Finally! How to Play The Sweet Blues Solo You've Always Dreamed Of
The first time I heard Jimi Hendrix on the radio, I was absolutely blown away.
Everyone at that time wanted to play like Jimi, but few had any idea how. Certainly no one I knew had any clue.
Nevertheless, I was determined to do everything in my power to learn how to play like that. I devoted countless hours to listening over and over again to Jimi's tunes, meticulously trying to decipher what he was doing. I had no one to show me, no one to lead me, and it was hard work.
I didn't yet have a good understanding of theory, (I went to music college later on) so everything I learned was note-for-note without any real understanding of why it worked.
Progress was slow, but eventually, passion and persistence paid off.
Looking back, I know for a fact I could have shaved years off my development as a guitar player if I'd had some proper instruction at that time.
Hi, I'm Colin Daniel, and in the last 45+ years I've helped thousands of guitar players - both in person and via the internet - achieve their dreams of playing the guitar at a level they never thought possible.
Today, guitar players still dream of playing the blues like Jimi and the other greats, and although the internet has been a total game-changer for people learning to play guitar, there's still a fundamental problem:
Most people are still stuck learning solos note by note, the way I started, without having an understanding of how it all fits together.
The problem with this approach is that it does actually work for a time, but eventually you run into problems.
Fortunately, I had an opportunity to study music in college, where I was able to start putting the pieces together. I'm not saying you have to go to college to figure out music, but for me, it was a crucial step. Most players never actually figure out exactly how those pieces work, so they're left with big holes in their understanding, questions they can't answer, and a lot of "single-use-only" tricks on the guitar.
A "single-use-only" guitar trick might be a certain riff that you know works really well in this one part of the fretboard, in one particular song, but you don't know how to move it around or apply it in a dozen other situations. Therefore, it's really only of use to you in that one particular context.
For these players, soloing becomes a tricky process of remembering which lick can work where and in what way.
It's not a fluid or intuitive process, but rather clunky and challenging, and oftentimes... frustrating.
The good news is that soloing doesn't have to be this way.
In my experience, the more we understand about guitar, we discover that chords, scales, riffs... pretty much everything on the guitar can be moved, morphed, and massaged into just about any situation you can think of.
And it's not difficult.
That's when you know you're really getting a handle on the guitar - when you can learn a riff in one situation, then apply that same group of notes in many other keys, positions, and rhythms. That's when learning a single new riff can be so powerful, and it's also when your confidence in soloing begins to skyrocket.
That's what I'd like to help you accomplish.
The Art of the Blues Solo
Jimi Hendrix once famously said that "blues is easy to play, but hard to feel."
It's one thing to learn the notes, it's another thing to feel the notes and learn to play them in a way that expresses what you're feeling right at that moment.
Ironically, the very process of creating this course on soloing stretched me greatly as a musician. I'm from the Stevie Ray Vaughan play-from-the-heart, different-every-time school of soloing, and believe it or not, to have to write out a solo and then play it the same way every time was a real challenge for me!
Most people are the other way around - they find it easier to play things the exact same way, every single time, and much harder to change things on the fly to match their mood in the moment.
That's why when I teach people how to solo, I'll teach one riff at a time, and then we start to work that thing over and over, getting a feel for how it fits over all the different parts of the progression, understanding its notes and how they relate to the chords, learning how to use it in different keys and different positions on the fretboard, and also how to modify the rhythm and feel of it so it can be used in any song we want.
If you can take that approach to learning how to solo on guitar, you're going to find that the "feeling" part of playing a solo comes more naturally.
Because you'll have a strong handle on everything that's happening in the song, musically, you'll be able to flow naturally from a position of strength rather than simply shooting in the dark, hoping to hit something.
My goal for all my students is never to produce another Colin Daniel. Goodness knows, the world is full enough with just one of me! Instead, it is to train each one to grow to their own creative potential.
You've got music inside you that the world needs to hear. I can help you learn how to release it!
Learning To Solo The Blues
Over the span of my 45+ year career of playing and teaching guitar, I've taught thousands of people how to solo. As you might imagine, I've found a few things that worked really well, and a few things that didn't.
I've also discovered that no student is the same. Each one learns a bit differently than the others, therefore, there is no "one-size-fits-all" way to learn guitar. There has to be a unique approach for each person.
I've taken the best of what I've discovered over the years, and condensed it into a course - Ultimate Blues Stage 4: Solos. (We'll talk more about the stages in a moment)
This course is designed for someone who is not a beginner on the guitar, but is beginner-level when it comes to soloing. Make sense?
Everything is designed with a nice, easy skill progression in mind, so that as you go along, you're never overwhelmed, never frustrated by big jumps in logic or knowledge requirement, and never presented with a new learning curve that is outside of your reach at that point.
Become a Truly Versatile Blues Player
If you're going to be a versatile blues player, it is really important that you're familiar with a number of different musical situations found in the blues. Simply learning one solo, or a handful of riffs will leave you ill-prepared for a jam night where anything could come up!
Perhaps the best example of this is a straight feel song versus a shuffle. Many players connect very quickly to the straight feel, but as soon as that shuffle comes on, boy oh boy, they really struggle! It has such a fundamentally different feel to it. That's why it's important to master soloing in both rhythm styles so you're not caught off guard.
In this course, we cover a number of different rhythm situations: the straight ahead boogie woogie, the laid back 6/8 slow triplet, the rock'n roll Chuck Berry style, the fast shuffle, and even a bit of swing thrown in with a sweet blues jazz song!
Aside from the rhythm issue, we'll also cover a range of keys popular in the blues, we'll work different scales and different areas of your fretboard. We'll work with songs based on strumming, as well as rhythm-riff based songs.
Through it all, you'll be learning variations of individual riffs and and how to apply them in different situations.
In short, follow the path I've prepared for you, and you WILL become a versatile blues player!
Discover Creative Improvising
I'll just come right out and say it: I LOVE improvising.
In fact, the majority of what I do in most guitar solos contains some element of improvising. But here's the catch - I almost never improvise purely out of the blue.
What do I mean by that? Improvising is really learning how to combine or modify different musical ideas you've heard or used elsewhere.
It is not necessarily writing something completely fresh, completely original. Music doesn't work like that. We draw on other musicians, mix their ideas together with our own, and out pops our "improvised" solo.
The more base-layer ideas you have to draw on, the more variety you'll find in your own playing, and the more dots you'll have to play with when it comes time to connect them creatively.
That's why in this course, I've taught seven solos in a note-for-note fashion. Each note grouping is a riff, and we're using the written solo as a vehicle for learning new riffs and how to apply them. That's exactly what you have to do when you go to improvise a solo.
But we don't stop there. Along the way, you'll be exposed to multiple variations of the riffs, and even variations of the solos themselves. In many cases, I'll demonstrate to you a "by the book" version of the solo, a slightly modified version of the solo, and then also a more heavily modified version.
I'll be helping you develop tools and techniques that will help your improvising, even while we're learning note-for-note solos. And speaking of note-for-note solos... you don't even have to worry about getting those just right either!
At the end of the day, I want you to connect with the note-groupings... the riffs. If you feel them differently than I do, that's awesome, and totally valid. The solos are templates to work from. They are not goals in and of themselves. If you can find a way to use those ideas in the correct amount of time in relation to the song, that's awesome.
If I can help you connect with a musical idea in such a way that it becomes your own, then I've accomplished my goal.
Theory: The Guitar Player's Nemesis
OR IS IT?
For many guitar players, theory is viewed as a bit of a dark horse that runs around smashing things in the background. They don't really understand it, think it is much harder than it really is, don't see the benefit of it, and in some cases, even fear it (just a little).
My friend, today I can assure you that once you've taken the time to learn a few simple principles about music, theory will in fact become your best musical friend.
For instance, basic musical theory gives us the ability to learn one riff, and immediately see how we can apply it in multiple keys. Using scale patterns, we can also apply it in multiple locations on the fretboard. That's just one small example of how we can use theory to really turbo-charge our playing.
I know that folks just want to solo, so don't worry - everything in this course revolves around the solos. That said, as we go through, you'll find I've woven bits 'n pieces of theory into our conversation. Without any sort of formal "theory lesson" you're going to notice your fretboard knowledge increasing, as well as your ability to be creative in different situations.
For those who have already taken the previous three stages of the Ultimate Blues series, you're going to love how this course really cements all the different things you've been learning, and locks them all together with solid examples.
You'll discover how to:
Classic Bread 'n Butter Blues Riffs
In Ultimate Blues 4: Solos we cover no less than 59 sweet blues riffs. However, when I counted them, I only counted the ones tabbed out without variations. Truth be told, there are quite a few variations that are tabbed out in the course, and FAR more that are covered in the video.
Include all the variations covered in the video, and we're dealing with a couple hundred awesome blues licks.
Despite that, I don't want you looking at the number.
I'd prefer you learn just a handful of awesome riffs - and how to modify them for any situation - than just have a huge number of note-for-noters.
That's why I chose classic, bread'n butter style blues riffs to include in the course. The kind of raw material that can really take you places. The kind of riffs multiple generations of great blues players have considered the core of their wheelhouse.
