Tag Archives for " Guitar Scale Patterns "

The Foundation For Awesome Guitar Solos

Recently I released my Secrets of Tasty Riffs & Solos course (which guitar players seem to be really loving, by the way).

It focuses very deeply on using thirds in solos – both in double stops and single note lines. A lot of folks recognized that the course was a little over their heads, but at the same time, they really liked what they saw and heard, and wanted to be able to play like that because well, those thirds are just so dang tasty!

So, the question I’ve been hearing is this: what do I need to do FIRST, to get my playing up to the place where I can learn those tasty techniques?

Well my friend, a good guitar solo never comes completely out of the blue. There’s this myth floating around out there that says that good solos come straight from… the heart. That sounds great and all, but if it were *exclusively* true, you could give a guitar to anyone passionate enough and they’d be able to peel out a great solo on the spot without previous training.

We all know that won’t happen, so clearly – although the heart is involved – there are obviously other factors at work too!

The truth is that a great guitar solo is like a cool piece of architecture: it’s amazing to look at on first glance, but when you try to build it, you realize you need a foundation, you need to understand the ground it will be built on, you need certain materials, and you need a bunch of other elements that aren’t immediately apparent to the casual observer.

Today we’ll talk about two foundational elements that play a massive role in laying the groundwork for great solos.

Foundation #1 – Guitar Theory

One of the most foundational elements of all is learning some guitar theory.

I simply can’t overstate the impact this has had on my own playing.

Learning the relationships between notes, chords, keys, scales and all that good stuff gives you a way of problem solving things on the guitar.

If you don’t have any theory, you can’t define your problem, and you don’t have ways of solving it either, apart from trial and error. (Hint: that’s the really slow way to solve problems!) Theory is the language musicians use to communicate, it contains everything we need to be able to pass on musical ideas, and to develop them in creative directions.

Keep in mind that I’m talking about practical music theory here; not learning a bunch of high falutin’ terms you’ll never use but instead, learning extremely practical tools that have immediate impact on your playing.

If your guitar theory needs a tune up, you’ll love my Unlocking I IV V course – it’s a tremendously practical approach to guitar theory that has produced “light bulb” moments for thousands of guitar players.

I am so pleased with your 1-4-5 lesson. I have purchased lots of guitar/fretboard theory books but only had a vague idea as to how all the concepts were related.

Then I discovered your lesson! The light actually went on and I was able to pull everything together. Now it makes sense and I would like to thank you for doing such a fantastic job.

~ Peg Wagner Hayes, Virginia

Foundation #2 – Guitar Scales

The second foundation is also tremendously important, and it ties in with the first. I’m talking about guitar scale patterns – the key to your fretboard. Once you understand how scales work, you discover that the fretboard is in fact covered in scale patterns that all tie together very nicely.

Learn the most important patterns and you have the ability to find good sounding notes anywhere on the fretboard you choose.

There are two massive benefits of learning scale patterns:

a) You learn where all the good sounding notes are for that particular key. When it comes time to solo, trust me, it sure helps to know where the good notes are to be found! The scales help you avoid the landmines that can blow up your solo into an embarrassing mess.

b) Practicing patterns means your muscle memory improves. This is the key to speed and accuracy in your solos. As muscle memory begins to take over, the amount of actual thought required is reduced, meaning your brain bandwidth is opened up to start thinking more creatively.

A friend of mine who is a very good piano player (with lots of education to back it) watched me solo one day – he also plays guitar by the way. Afterward he asked – are you using scales or something when you play? He’s a pretty good guitar player as well, so his question surprised me. The fact was, with all that education and theory and everything else, he still had not connected the dots and applied scales to his fretboard.

If you’re unsure how scales work on your guitar, and you’d like to unlock your entire fretboard, you’re going to love my Guitar Scale Patterns course.

…Even after more than 30yrs I never had any “lights come on” in terms of my theory that I learned many times over the years.

I started with your scales course and have spent a good bit of time working on those… Your method and written material have been excellent for me!! Your pace and explanations are great and visuals are most helpful.

Last night I had a friend over and we started jamming and guess what??? THE LIGHTS WENT ON!! Your scale instruction came through like a CHAMP.

