Use Fingerexcercises to Inspire and Improve Your Solos, Songs and Compositions

For this article I will give you a few tips as how you can use fingerexcersises as a musical tool rather than only a mechanical devise to loosen up your fingers.


Combine Linears and Stringskipping ideas:

   Example 1    E –3—-3——-3——-3—      ——————-3—4—5—6
                      B —-6—–6——-6——–6-    -3-4—-5–6——————- 

        Count:        1 and 2 and 3  and  4   and   1 and  2  and   3  and  4 and 

The example above shows an excercise which is played over the high E and B string.
To get more milage out of the excercise play as: 

                             @ Written

                             @ Play first bar, repeat half first bar then play second bar twice

                             @ Play first bar as written, play second bar then move up two frets to repeat second bar

                             @ Treat  the eight notes of the second bar as two small phrases where you play hammer-ons for the second third and fourth note of each phrase.

Treating finger excercises as musical phrases is a good habit, it will help you to become fluent and rapid with your solo ideas all across the fretboard.

Playing Scale-ideas, and linear ideas for too long will tire the listener’s ear. Break up your notes from time to time to introduce new ideas.
The following example is great to cut out of that linear rut:

Example 2

                                                        P                   Play last bar twice
      E –3—–3——3—-3—          ———————————
                                                       ^        P
      B —–6——6—-6—–6         –3–2—————————
                                                                 ^         P
      G —————————       ———–3–2——————-
      D —————————       ——————-3–2———–            
      A  ————————–        —————————–3—–

      E  ————————–        ————————————

Count 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and       1 and   2 and  3 and       4

Observe that the last note of second bar is a whole tone instead of an  eight note.
The first bar is same idea as from previous example, the second bar break away from the idea. It creates a feel of keychange and movement. Playing the last bar twice adds to  the feel of drama.

                    Pentatonic Scales:

Who does not use ’em eh? Playing the pentatonic in position (block playing) can often make you sound like any other guitar player around the block. Break up your position playing by using phrases which only move over one string. Go back from time to time to postion playing to create a feel of stability and tradition.

                   Picking Hand:

Avoid playing long phrases where you use only alternate picking. It is very easy to play fast and automatically by using alternate picking. It is also a good way to make you sound like an automatic robot. Break up your alternate picking with heavy downstrums (downstrums do have more power—-it is a good habit to be able to play any of your riffs/phrases using down/up and alternate picking—-) You can even put some chord ideas in between your phrases to create extra spark, fire and drama. Playing similar ideas for too long gives the listener the idea of: “Heard it all before”. 

Breaking up your patterns with different ideas will add new information to your previous melodic statement, it will make your solos stand out more from the crowd.

              Are these ideas only for the Improvising Guitarist?

No, if you are strickly playing pop-songs in a cover band you can still use any of these ideas to add more individuality to your solos. 
When you start using the ideas you may feel you may start to sound too much that your are playing out of key and that whatever you play does not work any more. Get a feel for how far you can go with “playing outside the box”
When you are playing blues you may feel you go too far against the tradition. Obviously you want to stay in the boundaries of whatever style of music you play, but within these boundaries there is a lot of potential to make you sound like you rather than a copycat who is able to play phrases we have all heard too often before.

Hope to get some videos done soon to demonstrate some of what I mentioned here.
Stay tuned and hope to see you soon again.