Turn even the most mundane textbook phrase into a usable one with just this one note.

Orange cat sleeping on a wooden table

Hello, I’m Rimo (@RimoGt), a guitar blogger.

Today’s concern is:

“Even if I memorize many simple phrases, they still sound too clichéd. I wonder if there’s a way to make them sound more natural…”

As your knowledge of scales and chords grows, the number of phrases you feel you can play based on that knowledge increases dramatically.

However, when you actually perform, sometimes the phrases can feel out of place. Every guitarist who has improvised or played a solo has probably experienced this.

I, Rimo, am no exception!

In this article, we’ll understand the fundamental approach to resolving this issue through a single phrase. So, let’s dive into the phrase explanation.

The topic is, “Turn even the most mundane textbook phrase into a usable one with just this one note.”

Listen to the Phrase

First, please listen to phrase #34.

(Video plays from 18:00 of #34.)

Though familiar, it’s a natural-sounding phrase, isn’t it?

It doesn’t sound textbook-like or forced, right? Why? Let’s delve deeper.

Check on the Fretboard

Let’s re-check this phrase on the fretboard.

See How the Fretboard Appears

Verify with Chords

It’s a key G phrase, and for this person, they see a Gm chord rooted on the 2nd string.

Overlaying this phrase and the Gm chord, you’ll notice that out of the 5 notes used in the phrase, 4 are found in the Gm chord.

Check with Scales

At the same time, a Gm pentatonic box rooted on the 4th string is visible.

It’s somewhat irregular, so it might be hard to remember.

A good tip is to first familiarize oneself with the positions on the 1st and 2nd strings and then visualize how it connects with the 6th string rooted box.

Overlaying the Gm pentatonic, all 5 notes in the phrase are found in the Gm pentatonic scale.

Understand the Composition of Sounds

Those with a keen ear might’ve noticed; it’s a minor chord shape commonly found in arpeggio phrases with an added slide.

When you remove the note on the 8th fret of the 1st string, it transforms into a commonly known shape, frequently used not just for technical fast playing but also for slow ones like today’s. It’s a good idea to memorize this as a foundation.

The Essence of the Phrase

The slide from the 7th to the 9th fret on the 1st string is the key.

As mentioned earlier, the base of this phrase is a standard minor arpeggio, so playing it as is might sound bland. By adding just one slide note, the phrase gains depth and life.

Listen Again

Let’s listen to the phrase one more time.

(Video plays from 18:00 of #34.)


In summary:

this phrase is based on a Gm chord and Gm pentatonic rooted on the 2nd string (8th fret).

The essence of the phrase is the slide note, which adds nuance, taking away the textbook feel.

In Closing

Today we introduced #34. The technique of adding slides for nuance is super important, not just for arpeggios but even for single notes.

If you ever feel your playing is boring or amateurish, try adding a slide at the beginning of your usual phrases. It’s guaranteed to transform your playing.

I hope this added something to your guitar toolbox. Thank you for reading until the end. Look forward to next time.

Lastly, if you wish to expand your phrase repertoire, please check out other articles in this series.


Referende:【目次】ズボラギタリストがフレーズ100個覚えるためのノート(Sorry, Japanese only…)

Till next time, Love Guitar!