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Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:33 pm
by LazyLightning72
Ok,
Now that I am getting back into playing after such a long time, I want to use this as an opportunity to fix some really bad habits I have.

One of the worst habits I fell into and never corrected came while learning a song. I could learn the different parts, sometimes by ear, others with tab. I’d get to where I could play it and move onto the next one. I never stopped to learn any “theory” of any kind. I could play the solo to a song, but have no idea what scale was used, etc...

When I came back to playing in ‘13/‘14 (After many years without playing at all, didn’t even own a guitar during that time) I tried to do what I’m setting out to do now. I learned the 5 position of the minor pentatonic, but knowing and using them in a meaningful way are two different things. Unfortunately right as I started to make any headway I broke my neck in 2015. Well everything, including playing guitar came to a screeching hault.

Without learning these things I am having a VERY hard time, when it comes to doing my own soloing, or even improv.

Anyhow,
Its time to fix this. I doubt anyone following my gear threads has any question I’m trying to play similar to Jerry. I have no delusions that I will ever play exactly like him, because I am not him. I do however believe it is very possible, to learn to play in a way that is similar in many aspects.

Every time I look up where to start with scales, modes, whatever, I see one of two answers. Either the 5 positions of the minor pentatonic is suggested, or the major scale because it is the start of all “theory”, that everything, chords, modes, etc... all come from knowing the major scale/positions

From some of you that already have a grasp on some theory, what is the best way to approach this? Should I just start over where I left off with the minor pentatonic, or learn the major scale first?

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:19 pm
by Jon S.
This is a deep topic. Here's what I can suggest for starters. I'm sure others will have more to say.

Focusing on scales is one way to solo. Or on intervals. Or chord tones.

I learned, originally, to solo focusing on scales. As a result, I sounded like a scale-based player. As I learned more about, and how to use, intervals and chord tones, my solos moved towards using fewer notes while making better use of the ones I used.

Regardless, you'll likely want to nail these scales, for starters. The order isn't critical. Though, for Dead, many would say start with the Myxolydian mode.

  • Ionian mode (major scale)
  • Mixolydian mode (major scale w/flat 7)
  • Minor (b3 &b7 are the most important; b5 and b6 can be, too)
For all the effort you put on your pedalboard, I'd suggest adding a looper, especially since IIRC you said in another thread you lack others to jam with. Then you can solo indefinitely over whatever chord changes you like.

Another thing you can do is just what Jerry said in an interview he did: learn first to play, using single notes, the melodies to the songs you want eventually to solo over. That alone will teach you a lot about of chord tones, intervals, and scales.

So much more here to explain. The important thing is get started now!

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:46 pm
by LazyLightning72
Thanks Jon,
Yes I am planning to get a looper, last night I used audacity to record a portion of an Eyes jam I wanted to play too. It worked out alright for that instance.

I guess I shouldn’t say I don’t know anything about scales. You pick things up over the years, even if your not trying to. I just never put any effort into it, out of laziness when I was much younger, then out of habit after doing things a certain way for so long.

When I played before my extended break (the pre ‘13/‘14 revival of playing if you will) I did play with a few guys somewhat regularly, always in the rhythm spot though.

When I decided I wanted to start playing seriously again, that’s when I made the decisions to focus on lead.

I just do not want to make the same mistakes again, or take shortcuts. That’s not going to challenge me musically and will just serve to keep me from ever growing as a player.

Thanks for your suggestion!

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:14 pm
by TI4-1009
Jon S. wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:19 pm


Another thing you can do is just what Jerry said in an interview he did: learn first to play, using single notes, the melodies to the songs you want eventually to solo over. That alone will teach you a lot about of chord tones, intervals, and scales.
This.

Jerry was all about the melody. That and soloing off the notes of the chord.

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:45 pm
by wabisabied
Why one or the other? It all rolls into one!

I’m not as accomplished a player as many here, and not emulating Jerry, just influenced, but here’s a bit of what I think, based on what’s been helpful to me.

Major scale, yes. As you seem to already be aware, you will find it very useful as you explore everything else.

Pentatonic, sure, but both minor and Major, plus blue notes for both. The Major blues scale, just Major pentatonic plus a flatted 3rd, is very Jerry. If you already know the minor pentatonic scale, an easy way to quickly get the Major pentatonic scale is to understand that it's the same notes as the minor pentatonic of its relative minor. (ie: C Major pent scale notes = A minor pent scale notes.)

Know all of your chord shapes up and down the neck. You can use them to roadmap your solo through the chord changes, playing only chord tones at first, then layering in the additional scale notes and chromatics as you get more familiar and can seek them out.

Modes, eventually, but try to learn them all and understand what they are and why, rather than just a set of notes with a name. It can be a mind-bender, and will take time and patience, but it's worth digging into. One of those things where I think it’s better to learn fully and then discard what you don’t need, than to cherry-pick pieces and not really understand how they fit into the bigger picture. I’m definitely still working on it.

I also second the loop station recommendation. Not only is it fun to solo over, but making the loops will do wonders for your timing and awareness of space when playing rhythm.

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:44 pm
by LazyLightning72
wabisabied wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:45 pm
I also second the loop station recommendation. Not only is it fun to solo over, but making the loops will do wonders for your timing and awareness of space when playing rhythm.
Have one on the way.

