One of the best ways to add spice and variety to your blues guitar solos is to look closely at the techniques that you are using in your playing.
The blues is all about nuance and feel. It is not about how many different scales or notes you can play. In fact, the majority of famous blues guitar solos are constructed using nothing more than the minor pentatonic, major pentatonic and blues scales. As such, if you want to construct emotional and interesting guitar solos, you need to focus on your technique.
I appreciate that this is so obvious it is hardly worth stating. Technique is a crucial part of learning to play the guitar. And this is not just in the blues, but across all genres. So if you want to improve as a guitar player, you have to work consistently on your technique and make it a key part of your practice routine.
If you want to improve as a blues guitar player however, I think it is worth taking this one step further. In my belief you have to look at lead guitar techniques at a granular level if you want to execute them effectively in your playing.
In my opinion there are three key reasons for this, which are as follows:
Firstly, many of the techniques most widely used in the blues – like vibrato and bending – are highly nuanced and deceptively challenging. Dig down into one of these techniques and you will continue to discover and pull out new ideas you can implement in your playing.
So many players learn a technique and then move straight onto something else. Yet in my opinion this is a mistake. You might be able to bend your strings. But being able to bend your strings like the blues greats requires you to focus in a dedicated way on the topic. And the same goes for all of the different techniques out there, not just bending and vibrato.
Secondly, even if you feel that you have a solid grasp of the various techniques covered in this course, I suspect you will not be using them all with great frequency. And if that is the case, then implementing one or two of them will really breathe life into your solos.
It is easy to become reliant on a handful of techniques. And if you are not careful, this can make your solos sound boring and repetitive. Adding new techniques – or refocusing on those that you implement rarely – will reinvigorate your playing and help you to break out of the creative rut in which you might be stuck.
As a final point, it is worth noting that every guitar technique out there offers great potential for you as an improviser. There are so many ways that you can implement even the simplest of techniques. And every time you introduce a new technique or refocus on a technique you don’t often play, you have to adapt to that technique. This can enrich your guitar solos, and also bring out totally different approaches in your playing. It will help you to create new ideas and will ensure your continued development as a soloist.
So whilst we will just be focused on individual techniques in this course, it is important to recognise that each of these techniques has the potential to change your playing more broadly.
With all of this in mind then, in this course we are going to do a deep dive into 5 techniques that you can use in your guitar solos to make them more interesting and varied.
If you are just getting started on lead blues guitar, then these techniques are likely to be new to you. In which case you can implement them in your playing straight away. This will add greater depth to your solos and allow you to get more mileage from all of your licks and phrases.
Conversely, if you have been improvising and playing the blues for some time, I suspect that you will be familiar with these techniques. However that doesn’t mean that you are necessarily using them with any frequency. Challenge yourself to implement these techniques in novel ways. Mix them into your playing and you will soon breathe new life into your improvisations.
So with that in mind, let’s get into it! Here are 5 techniques that you can use to spice up your blues guitar solos: