A fake book can really help you a lot in developing your improvisational skills. If you choose just one of the songs you will find a source to many exercises that will help you become a much better guitarist.
Do you know what a fake book is?
A fake book is made in a very compact format containing a lot of songs. This is possible because you will usually only find the melody of a song and the chords of a song.
The melody is written out with sheet music notation and maybe guitar tablature and if it is a song you can find the lyrics beneath the melody. The chords to play you will find above the notes.
Because this is a compact way of writing down songs a fake book can contain more than 500 songs.
This very rudimentary way to write down the songs gives you as a guitarist an opportunity to use your own musical taste when you interpret the songs.
The songs will usually only contain very basic chord progressions. When you hear these songs played the songs are often spiced up with more interesting chords. Often there are also more chords used which will make the chord progressions more interesting and exciting musically.
The act of trying to find more chords to use in a song and to spice up existing chords is an excellent exercise in chord theory. As you are working with a song you are interested in and also will use the exercise in you actual guitar playing you will be more motivated to do a good job.
You can now practice the new chords in the song. Concentrate on one chord at a time. There are many ways to practice a chord by for example playing the chord in various positions and with different voicings.
You can now take the chord practice a step further by using your new chord progressions in the song and practice changing chords. Take a few bars of the song and practice to play the progressions on your guitar as you vary the chord voicings.
When you have decided which chords you will use in a song you can use these chords to find suitable scales to use in your guitar improvisation. You can find many scale books on the net with suggestions on which scale to use for various chord progressions.
We will use the first chord of the song you are working on to show how you can find out which scale to use. If your first chord is a C-major chord you can choose between for example a C-major scale or a C-major pentatonic scale. The principle is to find a scale that contains the notes in the chord.
Now it is time to actually practice playing the scales on your guitar. Start with the first chord in the song and continue the same way with the other chords. First, strum the chord on your guitar and practice playing the suitable scale up and down in various positions and patterns.
Actually it is very common that you can use the same scale to many chords in a song. For example, the C-major scale will work together with the chords C-major, G7, Dm, Am and so on.
Now when you have mastered playing the suitable scales to the chords you can start to work on improving your improvisational skills by taking the previous method a little bit further. Strum a chord and use the scale you have chosen to create your own patterns, melodies and licks.
You are now prepared to improvise over the chord progressions you have written down using the scales you have chosen. The exciting part is when you come to a bar with a new scale to use. If you find it hard to change scale during your improvisation it might be a good idea to concentrate working on this skill for a while.
That means, use two scales and try to alternate between them as you continue to improvise maybe a couple of bars over each scale.
You can use a song in many other ways developing your skills in guitar improvisation. This should of course be a positive exercise leading you towards the goal to be able to play the song from start to end with melody and improvisation as you would like to play it in public.
About the Author
Peter Edvinsson invites you to download your free guitar sheet music, guitar tabs, ebooks, music lessons and read his music blog at Capotasto Music.