Soloing Over Lemonade Blues
This is the first lesson in a new series on soloing over Blues chord progressions. I hope you’re as excited about it as I am. This series was created in response to numerous requests for info on how to solo on bass guitar.
Too often, when it’s our turn to solo, we either freeze up, having nothing to offer, or we drown in slap licks that have nothing to do with the song. Either approach is pretty much guaranteed to send the audience to the bar for a refill, or to the bathroom, or to Facebook… anywhere but in front of you, listening to what you actually play. Personally, I think that if we do a better job crafting interesting (to others, not ourselves) solos, we’d get far better results. Like applause.
I chose Lemonade Blues for the first lesson for two reasons. First, the version used here is a solo bass and vocals version of the song that I performed in the challenge round of the International Blues Challenge (which I won, by the way). I had to solo, because there was no one else to do it. Second, the solo is based on very basic building blocks – the major pentatonic scale, major chord arpeggios (just the chord played one note at a time) and some basic walking lines where you would expect them to be.
Take a look at the video and the sheet music (notation and tab) and you’ll see what I mean.
If you’re not familiar with the 8-bar Blues progression I use as the verse, I recommend you first practice the basic bass line. Work on it until you don’t have to think about what chord comes next. The basic pattern is a straight Downtown box shuffle, and you can hear it on this video. Being comfortable with the chord progression makes it a lot easier to learn the solo “melody.”
Obviously, this isn’t a “ChopsFest” solo. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite, because that’s what is appropriate for this song. (There were other portions of that performance that covered chops territory.) I wanted to play a simple, easy to follow melody that fit the upbeat nature of the tune. Considering it’s one of my most requested songs when I do solo shows, I’d say it was a success. 😉
Until next time, have fun, and…
Aim High – Play Low
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