Working on set ideas, scales and patterns are necessary to achieve technique and coordination, and it also gets your ear used to hearing different sounds. For many players the end goal might be the freedom to play however you like without being restricted by technique. Whether or not this is achievable, added technique and facility can definitely open up new options in your playing. Continuing on from last month with the idea of putting our legato and picking practice to work, let’s check out some more ideas.
Figure A works on two note per string fingerings. With a G dorian sound it contains some interesting intervals and could work over Gm/7/6/9 etc. to begin with, but also C7/9 and the like too. Although it has some bigger stretches and may take a little work to build up speed, those familiar with the minor pentatonic scale shouldn’t find it too much extra work. Try alternate picking or hammer-ons and pull-offs for a smoother legato sound.
Try Figure B over Cmaj7 or maj9, D/C or G6/maj7/maj9. The F# creates some tension when hearing C as a root and, like the last example, there are a few interesting intervals which add some nice space. From a technique point of view it alternates three and two notes per string with an extra note on top at the end, the high E, so you can pick, hammer-on/pull-off or even sweep some sections.
Starting on F# Figure C could work over a B minor sounding chord, try A6, Amaj9 or even A7 resolving to D6. And a quick note - some of these ideas might sound a little different at first, as a lot of guitarists will be used to the minor pentatonic scale, and possibly the major pentatonic and major scale. There’s nothing wrong with this at all and it’s worked for tonnes of players for a long time. Often it’s the intervals rather than the actual notes that might sound foreign though. Guitar is obviously going to have guitar-centric sounds, that is - those that are easy/taught to us/commonplace. This might also be the reason many guitarists try to emulate other instruments such as piano and saxophone by trying to employ a different sound rather than the same old typical guitar fingerings and scales. Either way, don’t think you have to be limited to fingers, patterns and shapes you’ve always seen. Try stretches that you normally wouldn’t, work up and down strings, start on different fingers and aim for that not so common notes sometimes. Plenty of guitar greats have created interesting sounds and shapes that break the standard guitar mould, so try and create some of your own to really make it hit home.