4 Steps to Silky Smooth Melody...

If you want silky smooth melody lines then you need to start by avoiding the common mistakes people make when practicing this area. In this video, I’m going to show you the fastest way to get your melody lines to flow smoothly and the 4 steps that you need to take in order to make sure you don’t get hung up along the way...

Today we’re talking about developing smoother scales, and smoother melodic lines. For most players, this is a priority area that guitar players really want to get better at.

The average guitarist doesn’t just want to have scale knowledge alone. We want that knowledge to translate into smooth melody. But, I’ll tell ya it’s not as easy as it sounds.


When guitarists study the neck and the scale patterns, (along with how all of that information will come together in a smooth way), they quickly realize that there is more going on than just learning a couple of Pentatonic licks, or a few box pattern scale shapes.

Really smooth guitar playing is a combination of four practice concepts that all come together to create a way of playing a melody that is both “smooth” and “seamless.”

The best part is that the overall practice formula for this smooth melody technique can be applied to the performance of any melody that you perform.

STEP 1). 
The first idea I want to discuss is technical control. It’s almost impossible to have smooth playing if your technique is not fully developed.

Achieving this will come down to having a routine that is maintained as a part of your daily practice. Having a solid routine of doing technical drills is what will work for you day by day to improve your technical control.

When developing your technique, use a metronome, and have a series of technical exercises that you do every day for promoting better left and right hand strength and better control.

Learn other techniques as well, like; Hybrid picking, finger-style, and legato. If you’re similar to a lot of players out there and you have weak hands, I have an excellent study to try.

It’s something I learned from guitarist, “Tony MacAlpine,” many years ago. This exercise promotes finger strength, improved legato, and better fretting accuracy.

Here’s how the exercise works...

Legato Study:

Practice Tip:
Move this exercise all over the guitar fingerboard into every location and off of every string set possible.

STEP 2).
The second area has to do with realizing that all melodic and scale training is not the same. If you want smooth sounding scale lines you need to focus on a portion of your daily practice on generating scale patterns across the neck that actually promote those sounds.

This means that you need to practice inventing passages that flow through scale tones horizontally along the fingerboard in very smooth and connected manner.

Achieving this will involve developing scale layouts that connect with longer fret-board lateral ideas and they’ll generally use phrasing tools, like; slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Below is an example of something like this using the, “A Minor” scale…

In position "A Minor" scale pattern:

 Along the neck version of the "A Minor" scale pattern:

Practice Tip:
Learn to re-organize every scale shape that you try on guitar. Test layouts that travel ascending and descending as well as, up the neck (toward the body) and down the neck (to the head-stock).

The 3rd idea involves how you’re performing guitar lines and the mental state that you’re in as you’re playing them.

If you don’t achieve the right mind-set, you’re not going to have the right flow to your sound, (which will affect the end result of how your music comes across to the listener).

Smooth musical flow takes a lot of training and awareness, plus it also involves learning about how other guitar players phrase their lines.

Once you start having this, you can take what you enjoy about every melodic phrase and incorporate those ideas into your own playing - to build your own style.

One of the best things I remember hearing Joe Satriani say is how much he benefited from playing along to drum loops and prior to jumping into a part with the drum beat, how important is was to count in.

This is something that a lot of students don’t do. So, if you’re one of those players who never does a “count into a part,” try this exercise I have for you.


Play the lick below the first time with no count, then play it again with a “count in” to help better connect with the musical feel /flow of the idea.

Example Lick:

Practice Tip:
Learn the lick and then learn to count into the lick performing the part perfectly. Then, use a drum loop to develop the feel for the lick at a higher level. If you do not have a collection of good drum loops, there's a nice free collection available from Goran Grooves.

RECORD YOURSELFThe final area (for working on creating more smooth melodic ideas in your playing), involves learning to develop a phrase over a group of chord changes and then record yourself playing the phrase and then listen back.

This is where a loop pedal might not really be the best recording tool and you may want to instead use some type of Audio Recording Workstation. One of the best free recording workstations out there is called Reaper. (https://www.reaper.fm/)

Reaper is a popular open source recording software that works excellent for doing multi-track recording. And, when you practice doing recording sessions - layering parts will really help a lot with gaining that 3rd person perspective for how good your playing is coming across on the play-back of your work.

Let me help get you started by offering up a chord progression that you can try the recording process with. After learning the progression, you can go ahead and record it.


I also have a short melody for you to try as well. Work on recording the melody (below) once your chord changes are laid down into your multi-track session.


Recording Tip:
Working with recording software (like Reaper) will generally involve purchasing some out-board gear such as microphones, cables, stands and possibly a mixer of some kind. One of the easiest ways to get started is with the Focusrite Scarlett - Audio Interface Bundle. For the price point and quality of this set-up, it really can't be beat!

Now, let’s re-cap what we’ve covered in this lesson. The first step to smooth playing is obviously to make sure that you’re constantly working on your technique.

Good smooth technique is critical to having good smooth sound.

Next, is to practice re-organizing the basic in position scales (that you learn from most text-books out there), and change them over to scales that operate in a more horizontal way.

Third, is to get into the right mindset for the music. Working with a drum loop and counting in is an excellent way to do this since your mindset for musical feel is so closely tied to your connection to rhythm.

And, finally, creating recording sessions in a multi-track environment and playing them back for a new perspective of your own playing is one of the most enlightening things you can do for your guitar skills.

All too often students will think that their playing is coming across one way, only to listen back to a recording of themselves and realize that they need to revisit their sound in some other way.

It’s all about tightening up and coming together smoother on those recordings. Doing that work is absolutely fantastic for your smoothness with melodic lines!



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