How to Improvise Solos in Mixolydian Mode Guitar Lesson

Check the Jam Track here: https://youtu.be/vryaTVAgQ48 

Get the chart here: https://goo.gl/TVFe9F 

Free online guitar lessons for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players. Located in Crystal Lake, Jake Lizzio provides free jam tracks and video lessons for guitar players, as well as music theory videos and other music education content.


Please note, this transcription was computer generated and has not been checked for errors. However, I do hope you find it helpful. Be sure to check out The Ultimate Modal Poster!

Hey, welcome back to another lesson. This is Jake. And today we're talking about improvising guitar solos and improvising leads. We could practice this using minor major pentatonic.

But today I've chosen mixolydian because mixolydian is a very fun scale. It's got a very cool unique flavor to it. And I think it's way more interesting than your standard run-of-the-mill major stuff.

So what where I'm going to basically break down here for you is the process that I go through when I'm in a situation where I need to just make up leads on the Fly.

I'll tell you right now some of the Worst advice that I hear people say is to just feel it to just do it feels good.

And I think that's really bad advice for somebody who's a beginner because if you get on your guitar and just try to sound good with no Theory with no, you know guidelines of what's going to work and what isn't it's going to take you a very very long time to start sounding melodic to start sounding in key to start sounding good. So I mean you could do that you could basically, you know carve out your own path and figure this thing out on your own or you could learn a few basic rules that will save you literally The years off of your off of this entire process. So that's what I want to get you into her today is a little bit of the theory so that way you can find your bearings. You can have a good foundation on which you can build and then maybe you know, once you've got some some Theory built up and you've got some place on your guitar that you're comfortable then you can start just feeling it and going by what feels good but in my experience, you can't really get to that point of working intuitively until you really have some solid fundamentals down. Okay. What I want to start off with is I just want to talk about the D mixolydian scale. That's what we're going to be using two. Go with so here is the shape. I've given you. All right, the D mixolydian scale. I set it up as three notes per string. So I'm starting here on d That's the tenth fret on my low string and the scale goes as follows.

All right.

Now the first step for me using the scale to improvise is to literally go on to the Jam track and that's what I'm using here. Today. I'm using a Jam track that Cindy mixolydian and that's in the description. I recommend you open that up in the other tab or a different device and just try and play along everything that I'm showing you here. Just try play along with it on that other track. Okay. What I'm going to be doing is I'm going to be going up and down that scale and just listening to how fast I can go. Can I do triplets? Can I do 16th notes? All right, and that'll be my groundwork for my improvisation. It's not going to sound good. Great, but it will be in key and it will work. So as you listen, this will be very mechanical because it's just going to be going up and down notes. All right, but even then it'll sound like a guitar solo kind of just not that inspired of a guitar solo. So you'll see me go up.

You'll see me go down.

All right, you won't see me doing a lot of skipping. All right, I don't want to do that yet. I don't want to be jumping around like that. Just for now. I want to get comfortable with the shape. What I also will do is repeat myself a lot. So I might do the same ascending run a few times in a row. Errol just to kind of get your ear used to it and that's going to be far more interesting than just randomly noodling up and down Okay. So let's take a listen. What is what it sounds like I'm gonna hit play on the Jam track and I'm just going to go up and down my D mixolydian shape and do a little creative stuff as far as maybe stopping halfway through or you know starting in a different spot, but I'm not gonna do anything difficult. Alright, just up and down. Let's take a listen to three.

I'll try and throw some 16th notes in there.

All right, so I Admit that wasn't the most emotional guitar solo. But hey, it worked. It was at least in key and for at least me that was a big step when I was finally able to sound in key with something like this. The next step is to start adding in some stuff that you know is actually for guitar player stuff, like hammer-ons pull-offs Ben's slides. Those are going to be the things that make it sound more like a solo and less like this mechanical just a sending through scales. So for example, I could hammer on through every note of the scale just picking the first note of every single string I could do pull offs down.

One of the things I really like to do is I like to line up my fingers on any string and then pull off all the notes. So like right here. I've got 15 14 and 12.

