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  • 30 Days to Better Guitar Playing

  • 30 Days to Better Guitar Playing

  • otis rush guitar

    Easy Blues on Guitar - 4 Note Solos

    by Simon James

    In this lesson we are going to look at how to play a really easy Blues on guitar simply using 4 notes around a chord accompaniment. Often playing simple and concise phrases can be a lot more pleasing to the listener and can allow for you to work on your phrasing, vibrato and tone. The 4 Note Solo is a really effective blues guitar instruction concept.

    The four notes that we are going to use are going to be taken from an A Major Pentatonic scale played in the C CAGED shape of A, but as we are only using 4 notes you will recognize that these notes overlap with other scales in this box on the fretboard. It is precisely for this reason that the 4 Note Blues is so effective when soloing over a I, IV, V progression.

    In the exercises below I have noted each chord for a I,IV,V in A. In the second bar of each example I have written the four notes that we are going to use. Then in the third and fourth bars I have written out a lick using the four notes. At the start of the lick it is necessary to play the chord on the first beat that you are going to solo over so that you are able to hear how the phrasing of the four note licks sounds in relation to the chord below.

    Learn Guitar Solo Lick 1: 4 Note Solo in A

    In the first example we simply move up the 4 notes of the scale as 1/8 notes before finishing the lick on the third note. By finishing the lick here you keep the phrasing precise and allow for plenty of vibrato.

    easy blueslick lick  

    Learn Guitar Solo Lick 2: 4 Note Solo in A

    More of the same in this example, however I have added a full tone bend from the B to the C and back on the 3rd beat before finishing on the 4th note. Notice how I have kept the timing of the phrase almost the same as in the previous lick to make it sound balanced and pleasing on the ear.

    easy blueslick lick  

    Learn Guitar Solo Lick 3: 4 Note Solo in D

    The final lick over the V (E9) is almost identical to lick 2 except that after the bend I have finished into on the 4th of our 4 notes. This adds a little tension and release that fits well with the movement of the chords underneath.

    easy blueslick lick  

    Learn Guitar Solo Lick 4: 4 Note Solo in A

    When playing over the IV chord (in this case D9) the lick now starts on the second of our 4 notes before moving in a pattern that works well of over the chord below. I have also added a slide at the start for added expression!

    easy blueslick lick  

    Practice playing these four licks over a recording of a 12 Bar Blues in A and experiment with which of the 4 notes that you start and finish each lick with to hear which sound best over each chord. When you are comfortable with that try making up some licks of your own. Effective Blues soloing requires lots of listening and lots of expression, so by keeping your licks simple in this way you leave space to hear new ideas and allow room for adding effects such as vibrato, slides and dynamics.

    Learn Guitar Solo and Licks for the Blues Using this 4 Note Solo Lesson Video

    Once you have the licks above down try now improvising whilst playing the I-IV-V chords at the same time. Pretty soon you will find that the licks really begin to flow!


    There are many ways to improvise the Blues on the guitar but often what I like best about Blues players is when they keep their improvisations simple. There is a time and a place for playing loud and fast, for instance, but hearing B.B. King play on The Thrill Is Gone or Otis Rush on As the Years Go By keep in mind that Blues is about feeling and expression and that by keeping it simple you can really dig deep in your solos!

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    Related Posts:

    1. Using Minor and Major 3rds in Blues Soloing

    2. 5 Essential Boxes for Blues Soloing

    3. Using Arpeggios to Master Any Chord Progression

    4. Stormy Monday: How Jazz Influenced The Blues

    5. Lick of the Week: Thrill Is Gone by B.B.King