20 Minutes To… Blues lead
Improve your phrasing and melodic playing as well as tightening up some of the most important lead techniques with TG’S blues lesson
Not only is blues a springboard for many other styles, such as country, rock and jazz, but it can also teach us many things about the art of phrasing in solos. Often it’s the small technical details like string bends, slides and vibrato that go into making a great solo. The final piece of the puzzle for many guitarists, however, is targeting the best notes at the right moment. With this in mind, this month we’re focusing on how to further your lead skills through clever use of space, harmony and note choice. We’ve even added an extra jam track (track 11) to your Guitar Skills CD for you to play over. There’s no right or wrong but an understanding of how each lick ‘fits’ over a certain chord or part of the progression is the key to improving. Of course, learn the licks – if you’re into John Mayer, BB King, David Gilmour, even Guthrie Govan, these will be right up your street. Ultimately though your goal should be to choose some favourite phrases and incorporate them into your own playing.
1. One minute: Play through one exercise slowly
2. Two minutes: Slow down further and focus on tricky parts such as position shifts
3. Two minutes: Gradually build your playing speed
4. Try out the other examples
This is a creative lesson, rather than a purely technical one so aim to learn these ideas in different keys so that you can use them whenever you want. Obviously you can move the licks up or down the fretboard – that’s easy! As you get more confident, why not try moving your favourite licks onto other strings. The fret gaps won’t necessarily be the same so you may need to get your thinking cap on! Playing all across the fretboard is a great improv skill to develop though, especially in blues.
whatyouwilllearn How to mix major and minor scales How to use the Mixolydian mode Master different types of string bends