In Depth Analysis Of The Solo

The Big Picture

Your awareness here should be of the key of A, and your new blues-rock vocabulary. Your fingers must be totally sure and swift with several patterns and the various ideas often associated with rock & blues in the key -often simplified into the conglomerate or composite scale pictured below.


To achieve that traditional rock or blues sound, the A minor pentatonic scale is seen as the scale of first choice, the scale that makes the classic rock and traditional blues sound.

First 4 Bars

Chord progressions normally work in groups of 2 or 4 bars, this is the natural phrasing for length of individual ideas that comprise solos in rock and blues material also. Amazingly, most of us like to play 2 bar phrases as a means of constructing solos, if you analyze your favorite rock and blues improvisations, you will most probably agree with me. The first 4 bars of the song clearly convey the sound of an A7 chord with a traditional blues lick This is achieved with working the wailing sound of the 3rd string, D fret VII, being bent up higher in pitch and released when it reaches the approximate sound of E. Just when the bend approximates the sound of an E note, an E note is in fact played on fret V of string 2 -the sharp wailing bend is the Chuck Berry influence. The initial two bar phrase is repeated in the second two bars, adding a sense of cohesiveness and reminding us that repetition of small musical ideas is a great melody producing technique


Bars 5 & 6

The 2 bar phrase clearly announces and creates a D7 chord sound by beating on two notes found in a D7 Chord as is pictured below. In a simple yet convincing way the soloist has “played the change” -that is to say the solo reflects the sound and feel of the chord progression. The notes in the solo directly reflect the notes of a D7 chord and therefore its sound.

Bars 7 & 8

As the harmony switches back to A7 we switch our focus back to the key of A for a little bouncing on the A root note with alternate double stops found on frets V & VII. Think of these boxy licks as being derived from the master fingering pattern for the key of A. This returns us to the key and again “makes the change.”


Bar 9

The solo wants to sound like an E7 Chord, or at least make a sound very reminiscent of or suggesting the personality and basic sound of the E7 Chord. For this purpose, you can use the 5 notes of the “house” pattern. This lick uses those 5 notes, played in order from lowest to highest. The 5th and final note in the sequence, D, is bent up to the pitch of E the sound is then returned to the original D pitch with a release bend. This is a very tasty and typical lick, keep it in mind for those situations when you really want to announce the V chord.

Bar 10

An all-time classic cooker, this little gem makes a great big rock and roll sound in no time flat. As a bonus the three nnote, of the lick D – C and A are all found in the spelling of a D7 chord.

Bar 11

The root of a chord, A over A7 in this case, always sounds good, the root is the best sounding and strongest possible lead note.

Bar 12

Playing two notes from the 12 fret form of E7, or more precisely, E & B, the root and fifth of the E7 chord. Alternatively, look at this as part of the rock and blues pattern, key of E 12th fret, as another way of making the changes.


Backing Track & FAQ

The backing track below is the music you have been working minus the lead guitar part, practicn in time, with a track, metronome or drum machine is the fastest way to become a competant soloist.

The answer to my most frequently asked question is this; “Yes, at some point in their careers, top notch guitarists think of everything they do with this kind of detail”.


Return To Lesson 19


“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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