I'm talking about the likes of BB King, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Billy Gibbons, Joe Bonamassa, Keith Richards and more.
Every time you master another of these blues riffs you're tapping into greatness, tapping into blues musicians who have gone before you, and you're incorporating their melodies into your own.
If you can do that with each of the riffs presented in this course, you're going to be one rockin' blues player my friend!
Playing The Pockets
At the heart of the blues is the call and answer. You can trace it all the way back to singing in the cotton fields, one person "calling" and the others "answering."
It's really fun to have this musical conversation with your guitar. Sometimes you'll hear this done purely with voices, sometimes a guitar is answering a voice (or other instrument), and sometimes the entire "conversation" is happening between guitar parts!
Regardless, it's a definite skill to be able to weave your guitar part through the midst of an otherwise busy song, without stepping on the toes of the other players, or distracting from the melody of the song. The goal is to create a guitar line that beautifully compliments the rest of the song in every way.
I can't overstate the importance of learning this skill if you're going to play in a band or work with a vocalist - even if that vocalist is yourself. It develops a sense of timing that you can't get from simply playing things note for note. It's all about knowing where and WHY notes should be placed where they are.
The seventh and last solo we'll learn in Stage 4 is all about playing the pockets. Prepare to have a whole new door of musical expression opened for you!
Essential Soloing Techniques
Learning riffs is super valuable, but there are a number of soloing techniques that will add tremendous creative expression to your solos.
Techniques are different from riffs because they don't rely on specific notes, they're a way of approaching notes.
Take rake-picking for instance. It doesn't matter which notes you want to rake-pick, the technique you need to work on involves both hands and a fine level of control. Develop that technique, and you can apply it to all kinds of riffs.
We'll also look at standard techniques like hammer ons, slides, slurs, stretches, pull offs, and vibrato.
BB King was famous for his vibrato. He developed it so far because he valued vibrato as one of the best ways to make his guitar sound expressive like a human voice. BB viewed the human voice as the gold standard, and often spoke of trying to make his guitar solos emulate a good vocalist.
The better you can develop each of these techniques in your own playing, the more expressive your solos will become.
You'll bump into those techniques continually throughout the course. The first time you meet one, we'll discuss it in a fair bit of detail. The next time you come across it, we'll usually be taking what you learned previously, and going a step farther with it.
Six Awesome Blues Songs
The heart and soul of this Ultimate Blues series is carried by six awesome blues tunes. I created a custom jam track for each one, inspired by popular songs. Each song was chosen specifically for certain characteristics, to give us an opportunity to learn how to play the blues in a different rhythm or feel or context.
If you've taken my Ultimate Blues Stage 3: Rhythms course, you'll already be intimately familiar with these songs.
We'll talk more about the Ultimate Blues series below, but read on to discover the songs that inspired the jam tracks you'll be working with.
I Hear You Knockin'
I Hear You Knockin’ is a rockabilly classic written by Dave Edmunds. That tune was the inspiration for our Knockin’ jam track, which is also the first solo in the course. It’s the perfect progression to learn how to move your riffs around along with the chord changes, Chuck Berry style. It’s in E pentatonic minor, which is a really friendly starter key, and it’s got a great groove. We’ll use this track to establish some foundational riffs and techniques at a lower level, then we’ll build on those more later on in the course.
Of all the songs I’ve used over my teaching career to help people learn how to solo, this song has been one of the most effective. The changes don’t come too quickly – in fact the quickest is after two full bars – and that gives you time to think and prepare for the next riff, which is just perfect when you’re starting out. Even if you’re not super fast or super skilled, you can still play a really cool solo over this tune, and that’s exactly what we’re going to learn how to do.
Here's the solo you'll learn:
Texas Flood, originally recorded by Larry Davis but famously covered by Stevie Ray Vaughan, among others, is a dyed-in-the-wool traditional blues progression, and you simply can’t have a serious talk about the blues without covering the classic 12 bar blues format. Texas Flood inspired our jam track Flood, and it has a wonderfully slow, triplet feel to it that just begs for a rippin’ blues solo!
If you’re going to learn to solo over the blues, then you simply must master the 6/8 triplet feel. At first, it throws a lot of people for a loop, because it’s so different than straight feel, but once you get the feel for it, it’s tons of fun. Because Flood has such a slow tempo, it’s a really good environment for learning to solo in triplet. It’s also loaded with dominant 7th chords and 9ths, so that “blues” sound comes through with every strum and provides incredible blues inspiration for your solo.
These chords do require a particular approach to soloing though, and we’ll talk about that. I’ve used this song for decades as a starting point for soloing, and people of all ages have consistently and successfully connected with it – even if you’ve never heard it before, you’re gonna love it!
Here's a sample of a Flood solo:
The Thrill Is Gone
BB King’s Thrill is Gone is an incredible tune that hit the tops of the charts simultaneously in no less than three different genres! (Blues, Rock, and Rhythm & Blues). The song is based on a classic jazz blues progression that goes way back. It’s one of the few famous blues progressions that is pure diatonic, and doesn’t use any of the “fence sitter” chords that are usually so common in the blues. This opens up fresh opportunities for our solos, and we’re going to expand your scale knowledge a bit more, work some fresh scale positions, and also start introducing some elements of jazz into how our riffs are built.
Thrill has a bit of a laid-back swing feel to it, because of how the rhythm and chords work together, and you’ll discover it’s a great, inspiring platform to solo over.
Checkout the solo:
Pride 'n Joy
Our track Texas Joy was inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan’s classic Pride ‘n Joy – a true Texas shuffle supreme! The fast Texas shuffle chug rhythm will challenge your soloing differently than other songs will, and I think you’ll find, it inspires you differently than other songs do too!
Texas Joy is a traditional 12 bar progression, and in some ways, it’s kind of like a bumped up, next level version of soloing over Flood. Once triplet feel gets fast enough, it morphs into shuffle feel, however in your guitar solos you’ll still be using triplet groupings.
Here's a sample of what you'll learn:
Blue Jean Blues
What an amazing chord progression! Blue Jean Blues, by ZZ Top, inspired our jam track My Blue Jeans, and you’re going to really dig soloing over it. It’s a ten-bar phrase based off the traditional 12 bar, and it’s really valuable to learn how to solo over progressions that are different lengths than 12 bars – the last thing you want to do is get stuck in a 12 bar rut and be totally thrown off when you encounter a different length progression! Just because many blues songs are based on some kind of 12 bar doesn’t mean they all are.
This is another diatonic progression in the key of A minor, and it’s loads of fun to solo over. A minor is one of those “must-know” keys on the guitar – there are just so many great songs and solos in this key, that the more experience you have with it all over your fretboard, the better.
Here's a taste of where you'll be going:
Let Me Love You Baby
Our last jam track, Love U. was inspired by Buddy Guy’s Let Me Love You Baby, and it introduces a totally different flavor than any of the other tracks in the course. It’s an awesome rhythm-riff based progression (which means that the rhythm section is rhythm-establishing riffs instead of strummed chords), it’s fast, and it rocks. You’ll hear influences of Chicago blues and Buddy Guy all over this track, and you’re going to really learn how to follow the chords here too! It’s a fast triplet feel – in fact, it’s just about as fast as you can go and still be in triplet feel. Most students have difficulties with shuffle and triplet feels, so I’ve spent extra time on those in this course to give you as much exposure to them from different angles.
Because Love U. is a rhythm-riff song, and because it’s pretty busy, it provides a great opportunity to try something new – soloing in the pockets! Typically when people talk about soloing in the pockets, they’re working around a singer. However, you can practice the exact same techniques with a rhythm riff.
This is going to stretch you musically as you learn to work around a busy progression and weave your solo parts into the song, making it fit so it’s all one nice stream of music. It’s such a valuable skill to learn to work WITH other guitar players and musicians, not over them, or against them. There are ways to work your riffs in with other people’s riffs, and never once walk over them.
We actually have two solos for this tune – one normal solo, and one that is based on playing the pockets.
Here's a sample of what you'll learn:
The Four Stages of Ultimate Blues
I mentioned previously that this course was the fourth in a series I've called the Ultimate Blues series. Let's talk about each stage, and where this course fits into the mix.
Chords are the musical foundation, the starting point, of everything else that happens in the blues (or any kind of music). Understanding how to play them, how they're related to each other, how they join together to form keys and how you can adapt them for the blues lays the foundation for going further, with rhythms and progressions.
Scales are also super important, because your scale IS your solo... Scales provide the secret to understanding your fretboard in a single, comprehensive way, and they're also the ticket to learning how to move around fluidly wherever you want to on the guitar neck.
Rhythm is one of the most important pillars of music (the other two are harmony and melody). Without it, you can play all the right notes, and it will sound completely wrong. With it, you can play just a few simple notes, and it will sound SO GOOD. Rhythm can completely change the feel of a song, and I always, always, always start off my students who want to solo by learning to play good rhythm. It pays off HUGE dividends! Once the rhythm for a song is flowing in your system, learning to solo over that same song will be a far more natural experience.
