Author Topic: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar  (Read 7748 times)

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Online close2u

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Here are some thoughts for all of the folks just beginning on Blues improvisation.

Firstly - just take it easy, one simple thing at a time. If you want to get in to improvising focus only on one scale, the one scale that is the easiest to do this with, the minor pentatonic scale.
Not the major scale.
Not the major pentatonic scale.
Not yet.
Just the minor pentatonic scale.

Online close2u

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2020, 11:54:38 am »
And you start with only one position.
You learn it, slowly, slowly, practice it.
Fully.
Properly.
Cycling around repeatedly with alternate picking.
From low to high.
Then adopt other patterns rather than just ascending / descending in  linear runs of notes up and down
Play 3-in-a-line, 4-in-a-line etc etc.

EDIT
Please see this post for TAB and audio explanations of 3-in-a-line and 4-in-a-line


Do all of this until your fingers and ears know it intrinsically.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2020, 12:43:27 pm by close2u »

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2020, 11:55:16 am »
Next, learn a lick.
Just one lick.

Play it repeatedly until it sounds good.
This is very important.

Note: Many licks require bending technique so make sure to check the post below linking to Justin's bending lesson.

Once you have a lick learned, play it - and it only - over and over and over.
Then play it over a backing track - several backing tracks.

Mess around with the lick, vary it, extend it, shorten it, vary it again.
Make it yours.

Milk that lick for all it is worth until it is beginning to speak your words.

If it isn't speaking then force it - make up some words that it could be saying - these can be nonsense at first, just make it say something.
Imagine that lick as an expression of something you want to say or sing.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2020, 07:56:38 am by close2u »

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2020, 11:57:27 am »
Lick 1



https://soundcloud.com/mrclose2u/lick-1

What could this be saying?

"I feel blue"

"You done bad"

"Get you gone"

"Kiss me now"

"My head hurts"

Yadda yadda yadda.

Just words.
Or sounds.
Or grunts.
Or moans.
Anything that fits expressively.

By the time you have extracted lots and lots of goodness from this one little lick you may be exhausted from the blues emotion!

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2020, 11:58:04 am »
Then do the same with Lick 2.




https://soundcloud.com/mrclose2u/lick-2


What is this lick saying? What can you say with it? How many ways can you say / play that phrase?

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2020, 11:59:03 am »
Lick 3.



https://soundcloud.com/mrclose2u/lick-3

What is this saying?
What do you want to say with it?

Online close2u

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2020, 11:59:28 am »
Lick 4.



https://soundcloud.com/mrclose2u/lick-4

Make this one speak.

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2020, 12:00:01 pm »
Lick 5.



https://soundcloud.com/mrclose2u/lick-5

Make it cry, make it sing.
Make it do your thing.

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2020, 12:00:39 pm »
With all of these licks you want to take them as mere starting points, as suggestions, as skeleton templates upon which you can create and build your blues sounds.

Play them, sing them, feel them and mess around with them.
Fully.
Properly.

Before even thinking of learning a second pattern.
Some guitarists spend their whole lives mining the goodness from pattern 1 so don’t be in a hurry to move on and leave it behind.

Enjoy it.

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2020, 12:01:03 pm »
In reference to Justin’s Blues course …

Start with this lesson

It explains the rationale and thinking.

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2020, 12:01:23 pm »
Then this lesson just looking at scale pattern 1.

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2020, 12:01:38 pm »
Then this lesson looking at bending.

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2020, 12:02:27 pm »
Then this lesson which teaches you five licks to improvise with.
These are the licks as shown above.

And you will need to spend a lot of time - hours and more - just fiddling around with these to play them as taught, to deconstruct them and play them as fragments, to play them as new licks that you create by putting the fragments back together in different order.

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2020, 12:04:49 pm »
Justin does explain it really well.

Playing the scales is one thing.
And you must practice them around and around, over and over, preferably to a metronome or click track at differing speeds.
Alternate picking.

But using them purposefully is crucial to instilling them in your head and fingers.


When I was learning the minor pentatonic shapes I learned one pattern and I did not move on to the next pattern until I had really learned and used ... that is, played loads of scale practices ... 3-in-a-line, 4-in-a-line, random change of direction, string skipping etc etc etc ... and learned licks and played them over and over backwards, forwards, broken down and reconstituted .... and improvised over loads of backing tracks too.

You have to work with these licks, really work them.
Honestly and truly, you have to play one lick over a 3-4 minute backing track and really listen how it works over the chord changes.
Then do it with a different backing track that has a different tempo, vibe, groove.
You will find you play the lick differently again - it will say new things.
You will say new things with it.

Then start messing with the licks, to do something different, putting your own spin on them.

That is the key to improvising.

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2020, 12:05:12 pm »
Check this other lesson on using licks effectively.

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2020, 12:05:32 pm »
For backing tracks to play over check this thread:

backing track thread

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2020, 12:06:03 pm »
Also, Justin has backing tracks to purchase and has recently opened a new Youtube channel highlighting some of these.

JustinGuitar Jams

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2020, 12:06:53 pm »
Dive in.
Dig them blues.
Let it rip and let yourself go.
 8)

Offline DavidP

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2020, 12:48:56 pm »
(Yet more) Good vibes, Richard,  for laying it out here for folks and leading them to the Blues Lead programme ...

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2020, 01:21:01 pm »
I have my own personal Jesu tutor  :)

Vibes to that man!

Offline DavidP

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2020, 01:30:01 pm »
I have my own personal Jesu tutor  :)

Vibes to that man!

Thanks for a mid-afternoon laugh, Brian ... one day I shall try that one the Johnny Cash way ...

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2020, 03:01:28 pm »
Thanks for this tutorial close. I tried your first two licks for half an hour getting nowhere as I couldn’t get my guitar to sound anything like yours on your souncloud clips. Then, as you suggested, I watched Justin’s lesson on string bending. Now I’m getting somewhere.

I would say to anyone else in my position that you must watch the string bend lesson before trying any of the licks.
Studying Intermediate Course, Folk Fingerstyle and Blues modules.
Pickin’ an’ lickin’.....😎.
Martin D28 : Gibson SG : Boss Katana 50.
Road case : https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=48801.0

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2020, 03:12:55 pm »
I would emphasise to anyone else in my position that you must watch the string bend lesson before trying any of the licks.

Hear, hear!
But bear in mind- watching the lesson is not enough ;)

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2020, 03:17:02 pm »
But bear in mind- watching the lesson is not enough ;)
So that’s what’s wrong. I’ve watched every one of Justin’s lessons and still can’t play guitar!
Studying Intermediate Course, Folk Fingerstyle and Blues modules.
Pickin’ an’ lickin’.....😎.
Martin D28 : Gibson SG : Boss Katana 50.
Road case : https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=48801.0

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Re: Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2020, 12:31:33 am »
Good primer for first attempts at learning to play lead guitar, but if you are following someone else's riffs or tabs, it isn't improvisation. Take one or more of those tabs and change a few notes here and there and you will be improvising.

 

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