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Blues soloing-what skills made you better??

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Most of my friends who play any blues lead guitar have the same story. They learned the major and minor pentatonics, then the blue notes, and then found that just by playing the notes in these scales that they sounded pretty good over chord I, IV, V progressions, and so they only played through the scale, but in different positions while soloing. In other words they would play the various positions of the A minor pentatonic throughout the duration of a I, IV, V progression: A7, D7, E7. But only playing up and down the scale.


Some of them would advance to mixing major and minor during their solo and others would ultimately learn to move from the Am pentatonic to the Dm or Em at times.


Question: What skills or concepts do you feel helped take your blues soloing to another level?

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Thorough and long-term practice of the major scale in 6 positions.

Connecting notes of the minor pentatonic chromatically

Understanding that the major scales I practiced also contained minor and dom 7 scales.

Listening to jazz blues changes which end the 12-bar sequence with II-V-I not V-IV-I.

Discovering chord extensions - Dom 9th, 13th, etc.

Listening to blues players like Albert King who can get so much variation and expression out of one note, and trying to copy that and the attack. Listening to Howling Wolf's groove, or Hooker.

Playing over the changes. Finding out what I can use and where.


I'm still trying every day.



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  • 4 months later...

Over a blues using dom7th chords (I7 IV7 V7) switching between the tonic major and minor blues scales. In other words, over a blues in A playing A minor pentatonic (w blue note) and A Major pentatonic (w blue note - b3rd in this scale). Over I7 the minor and major works, over the IV7 the minor sounds better, over the V7 the major sounds better. Beyond that, definitely playing over changes.

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  • 1 month later...

Roam around youtube for backing tracks that let you try new ideas out. This also lets you work on what you know and what you want to test out.


For a more standard blues feel



For a nice jazzy feel but still restrained enough to let you work on some ideas.



More Modal feel



If your working on a major Zappa feel then I like this one quite a bit



If you hunt around youtube there are quite a few tracks that you can work out the scales and the feel of each scale as you go.


Truthfully its all about practice and what you do when you practice.The idea I suggest is be able to move around the neck and tie the 'patterns' together and spend time working on what you need to learn vs just wailing constantly.


After a while you just start seeing a whole scale all over the neck and stop thinking in boxes only.


Just my 2cents

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