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Lyle Ronglien >> Improvising 101 >>

Improvising 101

Lesson 3

Lyle: Some of your favorite lead guitarists started out learning their favorite licks off their record collections. They took those licks and stylistic influences from their heroes of the day and used them to create their own sound. You might have already learned a bunch of licks from your favorite guitarist like B.B. King, Clapton, Hendrix etc. and have used them in some of your own jams. One of the best and easiest ways to learn to improvise is to use licks you've already learned and string them together. In this lesson you'll learn licks in the styles of a few of our modern day guitar heroes and experiment with putting them together in any order you want.

Lyle: In this mp3 sample I'm playing many of the different licks that you'll learn in this lesson. Some of them are very recognizable. See if you can figure out "who" each lick is or what song it's from.

Lyle: You'll be working in the key of E in this lesson, mostly the E minor Pentatonic. The E minor pentatonic scale is made from 5 notes: E - G - A - B - D, which is the root, b3, 4, 5, b7 of the E major scale.

Lyle: Here's the jam track you'll use to play along to:

Lyle: This jam track uses just 2 chords: D to E. We wont be covering very much theory or techniques in this lesson. You'll just have some fun by experimenting with different licks that you might not have thought of playing together. Let's learn the first lick. This is a Hendrix style lick that you might recognize.

Lyle: Having fun yet?

Spirit: Yeah man!!

Lyle: Good. Now try this Metallica style lick:

Lyle: Both of these licks can be played back to back with the jam track. Listen to this mp3 sample of how they sound together:

Lyle: Now it's your turn. Try playing both licks together a few times like in the sample. Of course you don't want to sound exactly like someone else, so you change the lick a little bit. By changing the way you start or end the lick, or even something in the middle of the lick, you may come up with your own sounding lick.

Lyle: Let's try Clapton and Santana style licks. First, the Clapton style lick:

Lyle: Now put that together with a Santana style lick:

Lyle: Play them together like I've done in this mp3 sample:

Lyle: Let's try a Hendrix and Clapton style licks together.

Lyle: Now try playing them together like in this mp3 sample:

Lyle: Next you'll learn a David Gilmour and another Santana style lick.

Lyle: This lick was originally played in the middle of the neck, key of B minor. I've just transposed it or moved it up the neck to E minor to fit with the jam track we're using.

Lyle: Listen to how they go together in this sample:

Lyle: Next we'll try something a little different. First learn this Gilmour style lick.

Lyle: Ok, now don't laugh here, you're going to learn a little melody from "Row, row, row your Boat".

Lyle: Combine the Pink Floyd style lick with the Row your Boat lick and you'll get this:

Lyle: OK, a bit of theory now. Since the jam track is using 2 major chords; D and E, this is a very good indication that you're in the key of A major. The D and E chords are called the 4th and 5th chords in the harmonized A major scale. This means you can play any notes in the A major scale along with the jam track and it will sound right.

Lyle: Try playing the A major scale along with the jam track and you'll hear the notes harmonically fit together.

Lyle: Next is a lick example from one of my guitar lesson CD-ROMs, Progressive Rock Guitarists. It uses the A major scale pattern along with the jam track.

Lyle: Combine the last lick with this familiar melody for a truly interesting sound.

Lyle: Here's what they sound like when played together:

Lyle: Since the D and E chords are the 4th and 5th chords in the key of A major, you can use the E mixolydian mode to solo with.

Lyle: Now you'll put together 3 licks in a row.

Lyle: Here's another lick from my CD-ROM "Progressive Rock Guitarists". It's using the E mixolydian mode in sequences of 4 notes at a time.

Lyle: Here's a Steve Vai style lick:

Lyle: Take those 2 licks and combine them with a lick from earlier in the lesson, the Hendrix style lick 2.

Lyle: Here's what these 3 licks sound like together:

Lyle: After you have learned some or all these licks and experimented on your own, go back to the beginning of this lesson and listen to the lesson sample. You'll hear some of these lick examples being played in a different order than what I just presented here.

Lyle: Try playing any of these licks just like they are or in your own way along to the jam track. Change a few of the notes or bend certain notes of the lick to create and develop your own style.

Spirit: Cool!!

Lyle: Try this:

Spirit: cool..Rude Dolph uses the "BB Box"

Lyle: The possibilities are endless.

Lyle: That’s all for this lesson. If you would like further study on this topic or any other topic, email me at for info on how you can get your own customized guitar lessons like this using Riff Interactive technology. Your private lessons can be downloaded to your pc for anytime, anywhere study. Thanks and see you at the next lesson. - Lyle

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