Blues Guitar Lessons

In the following chapters, you'll get a dozen or so examples of cliche solos with standard swing accompaniments. The licks and riffs you'll hear are the ones played by all the big guys on the classic albums; from T-Bone Walker to B.B. King and from Charlie Christian to Hollywood Fats.

They are organized around blues position. But instead of just having the blues scale as a starting point we now have the mixolydian scale to deal with, too!

Adding the notes of this scale will spice up your solos and give you all the nice lines.

One thing to remember in all these solos is that you have to move with the chords. The blues scale can be played on all the chords in a standard blues progression, but every chord has its own mixolydian scale.

To make this a little easier, we're going to introduce a Standard Riff.

This riff can be played on every chord in every position. It'll give you a simple but effective tool to learn all the scale positions and connect them to the blues scales you already know.

This Standard Riff (S.R.) is the mother of all cliches and if you ever listened to any swing, jump or rock & roll, you've heard it.

S.R. in 1st Blues Pos - CD 54   (mp3 click here : )

TAB S.R. in 1st Blues Position

Look at the 1st Blues Position and you can see that this S.R. begins and ends on the tonic of the scale and the chord. On a blues in A, it can be used on the I chord.

Playing through a blues progression and using this riff, you've got to move with the chords. On a blues in A you move the lick up 5 frets to play the IV chord D7 version and 7 frets to play on the V chord E7.

Solo Standard Riff 1 - CD 55 (mp3 click here : )

TAB Solo Standard Riff Ex 01

Use your index finger to play the minor third of the scale and hammer on with your middle finger.

You can not play a D blues scale when you're playing a D chord in a blues in A! Try it and you'll hear why. The minor third of the D blues scale is a no-no in a blues in A.

The Standard Riff uses notes of the mixolydian scale and adds the minor third of the blues scale.

Note: anticipating

The Standard Riff for each chord starts in the bar BEFORE that chord! It anticipates the NEXT chord; you start the S.R. on D7 in the 4th bar. At that time the A7 is still being played and the tension this creates is a big part of blues.

Standard Riff in the 3rd Blues Position

The Standard Riff can be played all over the neck of the guitar. There are several ways of fingering it, each with its own sound. Most are easy to play and you don't have to move around a lot. Some are awkward and you'll never use them. The Standard Riff fits nicely in the 1st Blues Position. Easy to see where to start when you focus on the tonic of the I chord; 3rd fret of the 1st and 6th string or 5th fret of the 4th string.

S.R. in the 3rd Blues Position - CD 57

TAB Standard Riff in the 3rd Blues Position

The Standard Riff can also be found with the tonic on the 2nd string. Standard Riff 2 starts with your pinkie on the tonic on the second string. It fits exactly in the 3rd Blues Position. Play the hammer-on from the minor to the major third with your ring finger. To find the IV chord version of this riff move 7 frets back to find your tonic D and 5 frets back to find the V chord E7.

Solo Standard Riff 2 - CD 56

TAB Solo Standard Riff Ex. 02

If you combine the IV and V chord versions of this Standard Riff with the one we already know, you'll end up with Solo Standard Riff Example 2.

We're moving with the chords and playing exactly the same lick on each of the tonics.

The riffs fit nicely into the first blues position and offer us a bunch of extra notes on top of the blues scale. Combining the Standard Riffs in the two positions we know covers a large part of the fretboard in one haul.


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