Thoughts on Improvising

Ever since I picked up the guitar I’ve been improvising and experimenting even before I thought “maybe I should actually learn something”. When I was about 8 or 9 an older friend of mine had a pink Flying V guitar, and I remember just holding it, not knowing anything, but he just plugged it in and basically i bashed out the most horrendous noise on it. I didn’t care though because I was just happy to be creating something, even if it was noise, guitar is also an energy, a feeling, not just piece of wood with strings.

Fast forward quite a few years and now I’ve got a small idea of how to play a few chords and licks and the willingness to expand, I still have that same passion for making a noise, but this time slightly more musical. But I was always recording chord progressions and playing over them, even if it was chords that made a guns n roses song, it was seperate from the pro recording so I could play my own ideas over it.

Developing your ear is basically listening to your favourite players, learning their solos, then try and venture out on your own. Then when you record and listen back, does it sound like your heroes? No? Then keep doin it until it does. I used to go everywhere with the guitar, lounge, bed, even taking a shit I’d be playing, and wouldn’t rest until I had mastered a particular lick or phrase or even chord sometimes.

So after years doing that, you build a massive vocabulary to use in your arsenal when approaching solo’s or “Improvisation”. We improvise everyday, we don’t wake up in the morning and know everything were gonna say or do, it just happens, but you have the necessary skills to deal with that, like talking or walking or anything. That’s the stage you need to be with guitar in order to view it as a form of expression rather than an instrument.

People ask me what scales I use or licks, or how I come up with melodies, and obviously there are theoretical terms for what I do or what any guitar player does, but ultimately it’s the time I put in, my personality, my influences all rolled into one, so what you hear is that. I never force anything either, just try and create as much flow in my soloing as possible. The trick is to just listen, not hear, actually listen to what you’re doin, does it sound good? Do other people think it sounds good? And be honest with yourself. Don’t settle for “it’s ok” or “I’ll never” or anything because to fail is to improve.”Every set back is a set up for a come back”. How do u know what to improve unless you fail at it? It’s ok to make mistakes especially at home when no one can hear, it’s the knowing it’s wrong by how it sounds to you, compared to professional players or your heroes. But improvising and jamming is going to make you a better player hands down, especially playing with other musicians, finding a musical voice that represents who you truly are whether it be rock, blues, jazz, funk, metal whatever.

Once you know how you want to sound and are able to apply the knowledge you’ve learned to create that sound, then that’s half the battle right there, but don’t be afraid to put the hours in. Guitar has an infinite number of possibilities and none of us may ever get through them all, but rather look at your own possibilities and then use the instrument as a tool to get your musical voice out there. The guitar is not just a guitar, it’s whoever plays it.

001-2>>>CLICK HERE to check out Ultimate Metal Improvisation V1

UMI2-Banner>>>CLICK HERE to check out Ultimate Metal Improvisation V2

Post your comment and questions to Andy about this article here