Altered Dominant Chord Soloing Techniques

Sharp 5, Flat 5, Sharp 9, Flat 9

In the last lesson we analyzed the spelling and formula of a basic dominant 7 chords sound and the most logical tensions (extentions) of the chord. Let’s quickly review that information in terms of a C dominant 7 chord.


Dominant chords are often turned into altered dominant chords by flating or sharping the 5th and or the 9th. Below is a way for you to visualize these 4 altered notes in relation to a C dominant 7 chord.


Now, let’s get you ear working! Although this is not a course in how to play and name chords, listen to the altered dominant chords below and practice them on your guitar, ascribing a name (#5, b5, #9, b9) to each of these 4 distinct sounds.



Guitar Tab And Printed Studies

Acrobat PrinterClick here to open the sheet music and TAB for the four altered dominant ideas found in the video above. Use the diagram and Youtube backing track below to gain fluency with a G7 arpeggio, practice playing the provided solos and also of course as practice for improvising your own ideas.

Funky G7 Vamp For Play Along


The diagram below will help you to memorize the location of the altered tensions in relation to a root 6 G7 chord. Experiment with altered notes slowly, without the backing track, reinforcing their sound against the G7 arpeggio.


Transpose To C7; Common Shapes And Play Along

Play the common knowledge C7 chord shape below then rhythmically pick your way through the arpeggio -repeat the C7 chord and continue to expereiment with the altered notes. When this starts to sound good and in time to you, test out your new ideas against a one bar C7 vamp backing track.


Roots Music: Bluin’ The Blues

My suggestion for anyone studying this course is to become a student of melody, of styles and of eras. The rules of music and melody do not ever, nor will they ever change. When I hear an interesting, unusual or exciting melody I learn it, analyze it, extract the best ideas from the melody and then quite simply, I steal it. I adapt those new ideas into my playing, furthering my goal of creating a unique style. the recording below is a guitar driven version of an amazing jazz song written in 1918, what do you think? To go further in depth with this tune, print out PDF lesson notes just below the lead sheet.



Acrobat Printer Click Here to find a complete study, including TAB and melodic analysis for Bluin’ The Blues.

Funky C Blues Play Along Track

This lesson is all about giving yourself time and space to hear the arpeggios, the sound of the dominant 7 chords themselves, and the added tensions, which are the ‘spices’ -each adding their own unique sound and flavor. Below is our Funk style 12 bar blues in the key of C, use the play along track to “stretch out”, or push yourself to the limits of your comfort zone and beyond. Remember, you are learning to make great note choices, not to buzz around scales.

Course Objectives To This Point

This course in lead guitar playing begins not with a discussion of scales and licks but with a discussion of chord sounds, chord shapes and arpeggios. Guitarists traditionally start out by learning their pentatonic scales, box patterns and classic songs. When our studies turn to improvisation, we then are taught to run up and down, or start “blowing” on modes of the major scale and melodic minor over various standards, blues and classic jamming tunes -right?

When I was a student, this approach left me feeling flat and unsatisfied. Althought I knew I had to know the chord-scale relationships, the normal songs and hot licks all the other guys in guitar college knew, I wanted to speak the language of music and make memorable melodies and play my own style of solos. We will fully discuss and understand lead guitar scales in this course but the next step towards our musical goals is learning to play the changes, or imitate the sound of the chords we hear with our lead guitar playing.


“My first experience with the guitar was taking lessons from Karl Aranjo as a high school student. His lessons were more than just a collection of tips and riffs: they were a method. As I look through, I get to take a trip back through those lessons and am reminded about I loved about them. His strong focus on the fundamentals quickly draws a connection between general music theory and the particulars of how that theory can be applied to the guitar, even allowing us as guitarists to use our instrument as an abacus-like tool to enhance our musical insight. In high school, Karl’s lessons got me up to speed to jam with my friends and in the school band almost immediately. In the almost 20 years since I left high school and had my last lesson with Karl, the things he taught me have continued to serve me well; I’ve played almost continuously in a variety of styles (jazz, rock, funk, folk), both as a hobby and as a part-time professional (currently playing with San Francisco’s Smash-Up Derby). If I hadn’t grown up in the same town as where Karl taught, I might have missed out on a lifetime of fun playing the guitar. With, wherever you are, you can benefit from the same quality instruction that I had!

-Grahm Ruby

“Mr. Karl Aranjo is one great teacher to work with. When working with him, he is very flexible, and will teach you all the basics and fundamentals you will need while learning how to play the guitar. From learning basic chords to crazy licks and solo’s. You will become an expert in no time and looking like a professional guitar player. In my experience, I learned to master chord progressions much easier and understand it in a better perspective. In my music career/hobby, it has given me nothing but success to play in a band as a front man/rhythm guitarist, compose my own type of music, and as well as songs that I really wanted to learn how to play on the guitar. Learning through Karl Aranjo was a great experience and has helped me understand the guitar a lot easier, I would not have wanted this learning experience any other way.”

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“I had the pleasure of being a guitar student of Karl’s for several years. Karl advanced my playing ability a great deal very quickly by giving me a perfect combination of guitar technique, theory and assigning songs that motivated me to continue learning. I highly recommend Karl for all level of guitar players no matter if you are a beginner or advanced.”

-Tom Hunt

”Karl Aranjo is a great and experienced teacher with an extensive knowledge of guitar playing and theory. His thorough online course, covers the whole spectrum from the first time beginner to advanced.”

Blake Aaron- Internationally Known Recording Artist

”Karl helped me dive into the blues when I was first starting out, and learning how to improvise opened up many doors for me on guitar. He has a vast knowledge ranging many musical styles, and i would recommend him to anyone trying to learn the instrument!”

Eric Cannata Young The Giant