Today, there are more players with technical chops than ever before – however, often times their solos and improv skills are somewhat lacking, and sound a bit dry and lifeless. Players are often too focused on technical skill, and don’t take the time to let their ears and emotions guide where they should go next.

Allen Hinds has set out to put some life into your solos with his new TrueFire course, Melodic Improv. In the course, he takes you through several techniques that will build up your improvisational chops, as well as several performance studies taken from his catalog to get working with the concepts. Let’s check it out:

Simple Tricks for Playing Chords – Harmony & Chords: Demo

Here’s a common mistake with playing chords that I hear several guitar players make, some of which are already famous! Guitar is easy to pick up and play open chords, hitting the strings with the flat side of the pick, and that’s beautiful of course, but there’s more than one way of doing it.

You can also play chords using each finger, gripping the strings like a harp player would. This can be very musical and is defined by the strings that you’re not playing. You hear guitar players like Eric Johnson and Jimi Hendrix doing this all the time. By taking out some of the strings and only playing some of the notes, you can make your playing a lot more interesting than playing every string every time.

Guitaristic Chord Tricks – Harmony & Chords: Demo

It’s important to take advantage of the things that only the guitar can do – things like playing open notes or moving the instrument itself to create vibrato – that can’t be done on other instruments like piano, saxophone, etc. The way guitar chords are structured creates lots of interesting ways to alter what you’re playing and make it unique.

Boo’s Jam Study – Motif Building: Performance

Download the tab, notation, and jam track for this performance study on TrueFire.

We’re in A minor here, and we’ll first be looking at how to get in and out of a lick. Then, we’ll be working with small motifs and building them up into an interesting solo. Let’s take a look.

Yonder Hills Solo Study – Chord Tones: Performance

Download the tab, notation, and jam track for this performance study on TrueFire.

This track is a song called “Yonder Hills” from my album, Fly South. It’s pretty much a groove in B7 (a B blues), but it changes keys a little bit since I’m not a fan of static harmony, and it gives it a breath of fresh air. When the changes come, I can choose to either stay in B and play bluesy stuff, or really cover the changes. You’ll be able to hear when I’m doing both, and it’s nice to have a variety.

More Involved Legato Exercises – Legato Approach: Demo

You can get some great harmonics by playing legato with an amp that’s distorted, but it’s better to practice with it sounding clean, as it forces you to hammer-on the notes precisely. You can also do things like use different strings to help you play in this style. Let’s continue with our legato exercises here, looking at some more involved exercises.

Falling Up: Full – Improv Studies: Overview

One thing that’s very flattering is that there are several versions of this song on YouTube. I really wanted to walk through “Falling Up” because it’s a tricky song, and there aren’t many of them that are played correctly! It kind of started off with a guy I heard playing at a guitar store I used to go to, who’d pick out one note in a chord and bend it, kind of like a pedal steel player would. I started playing around with it, and it lent itself to the melody. So, here I’ll perform “Falling Up” in its entirety.

Falling Up: Full – Improv Studies: Performance

Download the tab, notation, and jam track for this performance study on TrueFire.

Falling Up: Full – Improv Studies: Highlights

Let’s breakdown some of the highlights of my performance of “Falling Up”.

There are more concepts, exercises, and performance studies to study in the full version of the course on TrueFire. As always, each lesson comes with the applicable tab, notation, and jam tracks to work with on your own. Check it out now!