Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers questions from off of his Guitar Blog website...
Q). I've been working at developing my improvisation skills. One problem I'm having is being able to solo in Major Keys. When I solo in Minor, I can use the Minor Pentatonic, or the Blues scale to play leads. But, when I try and improvise in Major, I feel completely lost with it. I'm starting to feel really depressed over this. Do you have any Major Scale soloing tips you can share? Parker - Nanaimo, BC. Canada
A). The problem you're experiencing is an extremely common one... I've certainly had many of the students who've been studying improvisation with me go through troubles with the Major Keys when they're first learning to solo. Part of this might have to do with the fact that almost all of the Rock music we're initially exposed to (in our early days of learning how to play guitar), just so happens to be in Minor Keys. This means, when we begin trying to play lead, (in Major), we wind up having issues. Likely due to our predominant exposure to Major Key's. In this lesson, I run down a number of helpful ideas you can apply right away to get your Major Key Improvising up to much better level.
One of my old teachers from G.I.T. (Joe Elliot), introduced me to a concept called, "Chord sandwiches." This involves using the geometrical shape of a common chord as a template for creating melody. Another strategy I discuss is the use of, "Relative Keys." Since every major key has a Relative Minor, (which shares all of the same scale tones), we can use the Relative Scale to create melodies as we develop more skills with the Major Scale Patterns. These are both easy & fun ways to push your major key soloing up to an entirely new level of playing.