It’s time to take a detour from our epic soloing skills, and take a look at Bonamassa’s impressive ability to create catchy blues/rock riffs. In this track we will learn how you can use your pentatonic scale, blues chords and even chromatic ideas to create a catchy rock masterpiece! We pay close attention to the right and left hand here, to ensure that we really help develop your groove. Check out the first video to get started and click here to check out the Materials Section below to access the full solo tabbed out in our interactive tab player.
For this epic sounding riff, we are using our classic E7#9 chord (better known as the Hendrix chord), which roots us in an E blues key. This allows us to use the E minor pentatonic as our main source of notes when playing through the riff. Let’s start by going through the fundamentals of the riff, which Dion breaks down slowly in this video. Here is the E7#9 chord for your reference.
You’ll notice, as Dion plays through the riff, we have some super cool bluesy fills before jumping back to the main sections. These are classic blues/rock licks, which we add a bit of Bonamassa speed and technique to, and voilà! The licks are very much based in that shape 1 pentatonic, using the open strings in E. Here is that shape, as well as box 2 (as we do slide up to those notes occasionally) to reference as you go through the licks in the video.
This wouldn’t be a blues riff if we didn’t take a visit to the 4 and 5 chord of the key! So we move to a more driving rhythm when we hit the B7 and A7 chords, followed by a really cool bluesy link using the pentatonic box 4 and 3. Once again, it’s all about digging in and really pulling out that groove. Here are those chords and pentatonic shapes.
In this lesson, Dion hands you an epic challenge! To be a great blues rock player, you need to know how to insert a lick between riffs, or chords. This means being able to judge the amount of time you have, and then having a library of ideas that you can call upon.
“You have a space of 2 beats, which isn’t long! Take these two beats and insert a fill or lick of your choice, and practice trying as many different licks as you can!”
One thing you can think about is the note values you can play with. You can use 4th notes, 8th notes or even 16th notes if you can play pretty quick. You can also mess around with a variety of these. Dion explains this perfectly in the video, so take your time and have some fun with it!
In our final lesson, Dion talks a little more about the feel of the track. It’s all about digging in, finding your swing and getting comfortable in this groove. We also talk about staccato note choice, rather than elongated notes, and how that can add a heavier feel to the track. Once again, Dion walks you through this perfectly in the video, and his demoing of each style really helps clarify how you can approach riffing. Sit back, relax, and absorb some quality knowledge!