Blues Rock 1 - Solo B

Animated Blues Rock 1 - Solo B tab by ActionTab on guitar. So easy you'll be playing in minutes.

This ActionTab is from the Jamzone. In the previous article we looked at altering the melody to follow the backing chords, rather than strictly using notes from the key scale. In this example we shall do the same, but also focus a little more on technique - in other words, how to start getting those 'sweet touches' while soloing. This is a nice little solo, and we're deliberately keeping in 1 hand position to make the techniques a little easier to practice.

Listen Before Leaping

Loop the ActionTab a lot, and get a feel for the tune before practicing. It is important to do this. It will help you get a feel for the melody, how things are being played, and get into the groove. Familiarity with a tune is always important before practicing. It helps you anticipate the next notes and to 'know' when you are doing well (or not) whilst practicing. It also helps you develop your musical ear. The more you break the solo down in your mind before attempting it, the easier it will be to practice it. This is part of the mental preparation that will, with time, help you to pick out licks in songs for yourself!

The Solo

This time the solo is a little more complicated - at least in terms of technique. However, we've kept everything in 1 hand position, which will help you focus and practice on getting the techniques down easier. Before getting to the techniques, let's quickly look at the melody....

There is a basic structure to the melody, closely tied to the backing chords.

Backing Chord: Em7 - Play Low E followed by harmonic Em chord.
Backing Chord: Asus4 - Play pentatonic lick.
Repeat this 4 times (the pentatonic licks are different each time over the Asus4 chord)
Backing Chords: C, D & Em7 - melody changes by just using notes more closely related to the backing chords. e.g. C note is played over the C major chord.

After this point, the melody is more diverse. The notes still closely follow the backing chord progression, but in a less structured way. Additionally, there are more techniques applied to show you some important 'sweet touches' (for that expressive playing). Let's talk about those now.

The first thing to notice is that although the Low E string is played, you should always keep your 1st finger ready in position over fret 12. This rule applies to the whole solo. You don't need to move your fretboard hand to play the Low E, because it is an open string note! The rest of the lead guitar will be played around fret 12, mostly using the E pentatonic minor scale - but not strictly.

The harmonic chord is the first technique used. Lay your 1st finger gently across the top 3 strings at the 12th fretwire and strum. Then instantly remove your finger. This should chime out the harmonics, giving the G, B, E (ordered from low to high) harmonic notes in a chord. The E minor triad is E, G, B and the backing chord is Em7 (E, G, B, D), so this layers over the backing music very nicely. It's a nice technique to use, and a good alternative to a standard fretted chord because of the harmonic sound. If you are lost, see the Core Skills section on Harmonics.

Asides from the bends, hammer ons, pull offs and slides used (you should be at least somewhat familiar with their use by now!), notice the use of double bends. For the double bends notice we are including our friend (the C# note from the last ActionTab). Double bends are a particularly expressive technique, and can be a wonderful way to bring more to your playing. Here we use them with pull offs and hammers too.

Keep your fingers at a shallow angle to the frets for these parts of the solo. You'll need a shallower angle to get enough strength into those double bends with your fingers. Practice these slowly at first. Part of the difficulty in getting them is making sure your picking hand is under control - only pick the strings you are bending! It's easy to be so focused on the bends that you neglect your other hand.

Lastly, notice that vibrato is sparingly used. Vibrato is a great technique and can add a lot of expression to your solos, however, it can be overdone. It's best to use it in places where it will add something extra, rather than use it just because there's room to do so. At a couple of points the whammy bar is used (here and here) to get some nice vibrato from the sustained (held) bent notes.

Just bend the note as normal, and as you reach the high point of the bend, gently waver the whammy bar up and down, holding the note until it fades. It is notes like this that people remember in your solos, but they take a little practice. That's mostly because you need to make time to grab for the whammy bar whilst performing the bend. Believe it or not, that takes a little getting used to...especially if you have an unusual tremelo system. But stay with it, soon your picking hand will just know where to go.

If you don't have a whammy bar, you can bend the note and then waver it at its apex, effectively applying normal vibrato to the bend. However, you won't easily get the same range afforded by the whammy bar.

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