Guitar Soloing #3 Solo #1 Solo #2

Soloing It's not rocket Science!

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There are many different approaches to Soloing  

There is a school of thought that teaches that;

 there is a name for every combination of notes,

and that you should learn them! 

This is all very well but like saying that;

 someone who memorizes all the numbers in the phonebook is "Clever"

Those of us that started out before the Internet and Rock Music colleges were invented, managed by fumbling around until we found a few phrases that we could string together.


This is a bit like: "I remember when I was a lad..."  

but it is actually true and worth sharing! :-) 

There was no....."Tablature" "Tab" had not been "invented" yet

as far as I was aware in 1970 when I started. 

There was no...."Internet" In 1970 when I started playing we had just got a TV! 

Music books consisted of  Bert Weedon's "Play in a day" and others were written out

by classical piano people who generously wrote the Chord over the score

which although technically correct bore no resemblance to what the guitar was playing. 

Teaching Tapes /Cds/DvDs  hadn't been invented. yet  

There were no..  Guitar teachers as such although I did go for lessons

to Mr George Mabire to whom I will always be grateful

as he taught me all the basic open position chords

and the 2nd week sent me on my way once I could play them 

Your mates.. who now will show you anything, (because they learnt it from a tab)

but at that time they wouldn't pass on a note  because the only reason that they had learnt it was, by staying in all week/holidays whatever and working it out note by note and they wouldn't be in a rush to show you. There was only room for one "Axe Hero" at the school gig! 

I used to go to (school type) gigs particularly to see if you could pick up the next note or two of a particular song usually from one of the older boys.

I seem to remember a few of us crammed up the front,  waiting for "Slasher" to play the intro to "Blowin' Free" as we couldn't work it out. Some of them ("Lloyd") used to hide and/or turn around

so you couldn't always see what they were doing! 


What I did find after a few years of hibernation was that although  solos didn't always follow the same pattern there was a blue print around which most of the "Rock" solos were based,

the ones I was listening to anyway!


This was later reinforced when I joined bands and had to play the solo in the songs


Initially I started out learning note for note and working out how everything went together as best as I could. This however turned out to be not a very good way to do it because

often one could only remember the next bit if one had played the last bit correctly

so any mistake resulted in everything coming crashing down just like a house of cards


I then moved on to plan 327 (!) which was the learn the solo as best I could and then learn to busk it !

"Busking it " is best described as "It goes something like this"


I realised that there were groups of notes that would all fit and depending on,

 how you felt "today" you could put then in whichever order you wanted and get away with it


This I came to know as the Pentatonic Minor Scale  ( Big Fanfare !)

and by using it and a couple of other notes making;


 1) The Minor Scale (Aeolian Mode)


2) the Blues Scale


With these 2 I had just about all I needed to play the solo


The one other thing I discovered was that

 the notes in one Major Scale were the same as in another Minor scale.

this has massive implications when you understand the relationship



Looking at the Diatonic Scales Chart I have written out,

 you will find that reading from left to right 123455678 gives you the Major Scale notes.


BUT reading from the same scale 67823456 gives you what is called

The Relative Minor (the name of the 6th note)


Using the A scale this gives us


A major = A B C# D E F# G# A

But also

F# minor = F# G# A B C# D E F#

the same notes !


There are some very highly trained "Musicians"

with letters after their names who would dispute this but;

as far as we are concerned (Rock Guitarists)

one major Scale is the same as it's relative minor Scale

A major is the same as  F# minor  etc .


This means we don't need to learn 12 different major scales and 12 different minor scales


just to appreciate that one scale/position could fit for 2 totally different scales/keys


But also we don't need to learn 12 different sets of scales for each Key

 as everything is relative.


Learn the A major/F#minor

and then

1 fret higher it is the A# major/Gminor

2 frets higher it is the B major/ G#minor and so on


This narrows down the whole subject and limits the amount of work/memorising etc


What became apparent to me was that

 it is a good idea to learn everything as a fingering patterns

 rather than as a fret number.


If you learn by fret numbers you can learn 1 shape/scale

if you learn by a fingering pattern then you have learnt all 12 in 1 go !


Ten years after I started playing I then  started teaching

and it was, and still is, a continual learning curve.


I was then presented with lots of different songs/solos

that my students wanted to learn.


Although a lot of this was material that I was unfamiliar with I found that the positions/notes/scales/runs were still valid

even thought the styles of music had changed along with the guitar sounds


As Billy Joel said "It's still rock'n'roll to me"


If you take the basic Johnny B Goode opening riff and play it in A

you will get the notes present in the opening of the Stairway to heaven Solo.


If you think about it there are 12 notes today

and there were 12 notes yesterday

and there will only be 12 notes tomorrow.


Your technique(guitar tricks) and your phrasing(which order you play them)

are what makes the difference


From those 12 notes we select 8 which give us what we call The Major Scale


We then play them as what we call the Aeolian Mode or Minor Scale

to give us what we call The Relative Minor

then we further select only 5 of those notes(13457) to give us the Pentatonic Minor Scale


This is the classic Rock Solo position (there are others)

and a lot of the classic rock riffs revolve around this



"Frets and Fingers" If you learn the shapes below as fingering patterns

you will learn all 12  in one go


        Aeolian Mode/Minor Scale (F)             

         "Frets and Fingers"








Then play the above shape as  below

to give you the Aeolian Mode/Minor Scale

 but starting on the 5th fret = Am










      Pentatonic Minor Scale (Fm) 

    "Frets and Fingers"








Then play the above shape as below

to give you the Pentatonic minor Scale

 but starting on the 5th fret = Am










Blues Scale (F)

"Frets and Fingers"








Then play the above shape as below

to give you the Blues Scale

 but starting on the 5th fret = A Blues Scale









Major Scale (Ionian Mode) ( F#)

"Frets and Fingers"








Then play the above shape as below

to give you the Major Scale

 but starting on the 8th fret = C Major


Major Scale (Ionian Mode) ( C)









Basic Pentatonic Minor ideas

Blues Scale/Aeolian Mode ideas

Backing track

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