Backing Tracks - Intro

This page has backing tracks for you to practice along with. Some are free downloads; basic tracks for you to practice a particular scale to etc. Most are formatted as songs, with verse, bridge and chorus sections. You can listen and play along with all of them here, for free.

Thank you in advance if you choose to pay to download any ~ I sincerely appreciate all help in enabling me to continue to provide quality guitar tuition for free on this site.

Some have detailed tutorials: chords used in the backing, scales and licks etc. I've also grouped tracks into categories, to help you find something suitable to jam over: Rock, Jazzy & World, Blues, Indie and Funky backing tracks to practice and noodle with...
 

Backing tracks with tutorials

Tutorial


Big Max Blues
(opens in a new window)



Funky Phrygid
(opens in a new window)



Stompin' Dark
(opens in a new window)



Eight Bar Blues
(opens in a new window)



Ninth Blues
(opens in a new window)



Dora & Ian
(opens in a new window)

Jazzy & World

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  1. 1 Big Max Blues 02:56 Info Your price

    Big Max Blues

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  2. 2 Petes Groove 04:21 Info Your price

    Petes Groove

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  3. 3 Jazzy Shuffle 02:54 Info Your price

    Jazzy Shuffle

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  4. 4 Any Scale Will Do 06:12 Info Your price

    Any Scale Will Do

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  5. 5 A7 vamp 01:48 Info
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  6. 6 Stormy Monday 04:55 Info Your price

    Stormy Monday

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  7. 7 Cm7 - G7 groove 04:20 Info
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  8. 8 Hard Times 05:07 Info Your price

    Hard Times

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Blues

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  1. 1 Ninth Blues 03:35 Info Your price

    Ninth Blues

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  2. 2 Little Wing 03:52 Info Your price

    Little Wing

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  3. 3 Hard Times 05:07 Info Your price

    Hard Times

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  4. 4 Eight-bar Blues 05:25 Info Your price

    Eight-bar Blues

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  5. 5 Baby Please groove 05:05 Info
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  6. 6 Big Max Blues 02:56 Info Your price

    Big Max Blues

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  7. 7 Dominant Blues in A (free download) 03:29 Info
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  8. 8 A7 vamp 01:48 Info
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Indie

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  1. 1 Steal me, wake me, shake me 04:00 Info Your price

    Steal me, wake me, shake me

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  2. 2 A Dorian Mode 03:36 Info
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  3. 3 Majinor Jock 03:39 Info Your price

    Majinor Jock

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  4. 4 75bpm drum groove 03:31 Info
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Rock

Funky

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  1. 1 Mixotrog 04:45 Info Your price

    Mixotrog

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  2. 2 Rock Anthem (Am) 05:49 Info Your price

    Rock Anthem (Am)

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  3. 3 Stompin Dark 04:27 Info Your price

    Stompin Dark

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  4. 4 Phrygian Flat Five 03:55 Info Your price

    Phrygian Flat Five

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  5. 5 Little Wing 03:52 Info Your price

    Little Wing

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  6. 6 Dora and Ian 05:56 Info Your price

    Dora and Ian

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  7. 7 75bpm drum groove 03:31 Info
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  1. 1 Steal me, wake me, shake me 04:00 Info Your price

    Steal me, wake me, shake me

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  2. 2 Funky and Phrygid 05:06 Info Your price

    Funky and Phrygid

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  3. 3 Harmonic minor practice (E) 03:14 Info
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  4. 4 Funky Diminished 01:57 Info
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  5. 5 Cm7 - G7 groove 04:20 Info
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  6. 6 75bpm drum groove 03:31 Info
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Track info

Dora & Ian 

Key:
A minor and E minor (A Dorian and E Aolian modes)

This piece is primarily A Dorian mode, however it also moves into E Aolian (E natural minor) and arguably G Ionian (G major).

My intention is to give you a better appreciation of how several modes relate to each other.

To enable you to confidently jam / solo over this piece, I encourage you to familiarise yourself with the rhythm guitar part.


Rhythm
I simply finger-pick a single, Am chord for the intro. It is played from the 5th fret (start fret marked with an asterix):



The grey circle marks the root-note and I play the 1st & 2nd strings open.
Once the drums and bass kick-in, we’re straight into the first, four-bar progression:



| Am / C / | G / Bm / |

| Am / C / | G / D / |


Most are played as standard, open chords except the D. This is played with the F#, which is normally on the top string (thinnest), fingered on the thickest, bottom-string:

This piece is repeated a twice. The next progression is as follows:


| C / D4 / | Em / / / |
| C / D4 / | Em / / / |

| C / D / | G D Em / |
| C / D / | Em / / / |



The C is played as a standard, open chord. The D4 is exactly the same shape, simply slid-up the neck by two bars:

The C is played as a standard, open chord. The D4 is exactly the same shape, simply slid-up the neck by two bars.

