I recently worked with the Blues Licks and Solos DVD from Watch and Learn to study some blues guitar solos that sound good. As I study the licks and solos in this course I've come to understand some of the mistakes I make that ruin my blues guitar solos.
So what were the important differences between the licks and solos in this course and my own?
Too many Notes
The first difference that struck me is the difference in the number of notes used. In my own licks I'd use nearly all the notes of the pentatonic scale. The licks in the videos tend to use fewer notes.
Since working with the course I've spent time training myself to make up and play licks using only two, three or four notes. The notes are repeated during the lick and give it a tighter, more focused feeling.
Lack Of Structure
The second major problem I discovered with my solos was a lack of structure. I'd play a series of notes that wandered along but didn't have a real aim. I'd easily get lost and not know exactly where in the 12 bar blues I was at a given moment.
The solos in the BLSD course don't suffer from this problem. They are built of three parts of four bars each to fit the 12 bars of the blues progression. Each part has its place and purpose and gives the whole solo a structure that makes it sound as if its going somewhere instead of just randomly wandering as the music plays.
Lack Of Space
With a lack of structure there was never a good place to stop and pause in my solos. Structure and space go together to build a better solo.
When your solo has structure there are natural places to pause and give the solo more rhythm, just like full-stops or new paragraphs in writing or speech.
Notes Too Often The Same Length
While I was busy trying to fit in every pentatonic scale note and fretboard position I’d get into a pattern of playing all eighth notes. This doesn’t give the solo much rhythmic variation.
When you use fewer notes and give your solo some structure it becomes easier to think about its rhythm. You can vary your note lengths and give the solo a more dynamic feeling.
Not Enough Vibrato
In the Blues Licks and Solos videos I noticed that Jody Worrell uses a lot of vibrato. Just about any time he rests on a note that note gets vibrato. I'm working on getting into this habit myself.
Putting Things Right
I've noticed all of these mistakes in my own blues guitar soloing while working on the example solos in the Blues Licks and Solos DVD. They have made my solos sound poor and they can make yours sound poor too. Now that I know what they are, I'm focused on putting them right.
What about you? What blues guitar soloing mistakes have you noticed in your playing? Use the comments link below to let us know.
Photo by Guitar.