Blues guitar improvisation

Improvisation is a key element in blues music. This is an introduction to blues soloing/improvisation. To become a great solo guitarist you need a lot of practice in many different areas, for example listening and repeating, technique, bending notes, scales and simply just a lot of improvising. A good start though is to learn the minor pentatonic scale and the blues scale. We will take a look at these two scales in this blues solo lesson.

The minor pentatonic scale

I won't go too much into theory in this lesson, cause I want you to start improvising as soon as possible. Basically a minor pentatonic scale is a minor scale without the 2nd and 6th notes. It consists of 5 notes. The image below shows an A minor pentatonic scale in its most common position.

A Minor Pentatonic

Try to memorize this pattern and play the scale up and down, to get it into your head and your fingers. Remember where the root (A) is. When improvising to an A blues progression you will really feel at home when playing this note. It's great to memorize where those three A:s are. Explore this scale, improvise and try to really listen to each and every note. It is important to improvise to music to get a good feel for each note related to the roots and the chords. Here is a basic midi background that you can improvise to:

A blues background track

The blues scale

The blues scale is not very different from the minor pentatonic scale, though one important note is added. This note is called the blue note and is very characteristic for blues music. It is very common to bend the note under it a half note up to this note, but if you are not used to bending notes just play it as shown on the image. We will go more into bending in another lesson.

A Minor Bluesscale

Practice this scale the same way and improvise to the blues background track. I'm sure you will have a lot of fun. The next step will be to look at some scale exercises and some basic blues licks.

Here are these two scales in five different positions on the guitar:

Minor pentatonic scale
Minor blues scale

Have fun!

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