I simply ripple-pick these; picking the strings in the following order:

5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, 4th

The Em in the 2nd and 4th bars is played by sliding up another two bars, and changing the fingering slightly so that I am only actually fretting two strings, using the same picking:


 This is played from the 7th fret, so the root-note is on the 5th and 1st strings. The minor-third is on the 4th and 3rd strings, and the 5th is on the 2nd.




The 6th bar has a nice, common run of chords which uses the same D as in the previous section. This gives a running bass-line down the 6th string (3rd to 2nd to open frets), coming to rest on a standard, open Em chord:



The final bar of Em is played using a standard A-type barre chord, but with the 1st string left open – since it is an E:

---0---
---8---
---9---
---9---
---7---
---X---


I then repeat from the beginning, prior to moving into what I consider to be a middle-eight, although it’s repeated later in the piece. Middle-eights usually only occur once in a composition – although they are often not eight bars long….just to confuse!

This one is eight bars, and comprised of the same two bars repeated four times:

| Am / / / | Bm7add4 / / / |

The Am is a standard, open chord. The Bm7add4 is simply exactly the same shape but slid-up the neck by two frets:

---0---
---4---
---5---
---5---
---0---
---x---


If you play a B major scale, you’ll find that the flattened 7th is an A and the 4th is an E. So the two open strings make it a minor7 and add a 4th. For a deeper understanding of how chords are formed  check out my 'Chords' tutorials.

This is a perfect example of how seemingly complex chords need not require complex chord-shapes / fingering.

I then introduce a distorted guitar section. This begins by simply continuing the Am to Bm theme, but simply uses standard bar chords:

It begins with one bar of each, for four bars:

| Am / / / | Bm / / / |

I then halve the amount of time on each chord, and move into a two bar pattern, which I repeat once:

| Am / Bm / | Am / C D | Am / Bm / | Am / C D |

And the final piece halves the time on each chord once again, with this pattern played four times:

| G Bm Am C | Bm D Em / |



Jamming & Soloing

This tune can be seen as moving between several modes. All relate to G major, so the notes of G major will work throughout:

G  A  B  C  D  E  F#  G

It begins in A dorian mode. Here are the notes of A dorian:

A  B  C  D  E  F#  G  A

Here is the box position for dorian mode with the root on the 6th string (roots shown in grey):
Play with notes from this position at the 5th fret for the key of Am.

Notice how the dorian mode is only one note different from the aolian, or natural minor scale.

When it moves into the second section, the E natural minor or aolian mode fits better. Here are the notes:

E  F#  G  A  B  C  D  E

Here is the chord diagram to remind you of the section I’m referring to:

| C / D4 / | Em / / / | C / D4 / | Em / / / |

| C / D / | G D Em / | C / D / | Em / / / |


And here is the aolian mode box, root on 6th string:

Play around this in the open position (although you’ll need to move one of the notes from the third string up to the 4th fret on the 4th string) ~ or at the 12th fret.

During this final section:

| G Bm Am C | Bm D Em / |

Play around the Ionian mode (major scale):

G  A  B  C  D  E  F#  G

Here is the Ionian mode / major scale box, root on 6th string:









 

Ninth Blues 

Rhythm
There is only one chord-shape used in this piece – and what a wonderful thing it is!

It has a great sound for upbeat, major Blues, and opens-up many opportunities for soloing; particularly when ‘following the changes’. Most folks find this difficult to finger at first – but it is worth persevering :)

It is a ninth chord, and here is the tab for it in G:     

--10--
--10--
--10--
---9---
--10--
---X---


Use your ring-finger to fret the top three strings, your index finger for the fourth string and your 2nd finger for the fifth. The root note is on the fifth string, so play it at the 3rd fret for C, and the 5th for D.

This piece is a basic 12 bar Blues in G. Here is the chord chart:

| G9 / / / | G9 / / / | G9 / / / | G9 / / / |

| C9 / / / | C9 / / / | G9 / / / | G9 / / / |

| D9 / / / | C9 / / / | G9 / / / | G9 / / / |


The intro consists of the last four bars.

