Blues Guitar Lessons • Pentatonic Soloing • Part 4 • Chords, Tab, Video Lessons
The late, great Johnny Winter
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- Learning Blues Guitar | distribly.com
I have been teaching guitar professionally since 1992, when Don’t Fret Guitar Instruction was established. Over the years, I have taught countless students (beginners to advanced) how to play or improve their chops. Past students include four members
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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'.
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.
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.