Up next we have an absolute cracker for anyone who loves a bit of blues lead! We take the chord track from unit 1 and learn a sublime slow blues solo over the top. The solo has everything in it - the usage of minor and major pentatonic scales, our new dominant 7th arpeggios, chromatic and even diminished bluesy runs, as well as, if not most importantly, dynamic playing that takes you on a journey through all 12 bars. This solo not only provides you with a huge array of great licks and concepts but also a detailed example as to how you should structure your blues soloing. Check out the first video to get started and click here to check out the Materials Section below to access backing tracks and tab!
Before you fully dive into this lesson, it's important to make sure we have the key soloing concepts under our belt. We've put together a handy checklist for you here, alongside the location in our courses where you can learn these elements so that you are truly ready for the whole solo. We'd definitely recommend tackling point 1 on the list first, but point 2 and 3 can wait utill after this unit!
You need this crossover learnt in two key positions, based around the E and C shape dominant 7th chords. These lessons can be found here.
As Dan mentions in the video, it will be very useful if you can find all your minor CAGED shapes and apply the pentatonics to them. This is NOT CRUCIAL for this unit but definitely come back to it afterwards. You need the Minor CAGED course for this one!
Just as with minor, major across the neck is important. Combine this with the minor CAGED pentatonics and you've got your blues crossover ready to go! Again, not needed right now, but worth revisiting. Here is the Major CAGED course
Let's dive into the solo! We are in the key of B blues, and the first bar is all based around that major and minor pentatonic crossover. We kick off using the B major pentatonic scale, which gives us that sweeter tone that the more aggressive sounding minor pentatonic scale. We then move onto a D7 arpeggio based set of licks, which really defines the chord whilst we are on it.
think about your dynamics...
A key thing to consider as you're playing through this solo is the dynamic aspects. Try matching up the sound of the scale with the way you play that scale. For example, when you play the major pentatonic, try holding back on the pressure of the pick, or using the fingers to get a more mellow tone. When you hit the minor pentatonic, dig in a little more to add to the aggression. This is a more advanced concept, but an important skill to master in the blues.
We now move into the third bar, which brings us back to the root chord (and lasts for two bars). The focus of this section is developing a more aggressive minor tone, as well as finding a little repetitive theme that we can develop. Developing a theme really helps to ground the solo, as well as give you some breathing space. You can then build upon the theme as you develop the solo further.
B minor pentatonic...
So we focus on the B minor pentatonic shapes across the neck for this part of the solo, sliding between shape 2, 1, 5 and even 4 and 3 using open strings. We'd highly suggest checking out the fretboard diagrams so you can see all of these shapes in action. As you play through bar 3, 4 and 5... Try to locate these shapes and visualise them.
Just as we end the 6th bar, we come away from the B minor pentatonic, and use an E7 arpeggio, exactly as we have learnt in the previous unit. Be sure to once again visualise this arpeggio and use the fretboard diagrams to make sure you've nailed it!
In these two bars we are going to step up the dynamics, and really making a big push towards the 5-chord. At this point, we are working with the root chord again, and we're using the B major and Minor pentatonic crossover to create some awesome sounds! Our main focus is based around the C shape dominant 7th chord in B. This gives us the B major pentatonic box 4 and the B minor pentatonic box 3, as well as the B7 C shape arpeggio in that position. Check out the fretboard diagrams to properly visualise that.
Keep visualising those shapes....
As always, it is so important to visualise these crossover shapes. Dan uses the minor for the more aggressive sound, and the major for the sweeter tones, which you can hear are regularly intertwined. As we get to the end of bar 8 we come back to old faithful, box 1 of the B minor pentatonic, targeting the F# note as the final note as it moves into the 5-chord of F#7 perfectly! Again, use the fretboards to really work on visualising these ideas. Good luck!
For the final part of the solo we are playing over the 5, 4 and then root chord. In this section, we will be sticking with our B minor pentatonic initially, followed by the more specific dominant 7th arpeggios to target the movement of the chords. So, you need to visualise the minor pentantonic box 4 for the first lick, followed by the E7 arpeggio (E Shape) for the second lick. Finally, we come back down to the B major pentatonic box 2 for that cool, Buddy Guy style, final lick that targets the B7 chord. Voila!
Mix it all up..
Once you have the solo learnt as a piece, it's time to mix it all up! Take out the licks you like, and practice finding them in every key over a variety of slow blues tracks. This is how you'll get them into your playing in the long term. Good luck, and have fun!