For most of the time I’m playing the chord by sliding-up from the fret before – so for G:     

---9 / 10---
---9 / 10---
---9 / 10---
---8 /  9----
---9 / 10---
---X   X----    


Note: The / symbol instructs you to slide up to the indicated fret. Sometimes we use the letter 's' to indicate a slide.

The slide ends on the first beat of the bar, and then I play a stab on the 2& beat. So, breaking it down, the strumming pattern looks like this:

I’ve put the strumming pattern below the tab. The arrows represent the direction your strumming arm is moving. If you’re learning to strum – always move your arm, as indicated, whether or not you are striking the strings. The long arrows indicate that you strum the strings. During the short arrows you miss the strings, but still move your arm. 

This is fundamental to mastering the art of strumming and to keep your timing. The strumming arm is like the drummer in a band – it keeps time – and when you are learning to strum or are mastering a strumming pattern that you find challenging you should always be moving your arm like a pendulum.

Notice that I don’t strum the strings on the first beat of the bar – I’m letting them continue to ring-out from when I strummed them on the 4& beat. This requires some amount of strength to keep the strings ringing-out whilst I slide the chord up a fret.

If you find this too hard, I suggest you forget the slide to begin with, simply strumming the strings down on the first beat of the bar.

Note that I’m only strumming the strings twice in each bar, and that both are up-beats; a bit like if I were playing a reggae pattern, where most strumming is on the up-beat.

This strumming pattern is using 1/8 beats: 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & = 8 beats to the bar.


Soloing, jamming & improvising
I strongly encourage you to learn the rhythm parts, so that you’re intimate with them.

Even if you don’t master the sliding of the ninth chord, in fact even if you can’t play a ninth chord - be sure to know which chord is playing at any particular time. If you do this, then you can follow the (chord) changes when improvising – which will enable you to explore this song in detail and will sound much more like you know what you’re doing!

This is one of those tunes that a Minor Pentatonic scale will work well over, even though it is in a major key. 

The fact that a Minor Pentatonic scale can be used over many pieces that are in a major key can confuse some players into thinking that a song is in a minor key when it is not.

Here is the box for a Minor Pentatonic scale, root on the 6th string. Play it at the 3rd fret for the key of G:

Here is the same scale with the root on the 5th string. Play it from the 10th fret for the key of G:

Soloing and improvising using this scale is good fun, and for many players it represents the only scale that they ever use. Many great Blues players have been ‘milking-it’ for decades!

The ‘Blues-note’ or flattened-fifth will also work excellently. The following box is the Minor Pentatonic with the Blues-note added ~ what folks refer to as the blues scale:


Again, play with this from the 3rd fret for the key of G.

More experienced players will probably identify the Mixolydian mode as being the preferred scale to play over this piece – as it is a major scale. Here is the box for the Mixolydian scale, root on the 6th string; so play it from the 3rd fret for the key of G:


With all these boxes, the root notes are indicated by a different colour (grey / silver). 

Following the changes
I mentioned this earlier; so lets explore it now.
 
When we say, “Following the changes” we mean playing licks and notes that correspond to the chord that is being played at any given time.
 
If this is new to you, then lets start simply. The chords used in this piece are G9, C9 and D9. Decide which position you’re going to play in, for instance the Blues scale at the third fret. Then identify where the G, C & D notes are within that position.
 
NB: As an aside, you may be interested in my tutorial series: The Minir Pentatonic & Blues Scales ~ Everywhere!'
 
To follow the changes in the most basic sense, finish each lick on the root-note of the chord being played. So over the G9, finish a lick on a G note. Over the C9, end a lick on a C note; and over the D9 finish on a D. Practice this now.
 
You just followed the changes :)
 
Now lets explore this in a bit more detail. Finger the G9 chord at the 10th fret and memorise where the notes are in relation to the Minor Pentatonic scale at the 10th fret.
 
You’ll notice that one of the notes in the chord, on the fourth string, is not within the Minor Pentatonic scale. It is a B, and is the Major third in a G major chord / scale.
 
