Melodic Guitar Intervals: Breaking Out Of Scales

Tommaso Zillio

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Is your lead playing "too linear"? Are you constantly searching for ways to "break up" your playing from sounding like you are following a scale pattern? Are your fingers dictating what you play rather than your ears?

These are all common problems, and you are not the only one with this problem. As a guitar educator, I personally blame the ways scales have been taught to guitar players in the last three decades. Scales per se are great, but too many "teachers" have insisted only on learning patterns and playing them up & down.

As a consequence we have a whole generation of intermediate guitar players that have been trapped into thinking in one set of patterns that don't even work that well... and you may have learned them too. In case you don't know what I am talking about, yes, it's the infamous CAGED system... but that's a debate for another day.

There are many solutions to that. One of them would be to *properly* learn scales so that you master them rather than being imprisoned by them. But today we are going to try another kind of solution. We are simply going to change paradigm (woah, big word alert!)

What we are going to do is simply let go for a moment of the idea of scale patterns, and move on the fretboard in a different way. And then explore some possibilities that this way opens you. Rather than making a very general and abstract point that wold be unusable, I opted to restrict myself to ONE specific example, namely, how to play with diatonic interval of 6th. Sixths are very melodic and work in any musical style... and if you don't like 6ths you can always do the same things with another interval to find what you like.

Since it would be impossible for me to explain all this using text and tablature, I made a video with explanations and examples. Watch it now:

Remember that the important part are not the licks I show (though these are cool too, in my opinion at least), but the fact that we let go of thinking of a scale pattern and we use something different (the interval of 6th) to guide our fingers on the fretboard. And of course, the result does not *sound* like a scale pattern anymore.

If you apply the same ideas to other intervals, or even completely different things (like arpeggios) then you will get different sounds and this will help your solo sound fresh. Which is the only important thing after all.

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