Soloing With Minimal Theory Knowledge

author: Klayy date: 03/09/2005 category: soloing
rating: 7.4 / votes: 68 
First off all, this lesson applies to songs in major, minor and blues keys. I do not guarantee it will work in other keys (I'm not that kind of a theory guru, I just play my guitar), this is for basic beginner improvising. It will not make you play like a god, it just shows you the path to improve your techniques by improvising. I don't think it will be of any help to experienced players, but you can give it a try (but don't blame me if you've wasted your time). When I was a beginner, it helped me a lot. Before we start, you need to know how to find which key the song is in (mostly it is the first chord of the song, but don't take it for granted - here is a good lesson about it http: //www. ultimate-guitar. com/less... ey_and_why. html the credit goes to SilentDeftone) and you need to know the notes on the e string: 0=E=Fb, 1=F=E#, 2=F#=Gb, 3=G, 4=G#=Ab, 5=A, 6=A#=Bb, 7=B=Cb, 8=C=B#, 9=C#=Db, 10=D, 11=D#=Eb, 12=E, 13=F=E#... The same all over again. So here's the point, for example (I with my mate do it this way) you say four letters) A, E, C, F (the jam is in the key of A (it does not matter if it is minor or major - you can just use the power chords if you are confused)). These basically stand for A5, E5, C5, F5 to make it an easy one. Play them over and over again in a certain rhythm (one of you does this the rhythm guitar), it doesn't really matter what the rhythm is. Now there are what I call 5 solo figures. The diagrams shown are as if you put your guitar on the table with the neck pointing to the left and the o's are where you can move on the fretboard for a certain figure(if you are confused, don't worry, you'll see). The numbers above are the fret numbers. Also there are r's>the root notes, which I will explain later. First I will write the figures separately and then all together. These are figures for a solo in the key of A. The r's printed in bold are the note A. Thanks to the knowledge of the notes on e string. The key is A, so all you need to do is find the note A on the e string. It is the 5th fret, so on it you can "build" the 1st figure and the other figures can be built on the 1st figure. I wrote on which fret the figure begins on the e string, but don't take me wrong, the figures don't have a beginning(except for the root, where it sounds better to begin, although you don't have to, it depends on your personal taste I'll explain roots later) nor an end, it is just a point of reference I will use later.
1st figure:
.. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910111213141516171819
e|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
h|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
g|-|r|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| 
d|-|o|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
a|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
e|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
Begins on 5th fret

2nd
.. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910111213141516171819
e|-|-|-|-|r|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
h|-|-|-|-|o|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| 
g|-|-|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| 
d|-|-|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
a|-|-|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
e|-|-|-|-|r|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
Begins on 8th fret

3rd
.. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910111213141516171819
e|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
h|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
g|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
d|-|-|-|-|-|-|r|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| 
a|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
e|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
Begins on 10th fret

4th
.. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910111213141516171819
e|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
h|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|r|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|
g|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| 
d|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
a|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
e|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
Begins on 12th fret

5th
.. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910111213141516171819
e|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|
h|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|
g|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|-|-|-| 
d|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|-|-|-|
a|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|r|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|
e|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|o|-|-|o|-|-|-|-|
Begins on 15th fret
Study them a bit before reading on. Try playing each of them. Now the whole fretboard (each figure is twice on the fretboard, because it is in two octaves. I wrote each one just once with the exeption of the 1st figure the frets marked x are the 1st figure in the upper octave, so you can see that it follows all over again).
.. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910111213141516171819
e|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|ox|-|x|-|-|
h|-|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|ox|-|x|-|-|
g|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|rx|-|-|x|-|-|
d|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|ox|-|-|x|-|-|
a|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|ox|-|x|-|-|
e|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|ox|-|x|-|-|
Now you see why I separated it into figures-it is much easier to learn it that way. You see how the figures 'fit in' each other? It means that if you learn the 1st and 3rd figure alone, you basically know the 2nd, because it lays between them. Of course the same applies to the 3rd and 5th. Between them is the 4th... I recommend using that when you are learning it, it makes it less confusing. How to begin? Remember the r's? The root notes? Well those are all the A notes on the fretboard. From any of these points you can start your solo. And you can end it there. And of course you can play those notes during the solo. You can hit any of the " o's " on the fretboard and it will sound OK. It takes time and practice to be good at this, but this lesson is to show you the path to improve yourself. Now you know how to solo in A. But what about other keys? Now when you understand those figures, I can make a general diagram: ... 1st... 2nd. 3rd. 4th... 5th. 1st... 2nd. 3rd. 4th... 5th
|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|
|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|
|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|
|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|
|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|
|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|
This is it in two octaves. The 1st, 2nd etc above it is the number of the figure above the fret where it begins (see? I used it). So for example if you want to solo in the key of F#: F# is the 2nd fret of the e string. The fretboard with marked solo notes is going to look like this: ... 1st... 2nd. 3rd. 4th... 5th. 1st... 2nd. 3rd. 4th... 5th
... 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9101112131415161718192021222324
|-| o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|
|-| o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|
|r| -|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|
|o| -|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|
|-| o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|
|-| o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|
^ What is this? Well, you can see that I also included the 0, or the open string, but that is what would be on the theoretically -1st fret (minus first). Why did I do this? Just to keep the whole shape of the first figure. If you are confused, just ignore it. Just to be sure, I'll include the E. (my favorite, by the way ) ... 1st... 2nd. 3rd. 4th... 5th. 1st... 2nd. 3rd. 4th... 5th
... 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910111213141516171819202122
|-|o|- |r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|
|-|o|- |o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|
|r|-|- |o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|
|o|-|- |o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|
|-|o|- |o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|
|-|o|- |r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|-|r|-|-|o|-|o|-|o|-|-|o|
Remember that you can start the solo either on the low or the high e and also you can try altering the octaves(there are two bold r's on one string for a reason, if you didn't notice). And there are also other, additional notes, but those are just to spice up and you will surely find them as you will be building up your style. I'll add them in part two of this lesson, is this is successful (which I don't think it will, anyway). Oh, and be sure to put some time in it, it took me weeks before I started jamming along songs no problem, but on the other hand, what I wrote here is all I knew and then it only took practice. Well, that's that, and be sure to read all of it and post a comment. Any questions - PM me. I will reply, but sometimes it takes some time.
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