Night Classes are ten-week TrueFire
Week three of Intermediate Blues Rock Solos takes a look at Jeff Scheetz’ solo “Straight Up” from his Rock Solid TrueFire course.
Most of the best songs rarely stray from the basics. The same holds true for the more enjoyable styles of music. If you look at the music from straight ahead rock bands like the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or John Mellencamp, the majority of it consists of straight forward progressions with great melodies on top. This week’s song follows suit, featuring an uncluttered groove that’s perfect for a nice melodic solo.
A list of great melodic guitarists would be incomplete without Journey’s Neal Schon. He has a great style that keeps things melodic and bluesy at the same time. A way we can do this is by incorporating slides to move between positions, keeping things smooth. Of course, note selection also enters into the equation. Think like a singer (don’t act like one) and really listen for the melodies.
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The chord progression Jeff solos over is fairly basic; three bars of Am to G followed by a bar of D to C. Jeff starts in the first blues position in key of A, accenting the D and C chords with double-stops in the fourth bar. The second four bar pattern features a cool minor 3rd interval that contains the move back to the fifth blues position.
In last week’s lesson, Jeff played at the bottom of the fifth blues position, starting with his ring finger on the sixth string. The top part of this position has the tonics located on the fifth fret of the first string and the second fret of the third string.
Check out Jeff’s slides up the blues scale at the end of the second four bar part. He moves from the first position to the second, ending on the tonic A on the tenth fret of the second string.
The following lick sits nicely in the fifth blues position, one octave up from where we were earlier. The sounds available from each position differ slightly as well as offering alternative fingering positions to facilitate certain licks.
This video contains the breakdown of the solo. Because the chord progression contains a D major chord, we will use a Dorian scale. The F# note from the D chord is the major 6th over the A tonic in this progression. This F# is featured in the double-stop lick in the fourth measure. The quick slide back on the second string ends on the seventh fret, again F#. The Dorian is a minor scale with the major 6th added. If you feel like brushing up on this mode, check out week ten of the Blues Rock Solos 101 Lesson Plan.
Practice Regimen For Week 3
Day 1: Go back and review last week’s lesson material. Spend some extra time getting comfortable with the three Mixolydian scales. There are many solo ideas available from these scales. If you would like to look into these modes further, check out weeks six and up of the Solid Blues Solos TrueFire Lesson Plan. Finish up by playing along with last week’s jam track targeting the roots, 5ths and major 3rds of the progression’s chords.
Day 2: Study video one, then run through the A Dorian scale in the first position. This scale can be found by adding the major 2nd and the major 6th to the A minor pentatonic scale, which would be B and F#, respectively. Once comfortable, improvise along with the jam track using the Dorian scale.
Day 3: Watch video two and print the chart from this solo. The A minor pentatonic scale consists of A, C, D, E and G. Start playing this scale up and down across two octaves, starting with the ring finger on the tonic A at the fifth fret of the sixth string. The additional tonics will be on the second fret of the third string and the fifth fret of the first string – the fifth position of the A minor pentatonic scale. Finally, improvise over the jam track using the fifth position.
Day 4: Learn the solo’s individual licks and play them slowly while tapping your foot, taking care with the sliding licks. Each time you play one make sure you know which blues position you are in or moving to. Next, play all of the D and C barre chords you know. Look at their fret positions and chart them out if needed. Next, improvise with the jam track sticking with the A minor pentatonic scale for the Am-G progression while using chord notes for the D-C progression – use the fret positions you charted out earlier. Study the solo’s chart to figure out how Jeff approaches these notes, i.e. where does he follow the chords and where does he stick to the scale?
Day 5: Play along to the jam track while improvising using the Dorian scale horizontally, which means remaining on one string the duration of the solo. Incorporate slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs and bends. Begin on string one, repeat with string two, and so on. Once that’s done, put all of the individual licks together and play the complete solo on top of the jam track.
Night Classes are ten-week TrueFire