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Scales As A Blueprint For Solos

    Part 1

    Scales give us a blueprint of what notes will work and what notes will not work when it comes time to play a solo.

    The first thing you must ask yourself when preparing to solo is “What key is the song in?”.

    Once the key signature of the song is determined you can easily find the right scale to play.

    I’ve created a song in the key of A minor. Its chord progression is Am, Dm, Am, Dm, F, C, Dm, F, C, Dm, Em, Am.

    Take a listen:

    Since the song is in A minor I can use the A pentatonic minor scale to solo over it. Below in tab is the A pentatonic minor scale in it’s most popular pattern (the E minor scale pattern with it’s root on the 5th fret):

    I can take notes from this scale to create a solo or melody.

    Try playing up and down the A minor pentatonic scale while playing the song’s audio sample above. See how all the notes seem to fit?

    Now if we just played up and down the scale, things would get dull quickly, so I’ve created my own licks to solo with the song using the notes from the A minor pentatonic scale pattern above.

    Part 2

    Here are the licks I created from the A minor pentatonic scale to go with the example song from part 1. You can hear how they sound with the music at the bottom of the page. You’ll notice that every note I play comes
    from A pentatonic scale pattern seen in part 1. I’ve only added hammer-ons and vibrato to some of the notes.

    I repeat the lick below one time. It’s played over the Am, Dm, Am, Dm part.


    Here is the change.


    Change repeat:

    Now let’s hear it with the music:

    Have fun playing along with the song, but take the time to try and come up with your own lead part using the same scale pattern.

    Another fun thing you can do is double the lead part an octave higher. It’s easy.

    Take a look at Part 3 and I’ll show you.

    Part 3

    We can take the same A minor pentatonic scale pattern and play it an octave higher (higher pitch) by going up the fretboard 12 frets:

    Therefore we can easily add a second lead part doubling the licks an octave higher:

    See for yourself! Here’s the tab for the part an octave higher. I haven’t included the audio examples, because it’s the exact same thing as before only at a higher pitch: