#168206  by LazyLightning72
 Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:33 pm
Ok,
Now that I am getting back into playing after such a long time, I want to use this as an opportunity to fix some really bad habits I have.

One of the worst habits I fell into and never corrected came while learning a song. I could learn the different parts, sometimes by ear, others with tab. I’d get to where I could play it and move onto the next one. I never stopped to learn any “theory” of any kind. I could play the solo to a song, but have no idea what scale was used, etc...

When I came back to playing in ‘13/‘14 (After many years without playing at all, didn’t even own a guitar during that time) I tried to do what I’m setting out to do now. I learned the 5 position of the minor pentatonic, but knowing and using them in a meaningful way are two different things. Unfortunately right as I started to make any headway I broke my neck in 2015. Well everything, including playing guitar came to a screeching hault.

Without learning these things I am having a VERY hard time, when it comes to doing my own soloing, or even improv.

Anyhow,
Its time to fix this. I doubt anyone following my gear threads has any question I’m trying to play similar to Jerry. I have no delusions that I will ever play exactly like him, because I am not him. I do however believe it is very possible, to learn to play in a way that is similar in many aspects.

Every time I look up where to start with scales, modes, whatever, I see one of two answers. Either the 5 positions of the minor pentatonic is suggested, or the major scale because it is the start of all “theory”, that everything, chords, modes, etc... all come from knowing the major scale/positions

From some of you that already have a grasp on some theory, what is the best way to approach this? Should I just start over where I left off with the minor pentatonic, or learn the major scale first?
 #168207  by Jon S.
 Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:19 pm
This is a deep topic. Here's what I can suggest for starters. I'm sure others will have more to say.

Focusing on scales is one way to solo. Or on intervals. Or chord tones.

I learned, originally, to solo focusing on scales. As a result, I sounded like a scale-based player. As I learned more about, and how to use, intervals and chord tones, my solos moved towards using fewer notes while making better use of the ones I used.

Regardless, you'll likely want to nail these scales, for starters. The order isn't critical. Though, for Dead, many would say start with the Myxolydian mode.

  • Ionian mode (major scale)
  • Mixolydian mode (major scale w/flat 7)
  • Minor (b3 &b7 are the most important; b5 and b6 can be, too)
For all the effort you put on your pedalboard, I'd suggest adding a looper, especially since IIRC you said in another thread you lack others to jam with. Then you can solo indefinitely over whatever chord changes you like.

Another thing you can do is just what Jerry said in an interview he did: learn first to play, using single notes, the melodies to the songs you want eventually to solo over. That alone will teach you a lot about of chord tones, intervals, and scales.

So much more here to explain. The important thing is get started now!
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 #168208  by LazyLightning72
 Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:46 pm
Thanks Jon,
Yes I am planning to get a looper, last night I used audacity to record a portion of an Eyes jam I wanted to play too. It worked out alright for that instance.

I guess I shouldn’t say I don’t know anything about scales. You pick things up over the years, even if your not trying to. I just never put any effort into it, out of laziness when I was much younger, then out of habit after doing things a certain way for so long.

When I played before my extended break (the pre ‘13/‘14 revival of playing if you will) I did play with a few guys somewhat regularly, always in the rhythm spot though.

When I decided I wanted to start playing seriously again, that’s when I made the decisions to focus on lead.

I just do not want to make the same mistakes again, or take shortcuts. That’s not going to challenge me musically and will just serve to keep me from ever growing as a player.

Thanks for your suggestion!
Jon S. liked this
 #168209  by TI4-1009
 Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:14 pm
Jon S. wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:19 pm


Another thing you can do is just what Jerry said in an interview he did: learn first to play, using single notes, the melodies to the songs you want eventually to solo over. That alone will teach you a lot about of chord tones, intervals, and scales.
This.

Jerry was all about the melody. That and soloing off the notes of the chord.
Jon S., LazyLightning72 liked this
 #168211  by wabisabied
 Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:45 pm
Why one or the other? It all rolls into one!

I’m not as accomplished a player as many here, and not emulating Jerry, just influenced, but here’s a bit of what I think, based on what’s been helpful to me.

Major scale, yes. As you seem to already be aware, you will find it very useful as you explore everything else.

Pentatonic, sure, but both minor and Major, plus blue notes for both. The Major blues scale, just Major pentatonic plus a flatted 3rd, is very Jerry. If you already know the minor pentatonic scale, an easy way to quickly get the Major pentatonic scale is to understand that it's the same notes as the minor pentatonic of its relative minor. (ie: C Major pent scale notes = A minor pent scale notes.)

Know all of your chord shapes up and down the neck. You can use them to roadmap your solo through the chord changes, playing only chord tones at first, then layering in the additional scale notes and chromatics as you get more familiar and can seek them out.

Modes, eventually, but try to learn them all and understand what they are and why, rather than just a set of notes with a name. It can be a mind-bender, and will take time and patience, but it's worth digging into. One of those things where I think it’s better to learn fully and then discard what you don’t need, than to cherry-pick pieces and not really understand how they fit into the bigger picture. I’m definitely still working on it.

I also second the loop station recommendation. Not only is it fun to solo over, but making the loops will do wonders for your timing and awareness of space when playing rhythm.
LazyLightning72 liked this
 #168240  by LazyLightning72
 Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:44 pm
wabisabied wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:45 pm
I also second the loop station recommendation. Not only is it fun to solo over, but making the loops will do wonders for your timing and awareness of space when playing rhythm.
Have one on the way.