The Solo! In some ways, the solo is the pinnacle of guitar playing, and certainly, it is the ultimate goal of many a guitar player. Pulling off a good solo is such a rewarding experience, and yet, can also seem so far out of reach for beginning players. So many lower skillsets have to be working together to consistently play good solos, and that is precisely why we've laid those foundations stage by stage, layer by layer, in this Ultimate Blues series.
Today we're talking about Stage 4: Solos, and although I highly recommend guitar players go through each of the previous stages first, I know that for various reasons, not everyone will. Therefore, I've done my best to make Stage 4 stand on it's own, too. Even if you're just starting out with Stage 4, you ought to be able to see great results in your playing.
How Do You Learn Best?
As I mentioned earlier, not everyone learns the same way. Some people are very visual learners, relating best to what they see my fingers do. Others are audio based, and the verbal instruction really helps them. Still others relate best to written content.
I'm not here to tell you any one modality is better than another, in fact, I've gone to great effort to ensure that they're all fully represented in this course. That's why the book plays such a major role. It is NOT just a collection of tabs, like nearly every other "course supplement" book I've ever seen!
If it was all you had, this book could stand alone, and you could STILL learn to solo by the content it contains. In addition to all the tabs you could ever want, you'll also find scale diagrams, as well as explanations and discussions of all the riffs and soloing techniques addressed in the course. It's 116 pages, and it REALLY complements the video lesson well.
Apart from the book, the entire course was shot using four different camera angles, so that no matter what is being played, anywhere on the fretboard, we have a "best" angle to present to you. Whether it's close ups of the picking technique, or close ups of a particular riff, you don't have to worry about missing a thing.
Is This Course At My Level?
This is NOT a straight-up beginner course. If you're just starting to play the guitar, then you'd be much better off starting with my Electric Blues for Beginners course instead, then go to Ultimate Blues Chords (Stage 1), and work through the stages until you find your way back here again.
However, with that said, this course is designed for players to jump in at a low-intermediate level. Certainly, it is intended for players who are beginner-level at soloing. Realize that other things should be in place before you move straight to soloing though - you need to be familiar with your basic open chords, and ideally have some bar chords down pat too. You need to have a decent handle on rhythm, because without solid rhythm your solos will be all over the place. Other than that, the most important qualification is to come with patience, and an open mind that is ready to learn.
If you apply yourself, you WILL learn from this course, and your playing will progress greatly.
BONUS: Advanced Fretboard Integration
Ultimate Blues Solos is all about soloing. It's practical, completely focused on learning the riffs and the solo lines. Mixed in between, we learn the scale patterns necessary to play the written solos. If you took Ultimate Blues Scales (Stage 2) you'll have a far deeper understanding of how the various patterns work.
But while reflecting on the course, and in fact, upon the entire Ultimate Blues series, I realized I could add a truly valuable bonus that would really help tie everything together on your fretboard.
So, as a special bonus to Ultimate Blues Solos, you will get an additional 52 minute lesson, in two parts, covering both pentatonic and diatonic fretboard integration. Oh, and it also comes with a 15 page tab booklet.
This is NOT the kind of stuff you're likely to have come across anywhere else.
The first time I offered a lesson like this online, the comments section exploded. Many thought it was the most valuable lesson they'd ever seen from me.
The fact is, few people have boiled scale patterns down to this level, where it suddenly becomes simple, reduced to just one or two patterns you probably already know.
And yet, I will hand you the keys to unlock your entire fretboard, using those simple patterns, in these special bonus lessons.
Yes! I'm Ready To Take My Blues Solos To A Whole New Level!
Ultimate Blues Stage 4: Solos is laser-focused on developing your ability to play blues guitar solos. You'll learn dozens of classic blues riffs, complete solos, and even how to improvise your own. Ready to get started?
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Are you ready to become a Riff Ninja like me, and take your blues guitar playing to levels that you never before dreamed possible? Let's do it together!
Keep on Rockin’
a.k.a. the Riff Ninja
PS: The Ultimate Blues Guitar Course: Stage 4 - Solos will give you an excellent foundation in the scales, riffs, techniques and rhythms you need in order to be able to solo in the blues. You will learn seven complete solos, as well as how to improvise. It is ideal for intermediate-level players who want to learn how to solo.
PS. If for any reason you’re not satisfied, you’re protected by my 100% Risk-Free Satisfaction Guarantee for a full 60 days.
PS. Both the DVD and the Download Only version include the same lesson material: the main video lesson, as well as the bonus book. The DVD version includes download access, with the additional convenience of having everything on DVD as well.