Advanced Guitar Soloing – The Professional Guide to Improvisation

Authors: Daniel Gilbert and Beth Marlis
Level: Advanced

Advanced Guitar Soloing

This is essentially a practice workbook for advanced lead guitar. These kinds of books are undoubtedly the best to learn and improve your guitar lead playing but what you aren’t going to get is any kind of epiphany from them. A lot of guitarists are looking for answers to concepts they don’t understand, a quick route to enlightenment. That’s not knocking anybody, I was the same and I think to some extent most guitarists are. The actual reality of improving your lead guitar playing comes from hands on experience.

A book like this gives you a leg up and nothing much else, but whether you like it or not, this is where the real answers are to all of your questions. You are given an idea, a kick start for an idea or soloing concept, the rest is down to you. Don’t try too hard to understand everything all in one go. I learned this lesson late in my guitar life. Just keep doing and doing, and eventually things fall into place. You can spend years looking for the magic formula of what makes a pro a pro but this is where it’s all at. Get on with it and let the logic catch up when it’s ready. If you do it enough then this is what will happen.

Inside The Book

The outline of this book is 17 practice sessions and it’s not for the beginner. The range of topics cover soloing with the melodic minor, Phrygian, Locrian and Lydian modes, diminished, altered and whole tone scales, chromaticism and secondary dominants.

Each section explains the outline but not in lengthy detail so you will need to know your basic theory. Throughout the book there are a bunch of exercises and ideas to work with, a few licks and some complete solo examples. The CD contains 22 tracks that start with the example lick or solo and then leads into a few rounds of backing track to play along with. I would prefer to have seen separate backing tracks, with and without the solo part, rather than have them combined into one track but this is a small issue. It doesn’t deter you from the value of the content, just makes it harder to run a continuous loop without interruptions.

Summary

All in all, this is a good book and I would have no trouble recommending it – but only for the serious guitarist prepared to put some work into it. Take it from me, these are the best kinds of books to learn from but you have to put the effort in to get the most out of them.

I don’t own any others in this series but I will be buying more when I get round to it, the MI books are well thought out and I don’t think I’ve come across a bad one yet.

5 thoughts on “Advanced Guitar Soloing – The Professional Guide to Improvisation

  1. Anthony

    Just stumbled upon this site and I’m loving it! I’m a guitar book junkie myself.

    I agree with this review. I’ve had this book for awhile and never really liked it until recently. The best way to view this book is as and “odds and ends” to the first book in the series, Guitar Soloing: The Contemporary Guide to Improvisation. That book is by far the best guitar book I’ve ever owned and it has a great description of more basic scales (major and minor pent., Minor, Major, Dorian, and Mixoliydian). The Advanced book picks up where it left off but I don’t think it does a great job of giving any practical applications (like for the wholetone scale). Over all, I like this book because it familiarized me with these new scales, but I can’t yet incorporate most of them into my playing.

    Reply
  2. Lee Post author

    @Anthony
    Thanks for the comment Anthony. I’ll have to check out the contemporary guide, sounds interesting. The Amazon reviews are a bit mixed but that doesn’t always mean a lot, a few reviewers share your thoughts on it.

    About not being able to incorporate the new scales… I find when I’m stuck like this the best thing is to break the scale down to a minimum, this could be as few as three or four notes on just one or two strings. Sometimes the problem is about a lack of familiarity. By limiting yourself like this for a few hours (or days even) it makes it a lot easier to get something sounding good.

    Once this happens you gain the feel for what something should sound like, it gets your ear guiding you better and gets you more inspired. After this it’s a matter of slowly building on the scale or the idea just another one or two notes at a time. Before you know it, something good starts happening.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  3. Anthony

    @Lee
    Thanks, that’s good advice. However, the scales in this book that I think need more explanation are the diminished and whole tone scales. And the first few notes of the whole tone are the same as the Lydian and the scale is pretty close to the Lydian Dominant. Anyways, I guess what I’m trying to say is if you have any suggestions for books on the Diminished Scale or Wholetone Scale…that aren’t by Jean Marc Belakadi…let me know!

    Reply
  4. Admin Post author

    This just got complicated! :)

    Off hand, I can’t think of any good books on the application of these scales because it’s not something I mess around much with myself, although as this site develops I will start looking into it.

    It seems to me you probably need to brush up more on some advanced theory to understand these scales a bit more. The other thing is to decide how much you need to know about them. Your average rocker or shredder will use them differently from a jazzer. If jazz is your thing then you already know you’re getting into complicated stuff, jazzers spend years on this. You will have to get all the info you can find and live and breath it!

    The average shredder on the other hand will play around with these types of scales without necessarily (but not always) understanding, or using them the same way as a jazzer would. They might throw a wholetone scale or lick over the top of an augmented chord and if it sounds good, they just go with it. They may also just use these types of scales over drone notes for a good effect.

    They don’t need to understand them the same way as a jazzer otherwise their stuff will start sounding like jazz! :) So my advice would be just play around with them and see if you get anything to sound good, see what you get out of it. For example, sometimes I will play a diminished run over a normal dom7 chord and depending on the feel of the music, this sometimes sounds great, sometimes sounds wrong. After doing it enough times you get a feel for anticipating when it should work. So I can get to use these scales on occasion and it works okay but I can’t use them like a jazzer, even though I understand the concept.

    None of this is necessarily helpful but it’s something you should think about because the application of some scales and ideas often vary between genres. It’s obviously a massive subject but if there’s something specific you don’t understand, ask away and I’ll tell you if I know the answer.

    Reply

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