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 How to solo in a key...

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Registration date : 2007-06-25

How to solo in a key... Empty
PostSubject: How to solo in a key...   How to solo in a key... Icon_minitimeSun Jul 01, 2007 10:21 am

I received an email from a web friend asking me, "Pastor Brad, how do I solo in a key? I don’t know where to start… can you help me?" Below is my email response... it's a bit spotty... but you'll get the gist. Hopefully it will help you.

Here’s the basic deal, I think this should help you… Understand this... there are only 12 notes that can be played on the guitar... period... no others... those 12 notes are:


A# (or Bb, they are the same note... this is the case for most sharps/flats... the only exceptions are E# and B# there are no such notes... it just goes straight to F or B).


C (note... not B# or Cb, just straight to C)

C# or Db


D# or Eb


F (note, not E# or Fb, just straight to F)

F# or Gb


G# or Ab

THAT'S IT... you can play those 12 notes ALL OVER THE NECK... for example, start on the D string at the 7th fret... that's an A... go up the neck one fret at a time and you will be playing the notes I listed above in that exact order... every time... and as soon as you get to the end.. go up one more fret and IT ALL STARTS OVER. Get it? From A to A is called an "octave"... going up the scale like this (one note at a time hitting all the #'s and b's is called a CHROMATIC SCALE)...

Does that help some? One more thought on Scales and keys...

A MAJOR Scale ALWAYS follows this pattern---

Root (starting note), whole step, whole step, 1/2 step, Whole step, whole step, whole step, 1/2 step EVERY TIME... if you go straight up one string... it works like this... pick a starting note... say G on the low E string (3rd fret), play that note then go up a whole step (2 frets up), then another, then go up ONE fret (a 1/2 step)... and follow the pattern on up to the next octave... WHALA--G Major Scale... you can also play that SAME PATTERN using all the strings or three of the strings... (check out my lesson on the MAJOR SCALE), but EVERY TIME you begin on G (any G on the neck... even the one on fret 17 on the D string!) and play the above pattern, whether you use 2, 3, 4 or all six strings to do it) it will be a G MAJOR SCALE. The same thing applies to any scale.. you learn the "PATTERN" and then apply that anywhere you want.

Chords are based on Scales:
I.e. a G Major Chord is made up of the 1 (root note), 3 (third note in the major scale) and 5 (fifth note in the scale)... check this out... play the scale... note the 1st, 3rd and 5th note you play... now fret a standard, first position G chord (at the 3rd fret) and play the first three notes... there ya go!

RIFFS/LICKS are based on scales too!

When you play lead--you don't just play scales, but you base your licks on scales... ie... you might start on the A note (low E string 5th fret) and rip up the blues pentatonic scale to the G string, 7th fret and bend that note a whole step, and tap at the 12 fret with your picking hand, release that note back to the 7th fret... then release the bend... and trill back and forth between the 5th and 7th frets really fast on the G string... Cool lick... but really it was just a "dressed up pentatonic" scale... and, you know you were in the KEY OF "A" because it was based on the A Pentatonic Blues Scale (i.e your root note was A)... get it?

Is there more to learn? Of course... but that should give you something to work on..

Enjoy practicing!


Pastor Brad
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