How To Improvise On The Guitar Like A Jedi!

Do you want to know how to improvise on the guitar? To be able to completely lose yourself on your guitar, without fear of bum notes or crappy sounding solos. Would be cool right?

When it comes to learning the guitar most of us follow this age old recipe:

  • Learn some chords
  • Mix in a few riffs
  • Throw in a few scales (if you're lucky)
  • Blend it all up into a nice pulp

and hey presto...something resembling music, kinda.

But like a house of cards the slightest nudge and it all comes crashing down! 

​Ever wanted to feel comfortable about improvising?

Does this sound familiar? You're jamming with mates, up comes a bit of song that's ripe for a solo and you get 'the nod' from your mate to take it away...

What you play kind of resembles music, but you know it sucked. You played the same old few notes.

Sucks right! OK, we're going to give you some pointers about how to improvise.

But lets get one things straight - you can't be taught how to improvise. By its very nature improvisation is free form and unpredictable. 

But the good news is there are rules

Yes there are rules you can follow to learn to improvise on the guitar, and that's what we're going to show you. We're going to look at jazz improvisation specifically, because if you can improvise to Jazz it pretty much opens the door to improvising in any other genre: rock, metal, country. 

Capice? Let's take a look >>​

1. Start With The Blues

Interestingly, the foundation of all jazz improvisation is the blues. The first step to learning to improvise is to learn a 12 bar blues. Nope, we don't just start playing scales or lines, we learn structure. One of the keys to guitar improvisation is having a solid understanding of structures. 

2. Learn Rhythms and Patterns

Rhythm? What? I thought you were talking about improvisation? Yep, I am. But underpinning any improvisation is a solid understanding of rhythms too. 

3. Get With Major and Minor Triads

No, we're not talking Chinese gangs. Major and minor triads are the building blocks of chords and we need to learn how and where to play them. A good command of triads up and down the fretboard will propel your fretboard knowledge (and improvising potential) into the stratosphere. 

4. Learn Common Arrangements

Progressions are everywhere in music in general. Rock, country, folk, jazz, they all adhere to progressions in some shape or other. By learning some of the best known arrangements you're basically downloading into your brain the blueprint for how songs work. Why is that important for improvisation? Well, with a solid understanding of arrangements under your belt, it frees your improvising up. Funny hey, with structure comes freedom 🙂

5. Guide Tones: The Midichlorians of Improvisation

For all you Star Wars fans, you'll know exactly what we mean when we say Midichlorians. Guide tones are one of the biggest secrets to guitar improvisation, almost 'an energy field created by all living beings'.

6. Master Arpeggios

If Guide Tones are the Midichlorians of improvisation, arpeggios are the light sabres. Not to be confused with Archipelagos (a geographical term for a small set of islands), arpeggios need to learned, practiced and used throughout improvisation. In fact, whole genres of guitar music (I'm thinking the Gypsy Jazz genre, started by Django Reinhardt) is based largely on arpeggios. 

BONUS

We got so carried away with guitar improvisation and asked one of our guitar friends, expert guitarist and Scandinavian internet sensation Mikko Karhula, to create us a course. For a limited time we're giving you free access. Learn from the pro all the steps you need to learn jazz improvisation....

  • FREE BONUS: Sign up for our 11 Day Guitar Improvisation Video Course
Day 1: Learning The Blues

The foundation of all improvisation, we start with the blues. We cover how to play a 12 bar blues, the A minor pentatonic scales and some easy licks to get you started.

Day 3: Major Triads​

We study major triads in root, first, second and octave inversions and take a look at the classic I-IV-V chord jazz progression​.

Day 5: II-V in Major key​

II-V-I progression in seven major keys with an accompaniment example of jazz standard Satin Doll​.

Day 7: Guide Tones

What are Guide tones of II-V-I, examples of guide lines in different chord progressions and some examples of rhythmic guide lines.

Day 9: Four-chord arpeggios​

Four-chord arpeggios, chord progressions and playing solos with four-chord arpeggios.​

Day 11: Learning licks and pattern​s

Different jazz licks with analysis of scales and chord degrees.​ Wrapping it all up.

Day 2: First own improvisation

In Day 2 we cover rhythm patterns, melodic patterns, and how to choose notes the right notes to play over both.

Day 4: Minor Triads

Minor triads in root, first, second and octave inversions​, with a look at Im-IVm-V7 in different keys and different positions.

Day 6: II-V in Minor key

II-V-I progression in seven minor keys​ with an accompaniment example of Alone Together​.

Day 8: Triad Arpeggios

Major and minor arpeggios​, Dm7, G7 and Cmaj7 chords showed with triads, plus Dm7-G7-Cmaj7 improvisation example using triads​​.

Day 10: Chord and Scale Relation​

All chord degrees of diatonic key in C and F. All that was explained above in theory and one solo example​​

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