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:23 pm
by LazyLightning72
Ok, let me see if I have this part correct,

There are 12 keys in the major scale
There are 7 positions/shapes
Each of these positions/shapes are also the different modes
Each of the positions/shapes are identical regardless of the key, as long as you start with the root note on the low E.

That said, and if it is indeed correct. Why do so MANY people only suggest learning the 5 positions/shapes, instead of all seven? Is the 5 what is considered the “CAGED” system?

Because it would seem to me, go ahead and learn all 7 so you know them.

If I’m correct with all the info above, then I guess I had an “ahaaa” moment last night, while practicing.

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:52 pm
by lbpesq
The CAGED system refers to chord shapes as you go up the neck. Start with an open C chord. You can then move up the neck and play a C chord by fingering an open A shaped chord on the fifth fret. Then move it up again and finger an open G shaped chord starting on the seventh fret. Then move it up again and get your C chord playing an open E shape on the ninth fret (barreing the eighth fret), and finally make an open D shaped chord starting on the twelfth fret to again play a C chord. Thus, the shapes you are playing are: C. A. G. E. D. You can use this pattern to play the same chord with different voicings and also to help with soloing,

Bill, tgo

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Sat Sep 19, 2020 3:49 pm
by LazyLightning72
Thank you very much for that explanation Bill!

CAGED system aside, am I correct with my above assessment of the major scales, positions, modes?

It was like a switch went off while I was playing last night and looking at some of this stuff more in depth.

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Sun Sep 20, 2020 1:23 pm
by LazyLightning72
Jon S. wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:19 pm
Another thing you can do is just what Jerry said in an interview he did: learn first to play, using single notes, the melodies to the songs you want eventually to solo over. That alone will teach you a lot about of chord tones, intervals, and scales.
I’ve taken what you have all said and starting to put it into practice. Right now I am working to learn the Major scale/positions/how they connect up and down the fretboard. Learning which position, is what mode, etc...

However since you posted this, I have dedicated 30-45min of practice time every night, focusing completely on this concept. It must be sinking in, cause I got my Boss Loop Station Pedal and hooked it up last night. After practice, I made a very simple loop of the chord changes where Jerry is soloing in Estimated. Using just one shape of the major scale, I sat there for nearly an hour, just doing some improv. It got to a point where I wasn’t even thinking about what to play, and just let what felt good happen. I can say it was hands down my best improv playing. 80% of the time I would come away from an attempt at improv, I was ALWAYS disappointed and discouraged. Not last night, I came away not just feeling good about it, but knowing it’s only going to get better from here.

Anyhow, just thought I would update on some progress.
Hope you all had good weekends!

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Sun Sep 20, 2020 2:44 pm
by wabisabied
Glad you’re finding that sense of discovery with the “aha” moments! I did some practicing with that tip from Jon S yesterday, too, just picking out the melody to Ripple on my acoustic, and it was really fun and useful.

I started writing the stuff below before your latest post, which makes it sound like you’re on the right track, but I’ll post anyway. Sorry if it’s stuff you already know.

There is one major scale. Instead of shapes and positions, try to learn it as a set of tonal intervals. By that I don’t mean throw away what you’ve already figured out, but those shapes and positions are kind of like islands in a sea of knowledge, and learning the intervals will help connect a lot of dots between those islands.

Put simply there is either a Whole step or Half step interval between each note in the Major scale. Starting on the root that’s W-W-H-W-W-W-H (the last H lands you back on the root.) This is easier to visualize on a keyboard: the key of C Major is all white keys, which make the above intervals obvious (C-D-E-F-G-A-B).

Once you’ve internalized the Major scale, you can begin to explore the modes. I’m not qualified to write a book about that, but you’ll want to learn the modes themselves, and also piece together how they relate to chords and other scales. Then you’ll begin to recognize where particular modes fit with different types of chords based on shared tones.

Keep having fun with it!

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:53 pm
by LazyLightning72
wabisabied wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 2:44 pm
I did some practicing with that tip from Jon S yesterday, too, just picking out the melody to Ripple on my acoustic, and it was really fun and useful.

I started writing the stuff below before your latest post, which makes it sound like you’re on the right track, but I’ll post anyway. Sorry if it’s stuff you already know.
Agree 100%, it was some solid advice. Glad I’m not the only one benefiting from this thread.

Funny enough, during my afternoon cigar earlier I was reading about the major scale, and came across a discussion about the: W,W,H,W,W,W,H steps in relation to it.

Thanks for the advice my friend!

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Sun Sep 20, 2020 4:03 pm
by Jon S.
LazyLightning72 wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:53 pm
the major scale ... W,W,H,W,W,W,H steps in relation to it.
Here's the best part: even when you hit a clam, you're never more than a half step away from one of the "right" notes.

And when you hit a clam, heed the wisdom of Jerry Garcia and Carlos Santana:

Jerry: “You go diving for pearls every night but sometimes you end up with clams.”

Carlos [paraphased]: When I make a mistake, I'll often repeat it deliberately quickly thereafter. Then people think I intended it!*

* AKA:

Image

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Sun Sep 20, 2020 4:18 pm
by LazyLightning72
Lol, an interesting way to look at it.

Re: Fixing Bad Habits, Scales

PostPosted:Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:20 pm
by lbpesq
“Carlos [paraphased]: When I make a mistake, I'll often repeat it deliberately quickly thereafter. Then people think I intended it!*”

Another name for this is “Jazz”.

hehehehe

Bill, tgo