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Blues Guitar Solo

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Phrasing your Blues Solo's

Many players who are used to styles like rock, metal or funk struggle with the concept of phrasing their solo's by having periods of short rest between licks.  Such a player might be tempted to play an overflow of notes, warring away with many riffs and notes in an attempt to play an impressive solo.

But with a Blues guitar solo, less is most certainly more.  The worst thing you can do when leading in Blues, is to start rambling.  You simply do not need a multitude of notes, strewn around the fretboard to play something capturing.  On the contrary, in Blues guitar, playing a three or four note lick with expression is worth more than playing a technically difficult riff. 

I want to reiterate what I mentioned in the introduction to his series:  It doesn't matter if you base your licks around four notes only, as long as you MEAN those notes, they will sound stunning.  By
'mean' I'm suggesting that you add emotion and feeling to them.  One of the best ways to do this is to have short rests between licks.

When playing a Blues guitar solo or lick, you should never hesitate to take a breather.  There is no such thing as an
'awkward silence' in Blues Guitar and few things give more expression to a lead piece than phrasing.

If you're use to playing in styles where the guitar is almost always busy, you might need to learn the art of phrasing, pausing and using intervals during your licks.  It's one of the trademarks of an experienced Blues player.

A Note on Transcribing

Licks form an integral part of any Blues guitar player's toolbox and this site has a whole section devoted to it..  The more licks you have ingrained in your brain, the more ammunition you have to put on a stunning show and play soulful, passionate Blues.  It's therefore essential that you don't just learn and copy the licks from these lessons (Though as a beginner Blues player, they will be your most important), but that you learn licks from different artists in different styles of Blues.  This is where transcribing will help you.

Transcribing is the art of tabbing out or writing down the notation of a piece of music, in our case, guitar music.  If there's a specific Blues artist you like, grab a pencil and tab-sheet and see if you can jot down the notes of one of his Blues licks, then play your own notation to hear if it sounds right and adjust where necessary.

Transcribing is a very important part of enhancing your skill as an artist and one of the best methods to train your ear.  While many players find it difficult in the beginning, the good news is that transcribing gets easier the more you do it.
So keep it in mind and the next time you hear a cool sounding Blues riff, pull out your guitar and try to emulate, then jot down the notes.

Wrapping it up

If you've run through the Blues Guitar Lessons one by one, you'll have mastered the following (click on the links to revisit any pages you might have missed, or to review):

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Proceed from Blues guitar solo and have a look at some of these Blues Guitar Licks

Or check out the section on Blues Guitar Backing tracks for free downloads
You'll probably want to put all of these techniques into practice and the good news is that you can.  I've provided a set of 18 Blues licks that incorporate all of these techniques and will set you on your way to composing your own.
Blues Guitar Solo & Transcribing
The importance of taking it easy....
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