CARL VERHEYEN part 5
In another exclusive lession for GT, session ace Carl Verheyen shares more of his superb soloing secrets with us. Milton Mermikides is your fretboard guide.
Carl delivers yet another jaw-dropping first-take solo over a track he’s never before heard!
WE WERE LUCkY to catch Carl during his European tour and have him come down to the GT studios to film and record his fantastic playing. We gave him a series of backing tracks to improvise over and a couple of hours later we had enough material for several excellent tutorials. Carl’s session skills, musicality, stylistic diversity, technique and tone are legendary, and during his 40-year playing career has garnered a huge CV of band associations (from Supertramp to Allan Holdsworth), countless album, film and TV credits, as well as accolades from guitar greats such as Robben Ford, Joe Bonamassa, Steve Lukather, Robben Ford, Brad Paisley, Jennifer Batten, Steve Morse, Scott Henderson and Albert Lee.
In this article, I’ve transcribed Carl’s improvisation over Jason Sidwell’s funky fusion track in D. It’s a 64-bar form with repeats, with the following structure: D7 (16x), Bb7-Ab/Bb (7x), Bb7-A7#9. Essentially what we have (if we see Ab/Bb as Bbsus9) is a backing track made up entirely of Dominant chords (D7-Bb7-A7) (the first two chords last for 16 bars each) so this is a great masterclass on how to create interesting solos over a static Dominant 7th chord - a tricky thing in itself.
Carl had one listen through (and a simple chart like the one above) before unleashing this wonderful solo. So it’s clear that he has at his disposal a deeply absorbed – and flexible – set of devices for handling such devices. Here’s a rundown of the main techniques he employs: Use of minor Pentatonic and minor Blues scales (bars 13 and 47 but also referenced throughout the solo); use of major Pentatonic and major Blues scales (bars 14 and 21, but again is hinted at often); Mixolydian mode (with bluesy inflections of the minor 3rd and passing tones between the root and b7) is the primary choice in this solo and can be heard in country-like long semiquaver lines with occasional bends (bars 11-14); Lydian Dominant (bar 61); Dominant 7 arpeggio
patterns (bars 26 and 58) and intervallic patterns from the Mixolydian mode (bars 28-30); and superimposition of extended chords in parallel motion (bars 59-61).
Carl knows this material all over the fretboard (and in every key) so has access to any of these approaches whenever he chooses allowing for long flowing lines. This excellent theoretical and fretboard knowledge is augmented by a fantastic touch on the guitar, and you’ll hear a range of sounds explored through subtle bends, vibrato bar effects, pickup switching, string-skipping, slides, slurs and an excellent picking technique.
You’ll get the most out of this tutorial by digging deep. Even taking one bar, or phrase, mastering its technique and (most importantly) how it functions over the underlying chord, can inform your playing for years to come. Being able to replicate this solo would be excellent; however being able to readily adopt these ideas in your own soloing and style is the ultimate goal.
Master one phrase and its technique, and how it functions over underlying chords; this it will inform your playing for years.
Carl Verheyen: his fretboard fluency is the stuff of dreams!