This week we’re going to try something a little different. I’ve created a guitar backing track for you guys to solo along to, but first I’m going to show you some of the things you can do to improvise along to it.
As with the other videos I’m creating now, if this is popular I will continue it, but if it isn’t, I wont- so if you like this idea, please like this video to let me know.
The Backing Track
This track is in the key of C Major. I thought that, if this is continued, I could do a track in each key (which will probably later include modes and other stuff).
This first chord progression actually pays tribute to one of my favourite composers who also wrote a piece in each key– J.S. Bach. Despite having a very ‘major’ or ‘happy’ sounding chord progression, I’ve recorded it with a ‘dirtier’ rock feel (click here for the PDF file).
Mirroring the first piece from Bach’s ‘Das Wohltempirierte Klavier’ the chord progression for the first part of this track goes: C – Dm/C (Dm7) – G7/B – C- all safely in the key of C major. This may sound like a simple beginning, but there are yet plenty of things that you can do with this.
For starters, you could use the C major scale- but you’ll have to know what you’re doing because that scale has 7 notes, and not all of them will fit well with the chords!
So, I suggest, if you’re a beginner, start with the C major pentatonic. This first section lends itself well to very melodic lines, and one of the most melodic strategies, is to follow the chord tones as they pass by- and this requires you to know your chord shapes.
The second section of this track starts off with a more ‘grittier’ A minor tonality. The chord progression is: ‘Am/C – Dm/C – G7/B – C’ so it’s a slight variation on the first section. The A minor here suggests- at least to me- to use the A minor pentatonic here especially (to get that grittier sound).
In the example, I’ve played through one repeat of each section, to give you the idea. If you would like to download the full backing track, click here.
In the example solo, I start off fairly simply by following the chord tones (playing the notes that form part of each chord and making that into a melody). For example, as the first note, I bend the 15th fret on the B string up a tone so that it’s an E (which matches the ‘E’ in the C major chord underneath).
After creating a short, melodic section with techniques such as these, I then move on to using the ‘three-note-per-string’ major scale (3nps) to get some faster runs in. Remember: if you do try a faster run or flurry of notes, make sure you end the sequence or idea on a note that fits the underlying chord or harmony! Otherwise it’ll almost never sound good.
For the second section, I start by using the A minor pentatonic scale and switch to the bridge pickup. I was thinking about the solo building and becoming more aggressive and edgy at this point, after the melodic beginning. The pentatonic scale is great for ‘heavier’ sounding licks and phrases, as I demonstrate in the video.
I end the section by sweeping the arpeggios of the chords as they pass by- another technique that you can use to play fast without having to decide over every single note. I combine this with some tapping from the C major scale.
I do continue the solo after this with various different ideas, but this is where I’ve ended it in the video.
I hope this has been useful, and please feel free to send in any suggestions for future videos.
If you really want to get into playing lead guitar, my new book ‘Awesome Lead Guitar’ is out now. In it you’ll learn the most common scales and techniques that lead guitarists use with full scale diagrams and tabs!
Then, you can practise along with the 17 included full solo examples and backing tracks! Click here now for more.