I'm going to do one pick stroke in a pull off and then I'll follow it up with the next note on the next string just like that. So it's four notes total. One two, three four, or you can think of is one e and uh one e and uh, two e and uh, I really like that moves very very easy to use. So I'm gonna try and apply it also bending if you see that there's a note like in the shape right here. If you see that this note is only a half step next.

That's going to be an easy note to been to right here.

That would be a whole step next door and slides as well. So trying to add in some slides trying to add in some hammer-ons and pull-offs. That'll make a big difference. Okay. So now all I'm going to do is still only go up and down but I'm at least add in some hammer-ons. I'm going to add in some slides some bends and it's still just going to be stepwise motion. But already you're going to see this low. So low is slowly going to start sounding better and better. All right, one, two, three.

All right.

So not bad, right? It's still not quite where I want to be but it's better than where we started just going up and down now the next step here is going to be adding in some chord tones from the D major chord. We're in the key of D. Mixolydian. All right, and the key of D. Mixolydian has a whole bunch of different chords in that key. If you want to know more about that concept, I really suggest you watch the video. I made on the lydian mode where I go through how do you figure out the chords of the lydian mode? Well here you'd want to figure out what are the chords of the D mixolydian mode and I'll just tell you right off the bat the first chord and G mixolydian. The D major chord, okay. So the notes of a D major chord or extremely important those notes rdf sharpen a and as a lead guitar player, I want to be highlighting those notes. And if I do it'll help support this entire Jam. Alright, so those notes do you have sharpen a I can find them all in my shape. Here's d f sharp a d f sharp a d and f sharp.

So what I'm going to try and do now is everything that I did before but instead I'm going to try and really make it a point to stop and to highlight and to hang out on this note. This note this note this note. This note this note the snow in the snow. All right, and just by doing that. I'm going to slow down a little bit so I won't be doing so many sixteenth notes, but by hanging out on those notes, I'm going to really help Define the fact that I am in the key of D something today. I'm Indy mixolydian.

But even if I was in D Major, I'd want to highlight the notes of this D major chord because that is my home core. That's my home base D major is the core that everything revolves around. Okay. So let's take a listen to what the sounds like adding in the chord tones of D major one, two, three.

All right.

So, you know by hanging out on those chord tones, even without a Jam track. You can hear that hanging out on those notes kind of help support and develop that idea. The D. Major is my home chord. Okay, but to be honest with you the next step, you know, you really want to be thinking about not just the D chord, but the other chords in this Jam, I mean, we've got a lot of chords in this jam and this case specifically was for different chords. So really what you want to be thinking about as a lead guitar player is knowing where the chord tones are of every single chord.

Seems like a lot of work and it is I'll be honest with you when I'm improvising.

I have to think pretty hard to keep track of where all my chord tones are unless I'm lucky enough to just be able to hear it and kind of intuitively feel my way to it. But in this case we can see very simply in my verse section. I have a d chord then I've a c chord and I have a G chord and a d chord. So we already talked about the notes of a d chord. Let's really briefly talk about the notes of a c chord we could find them all over our guitar, but I'm only going to look for these notes right here.

Those notes are the notes c e and G from a c-major chord. I also want to look for the notes of the G major chord which are g b and d and I can find some of those notes right here in my shape.

So really what I'm going to do is I'm only gonna look at this. Here's a note from D.

Here's a note from the C chord.

That's a c and then here's a note from the G chord B.

And then we go back to a d chord so I'll end on this note. So you see what I'm doing here is for each chord. I'm kind of finding a note that I want to highlight that is in that chord because that's going to make me more melodic now. I'm not just playing. Laying over these chord changes. I'm actually playing with the chord changes and that makes a giant difference from the ear it you know, it's it's every single cord will kind of lock in place a little bit tighter as opposed to you. Just kind of Meandering over everything.

Alright, so let's listen to this one more time. I'm going to be basically doing everything from before but now the notes I stopped on will be directly related to the core that's happening underneath it. Okay, and you should hear a difference in how this sounds one two, three.

All right, pretty melodic far more melodic than what we were doing before because every one of those notes actually complements the chord. Okay now improvising and doing that is going to take a lot of practice you're going to have to have a lot of experience.

