Improvising with Triads
If you don’t know your 3-string triad fingerings yet, you can learn them here:
Once you know these triads, you can solo with them.
Most beginner and intermediate guitar players, ever only use triads for rhythm guitar. It doesn’t occur to them that you can also play guitar solos with triads.
I’m not talking here about arpeggiating the notes in triads to craft melody lines centered around chord tones. You could do that too.
No, what I am talking about here, is hitting the chords (not individual notes in the chords) harmonically, and moving around horizontally (staying on 1 stringiest) to create melody lines with the top notes in the triads.
The reason why that doesn’t occur to many guitar players that you can play solos with full chord shapes has to do with music theory knowledge.
One of the things you learn in the beginning when you set your first steps into music theory is that it sounds “wrong” when you hit a chord that is different from what the band is playing.
For example, you learn that when the band is playing a C chord, you must play a C chord too.
That is true, but it is also limited knowledge.
Well… it’s only true when you talk about rhythm playing.
In rhythm playing, you usually hit a chord, in a certain rhythmic pattern, for an extended period of time (i.e. a measure…), then move on to the next chord of the song.
Because of that length of time, you stay on the same chord in a rhythm playing situation, playing another chord for a length of time over that chord, will probably sound “painful”, “wrong”, “dissonant” (or however one wants to describe it).
However; soloing is about creating melodies. Unlike a rhythm guitar part where you repeat a note or chord over and over again, melodies move around from pitch to pitch.
As such: the idea is that, when you solo with full triad shapes, you’re never really staying on any given chord long enough for clashes/dissonances with the chords in the rhythm guitar, to become annoying to listen to.
You only have to make sure that before pauses at the end of melodic phrases, that you regularly resolve the endings of your melodic phrases to whatever the chord is that the band is playing at that time.
Meaning: when the track or band is playing a G chord, your melody sounds nicely resolved when your last chord in your melodic phrase is a G chord.
As long as you keep moving around before taking a pause, none of the chords that you are creating melodies with, will sound “wrong”
A good way to go about this: is staying on 1 string set and adopt a linear approach.
What this means, is that you move around horizontally on 1 string set with 3-note triads.
To get you started with this, it helps to start in the key of C, and first stick with only all root position triads.
Once you get good at this: then you can solo only using all first inversion triads.
Next up: all the 2nd inversion triad shapes.
Once you get all this under your belt: you can free solo combining any inversions.
Here’s how this works.
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