Let’s now move back into some soloing fun! In this track we take a look at a classic 12/8 style slow blues. This style of blues is where Joe Bonamassa really flexes his blues muscles, and has produced some of the most exciting, moreish and fully loaded guitar solos we’ve ever heard. In this unit we have created our version of one of those solos, and we talk you through every part of it. Pick up those guitars, and let’s get started! Click here to check out the Materials Section below to access the full solo tabbed out in our interactive tab player.
So before we dive into this incredible guitar solo, let’s have a quick chat about the theories behind it. Firstly, we are in the key of G Blues. Dion tends to stick to the idea of using the G Mixolydian scale over the 1 chord, and the G minor pentatonic for the 4 and 5 chord. Of course, he also uses chord tones and target notes on each chord change, to add an extra layer of spice as he plays through the solo.
"G Mixolydian, you say?”
Ok so the G Mixolydian scale is the perfect scale over the dominant 7th chord. Why? Because it has the root, major 3rd, 5th and b7th within its notes. The major scale doesn’t have the b7th, and the minor scale doesn’t have the major 3rd. So it’s a perfect fit. However, a lot of blues guys like to simply use a crossover of the major and minor pentatonic shapes, as we’ve seen in previous courses. So, whichever way you think about it, those are the notes we are using. Here are those shapes for you brush up on before we hit the solo!
For the first lick we ground ourselves in the 3rd and 4th positions of our minor and major pentatonic shapes in G. This is a very common place to utilise that major and minor crossover in the blues, so it’s easy to find great examples of how to move between these two scale shapes. We would highly recommend being familiar with how these two shapes are placed on top of each other before tackling the licks, and then do your best to visualise that as you learn the licks. Here are those two shapes.
As we move into lick two, our chord changes from the 1 chord (G7) to the 4 chord (C7). Bonamassa is an expert at playing chord tone notes to help clarify this change, and we have included examples of that within this lick. Dion fundamentally bases the lick around the C triad in this position, and uses notes from the C major and minor pentatonic shapes around that. It defines the chord, and really helps to seperate this lick from the rest. Here are those shapes
For the third lick we return to the 1 chord (G7) and return to the 3rd fret position, using the G major and minor pentatonic crossover again. He really highlights that major 6th note in this phrase as well, which is straight out of the G mixolydian scale. It’s a really cool note to target, especially when added to the minor pentatonic as Dion does so well here. You'll be using those same scale shapes as in the first lesson of this unit to help you visualise the part.
For our final lick, we are moving up to the 5 chord of D7, back to the 4 chord of C7 and then turning around the blues! The lick starts with a super cool lead up to the D root note, which includes some serious micro-bends that leave so many questions! These questions are then promptly answered and resolved by the D root note. It’s all about that tension and release here. The track then works through the chords, once again utilising the triad C shape and the major and minor crossover to great effect.
“The subtleties are key”
The main takeaway from this, or any blues solo, should be that the gold is in the subtleties. The micro bends, the relaxed feel of the lick, the dynamic way of playing. These are all 10x more important than the actual notes you play. We’re confident in saying that Bonamassa could just take one of these licks, play it over the whole 12 bar, and it would still sound amazing. This is because he absolutely nails the subtle techniques and phrasing that makes it comes alive.