Don’t fear cause improvisation is near.

Dave Gilmour Guitar improvising guitar lessons

Improvisation, when first attempted can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. The best piece of advice I was ever given when I first started attempting solos during my guitar lessons was to adopt the KISS principle, that is, keep it simple stupid.

Many of what are to considered to be classic guitar solos of the last 40 years are often a simple collection of note and lick ideas played in varying combinations over simple chord progressions, think ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ by Clapton or more recently ‘Gravity’ by John Mayer.

There are a variety of ways to begin the ongoing and never ending learning process of improvising. My suggestion is to start by using a backing track that consists of maybe two or three chords. A simple ’12 bar blues’ backing from YouTube will work well, as would a two-chord vamp, say a D minor to G7. I’ll assume in writing this that anyone reading and wanting to attempt improvisation has at least the Pentatonic minor scale under their belt, or the first major scale shape. If it’s a Dminor to G7 chord the C major shape will work well, if it’s a blues in G, a G pentatonic scale will work nicely.

The thing to remember when starting out here is that there is no need to play a complicated series of passages to make beautiful music, in fact the opposite is true. Playing a simple lick idea of only two notes, on the same string, can actually sound incredibly soulful and pleasing to the listener. It really is as simple as that, hit play on the backing track, find two to three notes that sound ‘sweet’ over the chords and be as creative as you can.

The real challenge with improvisation is in discovering the music that you can hear and feel inside you and producing that on the fretboard. Don’t be afraid to close your eyes when you first start, it can actually help focus your attention on the music you’re making.

More on improvising next week, and possibly the week after and possibly the week after that. So much to talk about with this subject.

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