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Blues Guitar Lessons • Pentatonic Soloing • Part 4 • Chords, Tab, Video Lessons

Updated on August 25, 2014

The late, great Johnny Winter

Review by hansd The book starts at a basic level but some more advanced chord knowledge is needed or can be obtained during the study. The book progresses steadily to more challenging exercises.
Review by hansd The book starts at a basic level but some more advanced chord knowledge is needed or can be obtained during the study. The book progresses steadily to more challenging exercises.

Johnny Winter Music

Winter, Johnny - Live Rockpalast 1979
Winter, Johnny - Live Rockpalast 1979

By G. Andersen

A great chance to see Johnny Winter at peak performance. If you're a fan or have a casual interest in the man and/or this style of music, this is a fantastic set too behold! Good camera angles (considering the era) and the sound is good too. For me, it's a pleasure to see the effortless flow of music that seems to never stop emanating from Johnny's fingers and brain! A great movie to watch, especially after finishing his biography (which I can also recommend!).This was a free viewing since I have Amazon Prime, but the video is now on my Wish List and I will hope to soon add it to my collection. A performance that bears multiple viewings!


The Chord Progression

This is a standard twelve bar blues progression in, what would loosely be called, the key of A. There is no sharps or flats in the key signature (the key of A Major would have three sharps: F♯, C♯ and G♯), because the solo takes place in A minor Pentatonic, which is relative to C Major (no sharps or flats in the key of C).

The only real chord that is contained in the key of A Major, is the dominant E7. Even though all the chords are dominant seventh chords, blues players would simply say 'key of A'. The chord movement is the ever popular one, four, five progression. In the second measure, the progression moves to the 'four' chord (D7). This is called the 'quick change'.

The Solo

As mentioned above, the entire solo is in A minor Pentatonic Box Pattern #2. These five notes are the most used part of the box pattern.

  • Scale spelling low to high for the five notes: E G A C D.

It is a fairly simple solo, that sounds best at a moderate to fast tempo. The target notes are all roots. When the band is on A7 the solo lands on A (second string, tenth fret). The same with the D7 (first string, tenth fret) and E7 (third string, ninth fret).

This is a no-fail way of constructing a great solo. You cannot go wrong landing on chord tones and the root notes of the chords yield the strongest sound. Learn this in the key it is in, then transpose to different keys. Always make sure you what key you are playing in. For example, if you move the entire solo to the eleventh position, you have transposed the solo to the key of 'C'. You are now playing in C minor Pentatonic Box Pattern #2.

The chords would now be: C7, F7 and G7. Moving these solos to other positions and being aware of what key and scale you are playing in, will quickly unlock the fretboard.

The wavy line above the A note in measures three, seven and eleven is a common musical sign meaning vibrato. There are two types of vibrato:

  • Violin vibrato (where the fret hand is released at the back of the neck and the hand rocks rocks back and forth on the fret finger). This is the technique I am using in the video.
  • Bend vibrato is the other form, whereas the string is actually bent up or down and then returned to the rest point. Do not bend in both directions when performing this way.

Fretboard Diagram

The top five notes of this pattern are the only notes played in the scale. You may have seen posts advertising 4 note blues solos. The notes that are usually employed in these solos are the four notes on the top two strings (G A C D).

Using your ear and short phrases, the possibilities are almost endless for creating excellent blues solos with these four or five notes. Experiment, and always be aware of the chord tones you are resolving to. You ear should tell you when you are right or wrong.


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