Here’s a quick way to play the good sounding notes

Now you know the pentatonic scale and maybe played with it, it’s time to learn some more

Lets assume you want to improvise a blues solo. The standard blues progression looks like this

| A7    | D7     | A7     | A7     |
| D7    | D7     | A7     | A7     |
| E7    | D7     | A7     | E7     |

This is a major blues, but it could just as well be a minor blues. Just replace the Major chords with minor chords. A7 becomes Am7 for instance.

When you play the pentatonic scale soon you will notice some notes sound better than others. This depends on the chord that’s being played. Especially the E7 chord will prove to be a pain in the butt.

I’ll show you which notes sound good on each of these three chords. Each chord has it’s own good sounding notes.

Lets start with the A7 chord.

A-penta-note

The black notes will sound great. The gray notes will not sound that awesome.

D-penta-note

You can use a A minor Pentatonic scale on a D7 chord, but there are more notes to avoid.

E-penta-note

And this is why the E7 chord is so ‘nasty’ to play over using this scale. You can use just a few notes of the scale on it..

It’s not to say you can’t play the gray notes on that chord! Just don’t put too much attention on them. The black notes are the notes that sound good and you can let them ring out. You can still use the gray notes in your licks.

The most important thing is to use your ears. When it doesn’t sound right move up or down one note in the scale. Move up or down a scale position. But now you know exactly which notes will do the trick. These good sounding notes will get your improvsing, your solo’s up to the next level.

As an excercise you could record an A7, D7 or E7 chord and play this scale to get familiar with the notes you can use. A Looper look the Tc Electronic Ditto or the Boss RC3 comes in very handy at times like these.

Practise and have fun

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To people that want to improvise but can’t get started

You picked up the guitar a while ago and learned some songs. You can make it sound really nice and have fun playing these songs, but…

How do they play (those) solo’s?

You can learn the notes of the solo’s you hear, because they’re probably all over the net. Search for ” [song-title] solo tab”.

If you’re like me you want to come up with solo’s of your own. You want to learn to improvise. But… where do you start?

The answer is simple: Learn the pentatonic scale!

The pentatonic scale is a scale of five notes and it’s really easy to play. Every guitarist began soloing in the pentatonic scale. It sounds good, it’s the most used scale in rock, blues, and so on and you can learn it really fast. See the diagram below.

Standard Pentatonic scale

This is the pentatonic scale on a small area of the neck. Don’t worry you can have lots of fun with just this scale form. The red dots are the root notes of the minor pentatonic scale. There’re other scale forms you can learn to cover the whole neck. But I suggest you start here.

Now check out this video where I play this scale so you can play along and have an idea how to play it.

Extended minor pentatonic scale

See the diagram below for the extended slide variation of this scale,

Slide form Pentatonic

In the video below I play the extended version of the scale so you can check it out. I also show you an alternative fingering for the highest note. Pay attention to the fingering when you switch from the g-string to the b-string.

Your ring finger is on the 9th position and your index finger goes to the 8th position

This is the scale to get used to and to play around with. You’ll have so much fun.

What can you play?

Go to Youtube and search for “blues backing track in A”  or you can of course look for a  rock track. Play along with these tracks and learn to use the scale. I used to put on some Eric Clapton songs and just play over the entire track. I just played over it like I was part of the band. Listen for the root note. Move your index finger around the low E-string and find the note that sounds good. That’s probably the root note of the scale and play your heart out.

Have fun!
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