In another exclusive feature looks at various easy ways to supercharge your soloing and add more interest to your lead work. Read on...
For this article we aim to identify some techniques and soloing concepts that can be easily incorporated into your personal bag of tricks. It’s all well and good knowing every scale and mode under the sun, but if we can’t articulate these in a way that gives our playing feel, soul, or personality, then our ability to communicate effectively will be all but stifled.
We have 20, four-bar examples to study. These are split into two tracks, each with 10 examples. Each example is four bars long and then there is a two-bar drum break to allow you time to prepare for the next example. As an added extra there is a full-on, 34-bar jam solo to learn, again with a corresponding backing track. The jam solo will help you to contextualise what we have worked on, and give you a chance to use them as a basis for creating your own ideas.
All the examples are played over a funky C7 backing track. To add some interest the backing track also uses the chords of F7 and G7. Many of you will feel at home here, as C7, F7 and G7 are of course the three chords of a Dominant 7 blues in C.
There are several scales you can use when soloing over the backing track. C Major Pentatonic contains the notes C, D, E, G and A and sounds great when used over the C7 chord. C Minor Pentatonic contains the notes C,Eb,F,G,Bb; this also sounds good when played over the C7 but it can also be made to fit the F7 and G7 chords. Some of the ideas use F Major Pentatonic over the F7 chord, and G Major Pentatonic over the G7. Everything has been notated with a C Major key signature so you can clearly see the various note choices, plus chord and scale relationships.
The main focus of this feature is to work on articulations and embellishments, but it’s good to be mindful of using the appropriate Major and Minor Pentatonic scales in just the right places to fit the underlying chords. Some of the many ways we can add interest to notes and phrases can be divided into the following categories:
String bending, sliding into notes, a variety of picking techniques including fingers, flat pick and hybrid (pick and fingers).
Finger vibrato and whammy bar vibrato. whammy bar manipulation including bottleneck emulation and ‘vocal’ phrasing.
Hammer-ons and pull-offs including legato phrasing. Finger tapping using both fretting and picking hands and of course one of the most important aspects of all, rhythm.
Each of the 20 examples has been designed to highlight a key technique or articulation type. Some of these examples are in the style of famous players that helped to progress lead guitar playing to where it is today.
If you are working on a new technique or concept it is well worth taking your time and starting slowly. Rushing forward is almost always a false economy in the long run.
All three tracks have the demonstration solo muted on the GT audio so you can play along. It would be challenging to learn all 20 examples and the jam track note for note, but that’s not the object of this exercise: the idea is to provide you with concepts that you can easily bolt on to your existing repertoire (although there are some great licks here worth pilfering), and provide your playing with an exciting shot in the arm.