But you know, I just want to kind of give you the the anticipation of that, you know, kind of look ahead that a lot of playing over the changes means Aware of what you're playing over so when you're improvising you don't really know the chord progression your kind of left just using your ear and that's hard. So it's nice to have a jam check like this that you can practice along. You can prepare you can kind of strategize how you're going to approach a few of those chords. I think that makes a big difference.

So one of the last things I want to talk about here is the mixolydian pentatonic scale. It's basically an abbreviated version of mixolydian. The mixolydian scale is pretty cool. And in my opinion the most important notes of this scale are the root the third note of the scale the 4th note of the scale the 5th note of the scale. Well and that flat 7 note of the scale. All right, those are really important notes in there's actually scale called mixolydian pentatonic. That's just that it's a one of the three or four or five and a flatted 7 1 3 4 5 flat 7.

So that shape is what I'm using right here and you can hear all on its own.

If you do some pentatonic patterns up and down, I did a video on pentatonic pattern you can check that up doing it down and threes and up and down and force sounds great. I mean, it's just a wonderful sounding scale and the way I see it is that's it's kind of like all the good parts of mixo-lydian just wrapped up into a smaller shape. So I actually find it easier to improvise with but it doesn't include the whole scale. So I wanted to show you that and basically what I'm going to do now is I'll try and wrap everything together one really quick note one thing. You should always do as a guitar player is learn to steal.

Okay, I mean that completely honestly We talked about this in the David Gilmour lesson as well. Just stealing from David Gilmour John Petrucci from Dream Theater uses this mixolydian pentatonic scale a lot and one of the links I learned from him was in the song Overture 1928.

He does this lick that starts on the 2nd string with the pinky right there.

It is a band right there actually use my ring finger and I come down to this note on the 4th string and then I come back to this note on the third string.

So that's a lick that I heard once in one song and I kind of use it anytime. I'm in mixolydian because it's nice so you'll hear me but using that as well. I'll also be Using all the other techniques as well and trying to accommodate those chords as I heard that now this is improvised and I am not anywhere near a perfect guitar player. I've you know, I live the rest of my life and you know still make mistakes when I'm playing so you're probably gonna hear some of those mistakes come through but I'm going to be trying to do that whole feel it thing where I'm not worrying so much on what I'm doing. I'm kind of trying to let my ear guide me to where I want to go that also means I will be leaving the shape. So even though everything I showed you was in this shape here today or that mixolydian pentatonic shape when I'm just naturally in Sizing I kind of want to leave shape. Sometimes I want to hit a note that's not in the shape, but it is in the scale. So I might slide to it or been to it or maybe find it lower on the neck. So let's take a listen to what it sounds like if we wrap all these techniques together one, two three.

All right. So, you know when you're improvising you're never going to get well, maybe if you're lucky you'll get exactly what you're looking for, but I never get exactly what I'm looking for when I'm in. Sizing you know, it's to me improvising is great when you're just jamming with your friends and you're trying to write new ideas, you know recording your improvised sessions can lead to a lot of really great ideas that you can then refine and turn into real songs.

And you know improvising is also a good place to start when you're writing a guitar solo. If you need to write a solo for a song and you don't know where to go will record yourself improvising over a few times and you'll probably come up with a bunch of good ideas that you can help refine into a guitar solo later on. Alright, so hopefully this gives you a lot of good insight into how I at least approach improvising and it's a Very complicated process and it is very intuitive. But it's very helpful to have some mechanical systematic rules that you can you know consult when you want to do something like this telling somebody to just feel it is like basically waving your hands and saying, oh it's magic and you don't have that magic. It's not magic. I could never do this. When I started playing guitar. I was never able to do any of this stuff and it wasn't until I had a little bit of substance a little bit of theory a little bit of you know, something to grasp onto where I was able to start acting intuitive on my guitar and doing what felt good. So that's the point. I want to get across here. That by, you know learning some of this stuff and practicing it. Mechanically you're going to have access to that creative free-flowing improvisational stuff that some people are talking about. So I hope you enjoyed this lesson. I hope you learned something from it. If you have any questions, please get a hold of me leave a comment like subscribe all that good stuff. I will plan on seeing you in the not-so-distant future. Thank you.


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