Melody Making Mix Up

Hi! First post here. I often have to play by myself, as I’m sure many of you do also. Thankfully a loop pedal has really opened up a ton of fun options for how to do that. I’ll usually lay down some chords or a really low bass line, loop them with drums, and then head up the neck to “solo” on top of that loop.

However, I’ve noticed that I often just repeat the same kind of melodies while doing this. Hammer-on here, slide there, rinse repeat. I’ve kinda found myself in a bit of a rut with this method. I’m wondering if anyone here has felt similarly and found a way to switch things up?

I’ve tried playing other melodies from songs I know in different keys, but I suppose what I’m referring to here directly is methods for coming up with my own. Any advice or conversation is very appreciated!


Welcome, @atmerkel. Sounds like you’re a multi-instrumentalist. Very cool.

Improvising requires a bag of techniques born of being proficient with playing scales, arpeggios, chromatic leading tones, enclosures, etc. Many, if not most, players pick up this knowledge by learning and playing along with songs, and that’s a great way to learn.

Transcribing solos by master players is another excellent way to learn, but this approach requires dedicated time, much ear work, and patience.

Then there are also improv courses available that delve into the hows and whys involved in creating improvised lines.

Question: Are you a Beginner to Badass student?


Thanks for your response @MikeC! I am a B2B student. Graduate at this point, after finishing in about a month. B2B got me to pick my bass back up again since I got it in 2019 and I haven’t put it down since. I rolled through most of the course very quickly but was able to get a lot of technique and music theory-related info from the course that has opened a lot of doors for me.

I am a bit of a multi-instrumentalist, but the bass is definitely my main. I was an on/off guitar player for the last 20 years (mostly off) but a lot of those techniques I learned in guitar classes stuck with me. The bass is what I truly love playing though.

Improv is really what I’m most interested in. I play along with the 50 first songs, pick up my own to play that I figure out by ear, and work on some different exercises to beef up my techniques. But improvising is what really gets me excited, and is kinda why I do those other things to practice.

I suppose I’m in a creative rut with the improvisation right now- I think you may be right about learning more scales, arpeggios, etc.

That’s what it takes. Mark Smith’s Talking Bass courses are excellent for deep-diving into chord tones essentials (arpeggio variants, etc.), scales and modes essentials, and walking bass line constructions.

These courses are in-depth and comprehensive, so even though beginners can sure jump into them at the start, they soon go to the deep end of the pool. Not for the faint of heart, and not fun-oriented like B2B, but absolutely invaluable for those who yearn to learn what seems like magic when masters play bass.

The Walk That Bass course teaches a whole lot of theory and techniques for analyzing and constructing walking bass lines. Then Mark provides pre-constructed walking bass lines that incorporate those techniques. His approach is designed to get students to memorize well-written bass lines in order to teach how arpeggios, scales, and approach notes work in practice.

That said, these walking bass lines are jazz-based, but the principles taught will apply to any genre of soloing improvised lines. Mark refers to learning these lines as building a musical vocabulary, which is a spot on description.

Anyway, a lot to learn in order to make improvising sound like magic.

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@atomcircle you might be interested in these threads:

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Those are good threads, thank you! Mixing up my scales will likely help me out some as well, that’s a good point. I mainly stay in major/minor/pentatonic as I’m freshly learning.

I’m glad I posted, thank you! You’re a helpful bunch :grinning:


I am in the same boat… it happens to most (if not all) of us. Falling back to one’s own limited set of licks is so tempting.

The only way out - I think - is to force yourself to play other people’s material and thus learn new stuff that you then can “borrow” for your own improvisations and bass lines.

This is also easier said then done, but once you start “borrowing” from other people’s bass lines and licks, you’ll notice how you start incorporating them almost subconsciously and make them your own.

Unfortunately, this is also a tedious business as there is no “library of licks” where you could slowly work your way through from lick 1 to lick umpteen :wink: