Cyberfret.com: Free Online Guitar lessons - Home

Classic Internet Guitar Lessons

These lessons have been floating around the web for years and were not written by the cyberfret staff. Therefore they are offered AS IS with no warranty, no money back guarantee, no technical support, no ads, and no pretty background (just plain gray and text, the way it was back in the old days, AND WE LIKED IT) The author of the material is at the top of each lesson. This is part of the history of guitar lessons on the Internet...

 

From: LIVENGOOD.MIKE@A1GW.GENE.COM (Mike Livengood)
Subject: Lesson: Soloing basics

We've all been there...you're jammin' with some dudes and in the middle of the 
tune the bass player gives you the nod to take your solo. What do you do? 
Every moment you wait makes you look like more of an amateur. Quick, what key 
am I in? What are the chord changes? What scale? What mode? What's my name? 
What's the capital of South Dakota? Damn...damn...damn!

Well, let's make sure this never happens by preparing ourselves with today's 
lesson:

Soloing basics.

A few notes before we start.

If you have not mastered the art of note bending, slides, pull-offs and 
hammer-ons, you will probably have a difficult time with some of the topics 
discussed here. But read on anyway.

I happen to have a personal disdain for the pentatonic scale. So while I will 
not dissuade anyone from using it nor dispute its usefulness, I will not be 
discussing it here.

Let's say that your makeshift band is jammin' on a simple three chord warm up 
progression, Dm-C-Bb-C.

It's your turn to solo and what are you going to do?

Based on the chord progression, we'll pick D minor as our soloing key of 
choice.

I have always had luck memorizing a particular pattern and moving it around 
depending on the key. Here is the one that I use most and can use in any key 
major or minor. Here it is in our Dm position:

Pattern 1
E---l---l---l---l-x-l-x-l---l-x-l---l-r-l
B---l---l---l---l-x-l-R-l---l-x-l---l---l
G---l---l---l---l-x-l---l-r-l---l---l---l
D---l---l---l---l-x-l---l-x-l-x-l---l---l
A---l---l---l---l-r-l---l-x-l-R-l---l---l
E---l---l---l---l-x-l-x-l---l-x-l---l---l
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

The RR'sS represent the root of the major key (F) and the Rr'sS represent the 
root in the minor key (D).

Technically I suppose you could call this an F major scale in phrygian mode 
(beginning on the third, A). But I really don't. It's just a particular set of 
finger placements that are comfortable and reliable for soloing. Since when I 
solo I will be stressing the notes of the major and minor, the A phrygian is 
just a coincidence. 

OK. Now we've got a scale to use. Notice that this scale contains all the 
notes of the chords being played. Like so:

D minor scale		D-E-F-G-A-Bb-C
Dm chord		D-F-A
C chord			C-E-G
Bb chord		Bb-D-F

Now when we solo (which you will remember is supposed to be a story within a 
story, not just a bunch of licks) we can really play any note in the scale and 
it will fit. It won't always sound good, but it will fit in some way.

Here are two more positions of the same scale.

Pattern 2	(F major scale)
E---l---l-x-l---l-x-l-x-l---l---l---l---l
B---l---l-r-l---l-x-l-R-l---l---l---l---l
G---l-x-l-x-l---l-x-l---l---l---l---l---l
D---l-x-l-R-l---l-x-l---l---l---l---l---l
A-x-l---l-x-l---l-r-l---l---l---l---l---l
E-R-l---l-x-l---l-x-l---l---l---l---l---l
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

Pattern 3	(D minor scale)
E---l---l---l(x)l---l-x-l-R-l---l-x-l---l
B---l---l---l(x)l-x-l---l-x-l---l-r-l---l
G---l---l---l-R-l---l-x-l---l-x-l---l---l
D---l---l---l-x-l---l-r-l---l-x-l---l---l
A---l---l---l-x-l---l-x-l-x-l---l---l---l
E---l---l---l-r-l---l-x-l-R-l---l---l---l
  7   8   9  10  11  12  13  14  15   16
(x) alternative fingerings to use if you want to stay in one position.

Notice that this is the D minor scale and that the D minor pentatonic scale is 
contained within this scale. Where did you think the pentatonic it came from?

If you link patterns 1, 2 and 3 together starting with the F on the E string 
1st fret (pattern 2) you can move up and down the fretboard all the way to the 
24th fret (if you have one) without leaving the patterns. Like this: (In TAB 
form)

E------------------------------------8-10-12--l
B---------------------------5-6-8/10----------l
G-------------------2/3-5-7-------------------l
D-------------2-3-5---------------------------l
A-------1-3-5---------------------------------l
E-1-3-5---------------------------------------l

E-13-12-10----------------------------13-15-17/18-l
B----------13-11-10----------13-15-17-------------l
G-------------------10-12-14----------------------l
D-------------------------------------------------l
A-------------------------------------------------l
E-------------------------------------------------l

E--20-18-17----------------------------18-20-22/24l
B-----------20-18-17----------18-20-22------------l
G--------------------19-17-19---------------------l
D-------------------------------------------------l
A-------------------------------------------------l
E-------------------------------------------------l

Try playing this slowly and smoothly hammering-on each ascending note, 
pulling-off each descending note, and sliding where notated. Stop at 20 if 
you don't have the upper frets, or if you get tired.

Now, the nice thing about remembering patterns is that the pattern works for 
any key; just change the position. Pattern 1 above starts on the third of the 
major scale. (remember it's only a pattern, not a phrygian scale). So the 
starting points on the low E string that I remember are:

C major/A minor		open
D major/B minor		2nd fret
E major/C# minor	4th fret
F major/D minor		5th fret (as above)
G major/E minor		7th fret
A major/F# minor	9th fret

We can find a few licks within each pattern that we can use to augment our 
solos. Like these:

Dm
E-----5-6-8-6-5---5-------l-8-----5--8-----5-8-10-l
B----6---------8-6--8-6-5-l--6---6----6---6-------l
G---7---------------------l---5-7------5-7--------l
D-------------------------l-----------------------l
A-------------------------l-----------------------l
E-------------------------l-----------------------l


E---------------------------5---5-6-5-6-8-6-8/10--l
B----------5--5-6-5-6-8-6-8---8-------------------l
G----7-5-7--7-------------------------------------l
D-------------------------------------------------l
A-------------------------------------------------l
E-------------------------------------------------l

Also notice as we put the patterns together and complete the major scale up 
the neck that the chords for the tune we're playing become available for 
licks. Like this:

Dm
E-5--------13-10-----l
B--6-------------10--l
G---7----------------l
D----7---------------l
A-----5--------------l
E--------------------l

C
E-8--------15-12-----l
B--8-------------13--l
G---9----------------l
D----10--------------l
A-----10-------------l
E-------8------------l

Bb
E-10-------13-10-----l
B--11------------11--l
G---10---------------l
D-----8--------------l
A--------------------l
E--------------------l

We can use these triads in our solos to really accentuate the chords and 
pull-off the triads in kind of a "Hotel California" "Sultans of Swing" solo 
kind of thing.

Find a pattern that you like and that feels comfortable for your fingers and 
playing style. Then play it a thousand times. Have a friend play the chords 
over and over and try it out. Or play along with a tune in each key.

Well, this should get you started on soloing in the major and minor keys. I'll 
continue more lessons later.

Any additions? Post 'em and we can discuss them.

			M.L.


back to the Classic Internet Guitar Lesson Index