Guitar Essentials: The Three Pillars of Improvisation

Publish date:
Social count:
Image placeholder title

PHOTO: Cindy Moorhead

In one of Jude Gold’s recent No Guitar Is Safe podcasts, we got to hear fusion extraordinaire Dean Brown discuss a bunch of interesting topics.

The interview took a turn down the path of improvisation and inspired me to create an in-depth video based on Dean's wisdom—plus some experiences I’ve had along the way.

The three pillars of improvisation support one another, so the stronger you get in one, the more effective you’ll be at improving the others. Ear training is the first pillar, and it’s also the hardest to quantify. Possessing a “good ear” can be subjective, but typically it means being able to fit into a band situation seamlessly, using good vibrato and playing off of other musicians in a lyrical way. The best way to improve this pillar is to learn some of your favorite guitar players’ riffs and solos without any tabs or notation. This method forces you to depend on your ear to navigate the neck.

Pillar two is lexicon (that’s Dean’s word, not mine). You want to have a strong vocabulary of licks to be fluent in whatever genre you choose. Ear training is obviously important as a supporting pillar, as you’ll rely on it to learn the licks of those who came before you.

Watch the video below to learn the final pillar and how they each support the other to help you focus on becoming the best improviser you can be.

Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric website Music Is Win. His entertaining guitar-related content receives hundreds of thousands of video views on Facebook per month, and his online guitar courses tout more than 1,500 students with a cumulative 4.7 rating on Udemy. Get in touch with Tyler on Facebook, watch more of his guitar lessons and vlogs on YouTube, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.