I have never been shy about improvising but in just a few weeks of studying your course, I was playing at a whole different level and wasn’t just faking it!!! The use of my fingers was so much more efficient and clearly the knowledge of the scales gave me so much more in terms of tools and knowledge to work with!!!

By the end of one 20 min jam the adrenaline was pumping through me and I have never played so well and felt so satisfied on the guitar in my life!! Your lessons clearly helped me accomplish this wonderful experience. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

~ Craig Villalon

What’s Next?

After you have these two foundation stones in place, there’s still plenty more to learn 🙂

Riffs are short musical phrases that relate directly to the scale – think of them like words, and think of your solo like telling a story. The more riffs you have at your fingertips, the better story you’ll be able to tell, right?

No one wants to finally get the spotlight, only to say “The brown dog ran.”

So learning and practicing riffs is tremendously helpful.

Beyond that, there are many directions you can go with your soloing: different styles and genres, perhaps you like blazing fast shred metal, or maybe you like country chicken pickin, blues, rock, or something else entirely.

One option that helps with just about all the above is learning how thirds work. I’ve dubbed the third as being the “tasty” interval. It’s crazy how many “tasty” riffs and solos are built upon this interval. But don’t take my word for it, check this out:

I have purchased several of your courses and I am just getting started on Secrets of Tasty Riffs & Solos. A light bulb went on and I pulled out the TAB on one of my favorite acoustic songs, Operator, by Jim Croce. I have studied the accompanied guitar part by Maury Muehleisen and could not figure out how he came up with such beautiful fills until now. He is playing thirds and like your intro part of the course, in the key of G.

I believe what you say about how “tasty” these can sound as I have always loved the guitar on that song and now I know why!

~ Craig C. in Oklahoma

If you’d like to add that “tasty” factor to your playing, you’ll love Secrets of Tasty Riffs & Solos!

Con Men and Guitar Players

Paolo-Bellina-conThe other day I received a nice letter airmailed from France… you can click on the picture on the right, and read the scanned copy, if you want.

I opened it up, thinking perhaps that one of my students had sent me a note or something like that, but instead to my surprise, I found it was from a lawyer, named Paolo Bellina, in Italy… huh?

So I read on, quickly discovering that unknown to me, a certain Hans Boettcher had perished three years ago in an automobile accident… and this lawyer was now trying to save Hans’ 7.5 million euro bank account from being absorbed by the bank, due to no one claiming it!

The lawyer figured that “since you have the same last name” he can get the bank to pay us – that’s right – he’d split the cash with me – the millions of euros.

Crazy eh?

I’ve seen these things before of course, but usually they are spam emails… this one was complete with French airmail stamps on the envelope, and nicely typed letter and a nice color letter head… the whole works!

And yet… it’s a complete scam.

It looks good on the surface, but you dig a little deeper, and pretty soon the whole thing starts falling to pieces.

Unfortunately, that’s a little bit like a few guitar players I’ve met over the years.

They’ve learned a few cool licks, and a few cool cover songs, and they can bomb those out just like a parrot can tell great pirate jokes… they work every time.

But at the end of the day, when you pull back the curtain, the parrot can’t explain to you what a pirate is, and the guitar player is lost when it comes to really understanding the mechanics of what he’s playing.

And admit it or not, the truth is that this fact holds him back from becoming all the guitar player he could be…

Don’t be a guitar player “con man” or a guitar player “parrot” – learn how the guitar works (I’m talking basic guitar theory here) and you’ll forever notice the difference in your playing.

Click Here To Get Started Today

Guitar vs Piano – which is better?

guitar vs pianoJust before writing this, I spent a half hour noodling around on a piano a friend lent me for a while.

Reminded me of years ago, when I was about 6 years old and taking piano lessons…

Anyhow, piano is a cool instrument, no doubt about it.

BUT – and I say this knowing that some are going to disagree with me – I still like the guitar better :-).

Of course, personal preference can play a role, as well as the fact that I actually know how to play a guitar, while I can barely do anything by comparison on the piano, but I do have another reason too:


On a piano, if you want to play a C major scale, just start on a C note, and play every white key after that, and you’ll end up with a C major scale.

As soon as you leave the key of C, you need to start omitting some white keys, and including some black keys.

The specific ones vary, depending on which key you’re in.

So, you have to remember a unique scale pattern for every single key.

On the guitar, it’s not like that at all.

