Improvising Blues Guitar

improvising blues guitarI’m going to be ambitious and tie 3 ‘Scales & Arpeggios’ posts together into a blues piece which I will call ‘The Blues Print’. I’ve recorded a short improvisation which will utilise the Minor Pentatonic, Major Pentatonic & Blues Scale over the same chord progression. I’ve also transcribed my improvisation.

The Chord Progression will ‘float around’ a bit as this piece’s Tonal Centre is what might be described as ambiguous. I don’t want to be too ‘locked in’ in terms of Chord Tones so the rhythm guitars will be backing me in a riff based fashion which can be heard in the backing track to play your own improvisations to. My advice would be to learn my transcription, embellish it and then come up with your own ideas/licks and record your own version of The Blues Print.

Improvising Blues Guitar

The rhythm guitar riffs will include elements of all 3 scales across the backing track. The piece has a B Root Note and follows the classic 12 bar blues form of –

B                      |B                    |B                    |B

E                      |E                    |B                    |B

F#                    |E                    |B                    |F#

(I’ve used general root notes above. These are not Major Chords)

Here is the ‘Blues Print’ audio –

And the backing track –

Here is the transcription of the rhythm guitar –

Download (PDF, 42KB)

Improvisation Walk-Through

Solo 1 – 0:00 – 0:53

Download (PDF, 62KB)

In Bars 1 – 10 all of the licks are played using the B Major Pentatonic Scale. There is not too much difficulty here and all techniques are included in the transcription. A trademark motif of Blues playing is the ambiguity of the Minor & Major 3rd and I have included both in one lick in bars 9 & 10, hammering from the Minor to the Major 3rd. Bar 11 sees the first Minor Pentatonic lick and, as the transcription shows, the Minor 3rds are bent a small amount to play with the Minor/Major 3rd ambiguity again. Bar 18 sees the first use of the Blues Scale which is just the same as the Minor Pentatonic but with an additional♭5th, in this case F. The only small challenge in this solo comes in bar 21 which is a right hand tapping lick. It is best to learn this slowly and accurately and, once comfortable, attempt with the backing track without trying too hard to ‘outline’ the timing. Play it across the beat as I have done in the audio.

Chorus Section – 0:53 – 1:19

Download (PDF, 38KB)

I put this tuneful Chorus Section into the piece to break up the improvisation. It is quite straight forward to play, all details are in the transcription and I have doubled up the main melody with an octave to ‘fill out’ the sound (included in the backing track).

Solo 2 – 1:19 – End

Download (PDF, 49KB)

The final Solo plays over only one repetition of the chord progression and follows a very similar theme to Solo 1. There is a long, fast, 16th note triplet (6-notes-per-beat), legato lick played on one string. It starts out in the Major Pentatonic Scale from bar 5 and then moves into the Minor Pentatonic Scale in bar 7. It may also be a good idea to slow this lick down and build up to playing it with the track.

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