position 4 demo check out min @7:46

Get very familiar with those new shapes practice them really well because next step is where things get really fun.

Step 4: Improved Improvisation

Let's get creative with our new shapes, I want you to improvise without a backing track first, without any context, this will help unleash your creativity!

Check out @8:31 and check out the licks I came up with on the spot.

Once you get that down, put on a backing track and try to adapt whatever licks you came up with to the track.

Remember you might have to change a few things now:
- Adapt the rhythm
- Change a few notes
- Adapt your timing
- Etc...

The track will shape your creativity, don't ignore it!

Check out min @9:12 for a smooth and slow demo or if you're in the mood for something funkier check out min @9:35.
Final Words:
Now that you know the steps, all you have to do is take them and apply them to any other scales, keys, arpeggios you know.

Doing so will allow you to really stand out when improvising, and grab people's attention, because you are breaking their expectations.

This will also help you hit chord tones more frequently making your improvisation sound more melodic. 

Want to take your soloing to the next level? Do you want to master the guitar fretboard?? Want to seamlessly improvise over any backing track?

If any of those things are true, then you need to check out our premium guitar training program, "guitar elevation'', it might be just the thing you've been missing!
Author: Jack Haddad
Jack Haddad is an expert Guitar educator and teacher and has been helping guitarists, through his innovative methods, get incredible results on the guitar, whether they want to jam with friends or rock out on the big stage.

You can find out more about Jack Haddad's teaching here:
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