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Old 11-27-2017, 04:06 PM
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Default Some Ramblings About Soloing...

I haven't posted much in a while so I thought I'd bring up a few things about my playing lately. The best I ever got with any kind of soloing was about 35 years ago when I was heavily into bluegrass and had a custom Martin D28. I stopped into a small local music store a few times to check out a bluegrass jam they had every Saturday morning. I picked on the tunes I knew and had rehearsed, never trying once to improvise a solo.

Skip ahead to the past 6 months. I inherited a Yairi DY90 super abalone from a wealthy friend who had traveled to Japan to commission K. Yairi to be very hands on with the building of this guitar. My friend was a collector with a basically unlimited budget so a lot of awesome guitars came and went in his collection. This 36 year old Yairi from 1982 was the one guitar that stayed in his collection. He maintained it in near mint condition. Since it was his favorite, he wanted me to have it.

I've been going to a jam every Friday where country music is played every Friday night for over 6 months. There are a lot of older guys there with awesome old Martins, ancient Gibsons and some high dollar Taylors. Since showing up with the Yairi, I can be heard above all of them and most eyes are usually on me. An old Texas music legend who plays breaks on all the songs with the only electric there has been prodding me to do my own leads on the Yairi since I embellish my chord phrasings a lot.

At first I was terrified of the idea since he is always spot on with an appropriate solo for every song played. The first few I did were disasters, mainly because everybody else faltered on the progressions while following me. My solos were totally melody based so I never understood the problem. I got out my Toby Walker Take a Solo cd a few times and went through every exercise. I have started recording myself singing new songs with chord accompaniment to practice lead breaks. So far I have to learn each solo by rote practice in hopes the guys chording along will follow perfectly. I record two or three runs throughs of the progression to practice with.

I'm having a somewhat hard time jumping in on the right note. Actually, I'm having to look down the neck in anticipation of when and where to start. I'm nowhere near being able to improvise solos on the fly and am getting discouraged because of that. At least I can't improvise anything that isn't tied closely to a scale yet. I intend to get there though since the Yairi is a very motivating guitar to play.

Anybody got any suggestions on how to turbocharge my soloing and become more adept at it? Seriously, no suggestion could possibly be too basic. I'm devoted to accomplishing this. It's where I should be by now.
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Old 11-27-2017, 04:17 PM
Jusca Jusca is offline
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edit... nevermind. my suggestion was singing before playing but somehow i missed that in the post that the op does indeed sing lines while practicing.
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Old 11-27-2017, 04:40 PM
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I used to do a lot of soloing on electric, blues and metal, not sure about country jams on acoustic but I imagine it's not a lot different. What used to help me the most was playing along with records, trying to match what I heard, and then gradually moving to replacing what I heard with what I wanted to play instead. So every recorded solo becomes an opportunity to improvise. A side benefit is, your own playing is not so distinct, so you can make mistakes and not get hung up on them, though that can be a drawback too (you don't notice how sloppy you are). But I think it was tremendously helpful for my soloing in the electric blues and metal genres.
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Old 11-27-2017, 04:41 PM
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No suggestions but it's good to hear from you, DK....
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Old 11-27-2017, 05:15 PM
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I work a paper called "The Art of Soloing" and have posted it on my website, HERE. There might something there that you could use.

Bob
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Old 11-27-2017, 05:33 PM
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You could practice along with backing tracks you can download (many are free) off the internet.
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Old 11-27-2017, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKell View Post
The best I ever got with any kind of soloing was about 35 years ago when I was heavily into bluegrass and had a custom Martin D28.

Skip ahead to the past 6 months. I inherited a Yairi DY90 super abalone from a wealthy friend who had traveled to Japan to commission K. Yairi to be very hands on with the building of this guitar. My friend was a collector with a basically unlimited budget so a lot of awesome guitars came and went in his collection. This 36 year old Yairi from 1982 was the one guitar that stayed in his collection. He maintained it in near mint condition. Since it was his favorite, he wanted me to have it..

Anybody got any suggestions on how to turbocharge my soloing and become more adept at it?
Go back to the Martin D-28.
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Old 11-27-2017, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKell View Post
...Skip ahead to the past 6 months. I inherited a Yairi DY90 super abalone from a wealthy friend who had traveled to Japan to commission K. Yairi to be very hands on with the building of this guitar. My friend was a collector with a basically unlimited budget so a lot of awesome guitars came and went in his collection. This 36 year old Yairi from 1982 was the one guitar that stayed in his collection. He maintained it in near mint condition. Since it was his favorite, he wanted me to have it.

I've been going to a jam every Friday where country music is played every Friday night for over 6 months. There are a lot of older guys there with awesome old Martins, ancient Gibsons and some high dollar Taylors. Since showing up with the Yairi, I can be heard above all of them and most eyes are usually on me. ...

Anybody got any suggestions on how to turbocharge my soloing and become more adept at it? Seriously, no suggestion could possibly be too basic. I'm devoted to accomplishing this. It's where I should be by now.
First about your guitar. I'm not sure who prompted me, but it had me searching for DY-90 just today and the recordings I hear left me really impressed. The Yairis standing up to Martins should surprise no one. My first acoustic was purchased in 1980. With $1000 in my pocket I was set on buying a Martin, but the DY-77 (used 1974) won out and surprised me when it only cost me $175 w OHSC. We still have it in the family and it took a really special Martin and 35 years for me to pull the trigger on a D35.

As for soloing... While I don't know you and can't say for sure, there are some that have it, and some that just don't. I'm one of those guys that couldn't improvise a solo to save my life. The best I can do is fake it with pieces of lead solos that I can sort of string together that I've pre-learned and practiced. For me it's just learning by rote and regurgitating what I can. Luckily guitars can be played with patterns. As a trumpet player when it comes to solos, I'm just lost beyond the basics. Put a chart in front of me and I can sight read it up to tempo and often sound like I've practiced it. But solos...errr... no.

I guess it comes down to being able to previsualize musical ideas in one's head and then putting the fingers where they need to go. As I said, some folks have it, some folks don't. So if you can't dazzle em with your footwork, baffle em with your bull.
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Old 11-27-2017, 07:10 PM
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I don't get it. I must be missing something. Why are the people playing rhythm following the lead guitar?
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Old 11-27-2017, 07:48 PM
D18Hoglover D18Hoglover is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Jelly View Post
I don't get it. I must be missing something. Why are the people playing rhythm following the lead guitar?
I wondered about that too. Should't it be the other way round?
That might be part of the problem.
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Old 11-27-2017, 09:54 PM
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Keep your nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel and eyes on the prize.
IOW, keep at it 'til you get it. Persevere.
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Old 11-28-2017, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D18Hoglover View Post
I wondered about that too. Should't it be the other way round?
That might be part of the problem.
I see what you're both saying. I described that event completely wrong. My solo disaster was on a song called Save The Last Dance For Me. After having anchored an orchestra for 15 years on electric bass, I have no issues ever with timing and the tempo of playing. Even though my solo was an exact representation of the melody of the song, for some reason someone played the progression wrong. When this happens in our jam it tends to momentarily derail everybody else as well. I instantly tried to accommodate the solo to the chord played out of sequence and faltered in getting it back on track at the correct tempo. I should have continued playing the melody solo and let them adjust back to me, right?
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Old 11-28-2017, 08:54 AM
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My $0.02 : find a picking partner who can play the rhythms and who will actually take the time to learn tunes with you. I started playing with a guy I met at a bluegrass jam who plays mando/banjo/rhythm guitar, and we both really started to improve with regular weekly sessions. For solos, I actually sat down and figured out some basic "stock" leads to go with the tunes where I had a break. This gives me a foundation I can embellish on later as I think of things to throw in on the fly. I mean, since I already have a "solo" mapped out (I know its not improvisation) it makes it easier to change around as I discover other phrases to throw in. HTH
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Old 11-28-2017, 09:01 AM
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I have an observation about the old guy who plays the lead solos on a Telecaster at this jam I attend. On the songs he has heard before he plays spot on appropriate solos that often sound like the original. I watch his playing closely and try later to come close to what he did. For me it doesn't seem to work like it does for him. It doesn't help me that his solos are full of notes that are all over the place.

I asked him about the value of practicing scales. He said "well, it couldn't hurt. But really you have to know what the next note you're going to fret will sound like. I never practiced a scale once in my life and I played with everyone from Bob Wills to Willie Nelson". Lots of help there, huh? I realize this guy has been playing nearly as long as I've been alive and I can't hope to replicate his ability anytime soon.

Since practicing the songs I'm learning for this Friday I'm finding that ideas for the solo develop in my mind a lot when I'm doing something else besides playing the guitar. I just have to get what I'm hearing in my head to come out my hands!

I remember an encounter at Guitar Center I had with a guy in the acoustic room. When I walked in he said "I can save you a lot of time. That Alvarez hanging there beside you is the best sounding guitar in this room". I picked up the Alvarez and strummed some progressions. He immediately began playing lead accompaniments to my chords. After doing this in a few different keys I was impressed with what he was doing. It was what I had always wanted to accomplish. When I asked him how he got to that point of improvising lead work he said "you have to learn every scale you can". I guess I have to radically change my outlook on scale practice. I find them to be as mind numbing as I do using a treadmill at the gym. Apparently there is as much value in practicing scales as there is to have simply been playing solos like the old guy at my jam has been doing for 60 years.
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Old 11-28-2017, 09:55 AM
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Put in 10,000 hours playing and 20,000 hours listening...
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