On the guitar, you can learn the major scale pattern, and apply that exact same fingering pattern to any key your little ol’ heart desires…

If you want C major, no problem, just start that pattern off on a C, and you’ll have a C major scale.

So, you COULD say that on guitar, you have only one seventh as much memorizing to do as a piano player does!

At least, that’s how I look at it.

And when it comes to learning your guitar scales, I always recommend people start out right here.


When Less Is More – How To Keep The Guitar Simple

friendsThe other day I came across this quote that made me think:

“I’d rather have 4 quarters than 100 pennies”

It was talking about having a few great friends, versus tons of unreliable friends…

But it applies to the guitar as well.

Would you prefer to have tons and tons of scale patterns that you only know sorta-well, or have just three patterns that you know REALLY well, and that can deliver the entire fretboard to you?

You see, many people teach that you need to learn all kinds of scale patterns so that you can cover the whole fretboard… many recommend at least 7 different patterns, just to get started.

But with 7 different patterns, which one(s) do you default to when you’re in a bind and you just need to crank out a lick?

In an ideal world, we’d know every scale pattern there is to know (and there are hundreds) like the back of our hand, but hey, let’s be realistic here.

That’s why I focus on just 3 essential guitar scale patterns when I’m teaching someone how to navigate the fretboard.

These three patterns allow you to cover the whole fretboard, and they’re simple enough that you can pick them up quickly and remember them easily too.

Plus, you’ll find that in 99% of situations you find yourself in, these three are going to be all that you ever need to crank out a sweet sounding guitar solo.

Learn how to master the fretboard here.

How To Be A Star On Guitar

Dark Park Star TrailsThe other night I stayed up past my bedtime to checkout a meteor shower…

Have you ever seen something like that?

There weren’t quite as many as I was hoping for, but nevertheless, we did see a number of fireballs burning up in the atmosphere…

Not to mention an incredible number of stars!

I’ve taken up a new hobby trying to photograph star trails… In fact, the picture on the right is my very first attempt. We’ll see how far that goes 🙂

Anyhow, I get questions from time to time from people who really want to be a “star” when it comes to guitar.

You ever see those ads that claim to turn you into a guitar god?

The thing is, only a few people are ever going to be the “star” – the exclusivity is by nature limited to a few… and those few are often ones that have an incredible natural talent…


And this is the other side of the coin, where I get questions from people who claim to have no natural talent, and they want to know if they’ll ever be able to play well.

My answer to both is simple: learn some guitar theory.

And, specifically in relation to soloing, learn the 3 essential scales that you need to cover your whole fretboard.

Theory is simply a way of describing what sounds good to our ears. Some people “hear” that naturally… others, at least initially, need a little theory to tell them what is acceptable.

But once mastered, theory has a real equalizing effect – it can be the leg up that you need to compete with the guy who’s really gifted, but doesn’t actually understand what he’s doing.

That’s a big part of the reason why I spend so much time yakking about theory.

Anyhow, if mastering your entire fretboard sounds like something that would be useful to you (and if ya wanna be a star, you just know you need to!) then checkout my Guitar Scale Patterns course.

Charting a Guitar Solo Through The Wilderness

stone_cairnSo last week I spent a wee bit of time in the great outdoors – I don’t get to do that enough, but I sure love it when I do get the chance…

Anyhow – have you ever gone for a hike in an area that isn’t very well marked?

Usually, if you’re on some sort of an well-used path, you’ll find these things called rock cairns, which is basically just a fancy name for a pile of rocks, haha.

Other hikers set them up to help people know where they’re going when the path isn’t obvious.

And you know what? Those guide posts function just like guitar scales do, for the guitar player during a solo.

During a solo, you’re essentially charting a path through a wilderness of notes.

The guitar scale pattern points the way, by showing you which notes are the “safe” notes.

You don’t want to fall off a cliff or into a river by choosing a wrong note!

Pick a note from the scale, and it isn’t a restriction… it is instead a freedom to succeed.

Sometimes people think that rules restrict them…

And they can, but it depends on the rules. Good rules actually increase freedom, because you know you can do anything you want within those boundaries and not have any problems.

That’s what guitar scales do for your solos.

And guitar scales don’t have to be complicated either, in fact there are just three patterns that I recommend learning in order to cover your whole fretboard.

You can see what I mean here.