How to make you Blues solo’s sound even better (especially if you are a beginner)

The blues style is a lot of fun to play, not only that but it has such a long a rich history and is something that continues to evolve and excite music lovers. Maybe you are starting out and want to play like your favourite blues musicians, you have learnt the pentatonic and blues scales and have been trying to emulate your heroes or develop your own style? Is there something that just instant clicking? Are your solos lacking that certain tunefulness that define so many great blues guitar solos?

Chances are a little music theory is going to make all the difference in your solos. By targeting certain important notes whilst the chords are played underneath you will quickly learn to make you solos sing. So lets take a look at the harmony behind the blues.

Firstly without going back too far (learn more about how chords are formed in a key) we will take all the chords in a key, for example A. The chords contained in the key of A are –

A Bm C#m D E F# G#diminished.

I    II     III     IV V VI   VII

Most blues progressions use chords 1, 4 and 5 ( in this case A, D and E). Also more often than not the chords are turned into Dominant 7 chords instead of major – A7 D7 E7. Then they are assigned to certain bars (for example a 12 bar progression), much like this.

A7 /D7 /A7 /A7

D7 /D7 /A7 /A7

E7 /D7 /A7 /E7

Now lets take a look at the notes in a Pentatonic minor scale – A C D E G. You will notice that we have and A, D and E note in our scale. When we play the notes at the same time that the chords are happening you will instantly start to hear the difference and it will just sound ‘right’. The reason being that we are playing the root notes of the chords. For example you will be playing an A note with the A7 chord, a D note with the D7 chord and and E note with the E7 chord.

Exercise 1.

Step 1. Practice playing one long semibreve (4 beat note) and let it ring out for a bar, at the beginning of each bar. You should be aiming to play the correct root note with the appropriate chord. When you have gotten used to this and can find the notes without too much thinking you will be ready to goo to the next stage.

Step 2. Playing one note gets a bit boring, right! So now add another note or two after that first root note of the bar. The more notes you add you notice the solo becoming more musical, just don’t forget to play the root notes at the appropriate time (the first beat of the bar for this exercise). This doesn’t mean that you always have to hit the root notes from now on but it does help you learn where they are and notice the improvement in your solos. Enjoy!

This Article was written by professional guitar teacher, trainer and mentor Joseph Bailey who owns Kent Guitar School in North Kent, England. If you live in Gravesend, Dartford, Meopham or Maidstone and are looking to make some serious progress and have much more fun on your guitar then get it touch to arrange your free consultation lesson today.