Try finishing a lick on this note over the G9 chord. Notice how this can sound a bit more Jazzy, and complements the chord well. Try taking the notes of the chord and playing a lick using only those notes. For instance:
 
-------------------------
-------------------------
----------- 10 ---------
------ 9 -------- 9 ----
10 ---------------------
-------------------------

 
Or maybe add the note from the second string at the end of the lick:
 
-------------------------------------
------------------------ 10 --------
----------- 10 ---------------------
------ 9 -------- 9 ----------------
10 --------------------------------
-------------------------------------

 
Another variation would be to add a note from the Minor Pentatonic on the 2nd string:
 
----------------------------------
------------------------ 11 -----
----------- 10 ------------------ 
------ 9 -------- 9 ------------- 
10 ------------------------------
---------------------------------- 
 
 
Experiment around this, and find a lick that you like, using notes from the chord – in particular the Major Third (9th fret, fourth string).
 
Keep playing it over the G9 chord, experimenting with different phrasing (spending longer and shorter amounts of time on each note).
 
Once you have something mastered try playing the same pattern, but shifting the whole lot down the neck, to play over the C9 and D9. For example, using the second lick I gave you but extending it to resolve on a root note, over the G9 play:

---------------------------------------------------------
------------------ 10 ---------------------------------  
--------- 10 ---------------12 -- 12 -- 11 h 12 --
----- 9 ------ 9 --------------------------------------
10 ----------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------


 
Symbols Key:

h = hammer-on
p = pull-off
s = slide
b = bend

 
Then when the band play the C9 for two bars, use this lick:
 
-----------------------------------------------------
------------------------ 3 -------------------------
----------- 3 --------------- 5 -- 5 -- 3 h 5 ----
------ 2 -------- 2 --------------------------------
3 --------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------

 
Consider dropping the last four notes when the C9 is only played for one bar.
Finally, over the D9 try this:

-----------------------------
---------------------- 5 ----
----------- 5 ---------------
------ 4 ------- 4 ---------- 
5 --------------------------- 
-----------------------------

 
Hopefully, you are now understanding what I mean by following the changes.
 
Now, work out different licks, each based around the notes of a ninth chord. Try swapping and changing between the patterns as you follow the progression – moving your licks around the 10th, 3rd and 5th frets.
 
We’ve spent some time exploring how we might follow the changes by playing at the fret that the chord is being played by the backing band.
 
Now we’ll have a quick look at identifying some of the same notes whilst staying at the same position on the neck.
 
So taking a simple three-note lick, based on the G9 chord:

--------------------
--------------------
----------- 10 ----
------ 9 -----------
10 ----------------
--------------------


Find the exact same lick, but sticking around the 3rd – 6th frets and moving onto the fourth, third and second strings.
 
This is what you get:

----------------
---------- 6 ---
----- 4 --------
5 --------------
----------------
----------------


Checkout how this fits within the Mixolydian box that I gave you earlier:
 
 
 
So now you can start following the changes whilst staying within the 2nd – 6th frets J
 
Now I’m going to give you a few choice licks. Combined with the work we’ve done so far, I’m hoping that you’ll start to feel more comfortable with jamming over this track :)
 
Most of these licks will fit comfortably within a bar, except the first one – choose the phrasing yourself, and make them your own.
 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------11--10--------------------------------------------------
-----------10---------------12--11-------------------------------------
-------9-----------------------------------12--11--10------9----------
s 10-------------------------------------------------------------- 10 ----
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------



-----------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------
---------------------------------10----------
----9------10-------11--12----------------
10-----10-------10------------------------
-----------------------------------------------



Try playing with octaves on the 1st and 3rd strings, E.G.

---15--13--15-------
------------------------
---12--10--12-------
------------------------
------------------------
------------------------



Dampen the 2nd string. Learn your scales on one string, e.g. the 1st, and experiment with octaves all over your neck.
 
Try these three licks over the G9, C9 and D9 respectively:

-----------------10------------------10---
--12-11-12---------12-11-12---------
---------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------


 
-----------------10------------------10---
--11-10-11---------11-10-11---------
---------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------


 
---------------12---
--13-12-13-------
---------------------
---------------------
---------------------
---------------------


 
This works well over the C9, going to the G9:


-----------------------------
-----------------------------
------------s5--3h4-------
--5--3--2------------5----
-----------------------------
-----------------------------

 
 
These are around a position that B.B.King uses, almost exclusively:

-----------------------------
--------8-----(10)b11----
--7h9----------------------
-----------------------------
-----------------------------
-----------------------------


 
--(10)b12--10-------------------------
---------------------11p8-------8-8----
-----------------------------10-----------
-------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------



------------------------------------ 
-----8h10p8---8---10b13----
--9------------9------------------
------------------------------------
------------------------------------
------------------------------------


 
-----------8-9-10p11p10----------------------
--11b13--------------------11b13--11--8----
-----------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------

 
Good luck with your playing and enjoy!
 
Kind regards
Robin


 

Eight Bar Blues 

Key: A major Blues

This is played as a Blues shuffle. The guitar is simply playing intervals of a fifth / sixth, and therefore it’s not committing itself to either major or minor. However, the bass-line includes many major third notes – which define the track as being major.


Rhythm
The guitar is playing a ‘standard Blues shuffle’, very popular in the Blues world.

Here is the tab for the most basic version, shown in the ‘A’ position:

Often, I switch to alternately picking the strings:

And the more complex version I play includes going up to the 5th fret, often using a bend:


To play the E, simply shift the strings to use the open 6th and fretted 5th strings – or I often go up the neck to the 7th fret, using the 5th & 4th strings. The D is from the 5th fret (again on the 5th & 4th strings). You could use the open D string, but I find this tends to sound a bit 'thin'.
Obviously, you need to stretch when barring further up the neck and if you find this too difficult then use the open D string whilst fretting the third string at the 2nd / 4th frets.

Here is the chord chart – simply eight bars repeated:


| A / / / | E / / / | D / / / | D / / / |

| A / / / | E / / / | A turnaround | A / E |



The term turnaround is often used in Blues, but not exclusively. It refers to a riff or lick which is played at the end of a progression, turning the progression around – bringing it back to the beginning.

Here is a favourite turnaround of mine, played entirely using chords. I don’t play it in this piece – but I want you to have it anyway :)

Here it is in A, so you’ll need to play it using barre chords:

| A A7 D Dm | A D D# E |

The chords of the second bar do not last one-beat each. If you count it with a triplet feel (or 12/8 time), then this chart shows when to change chords:

1    2    3    2    2    3    3    2    3    4    2    3
A                     D    D# E                    


So the A is on the 1st beat, whilst the D - D# - E is played on the '2,3,3'

You can play this following turnaround with open chords, when in the key of E:

| E E7 A Am | E / B7 |


Anyway, getting back to this 8 Bar Blues, here is the tab for the turnaround that I played:

 And that’s it as far as the rhythm goes :)



Soloing & Jamming

This piece particularly suits the major pentatonic, although you can also get away with the minor pentatonic. Sometimes, I combine elements from both – for example:

Here is a box which combines notes from the major and minor pentatonic scales, including the blues note (flattened fifth). Blues players often combine elements of the major and minor pentatonics. This is a position that is particularly favoured by B.B.King:


It is also the position that Peter Green uses (almost exclusively) for his beautiful soloing in Fleetwood Mac's classic, "Need Your Love So Bad".

Play around with this position from the 10th fret. The root note (A, in this position) is shown as a grey circle. If you don’t already know, then take the time now to locate this note on your neck (10th fret, second string) and see how it relates to the same note on the top string (5th fret) and 4th string (you find that one…or two).

The purpose is so that you can quickly / easily locate this position in different keys, when soloing over other pieces.

The orange notes are from the minor pentatonic (some of the notes, such as the root note, and fifth, are in both scales).

The black circles show notes from the major pentatonic scale. The blues note is indicated by a blue circle.

Locate where they are in this major pentatonic run, to further place this position in context. In this following diagram the root notes are grey:


Below are some example licks from the previous, combined-box position.

I tend to play this with the last note of the lick landing on the first beat of the first bar:

This next one is an example of how you can sometimes combine notes from the major and minor pentatonic, particularly in Blues and Jazz:
Next is a favourite of mine, and one for those of you with strong fingers; as it involves bending the second string four frets. I tend to play this at the end of a progression, just before going into the turnaround:
This is a common, repeatable pattern:
Another repeatable pattern that’s very common, this one is often played at speed. You’ll need to alternate pick to achieve any great speed, down with the first stroke, then down / up / down:
This one incorporates the ‘Blues note’ or ‘flattened fifth’:

Top Tips
  • Focus on following the (chord) changes. Ending each lick on the note that corresponds with the chord being played at the time is a good place to start with this. So finish a lick on an ‘A’ note over the A chord, a ‘D’ note over the D chord and an ‘E’ over the E chord. 

The root note (A) is easy to locate in the diagram, as I marked it with a grey circle.

Recognise that bending the second string at the 13th fret, to sound the note at the 15th fret, sounds the note of D. Another D is on the top string at the 10th fret.

E notes are on the top string at the 12th fret, and by bending the second string from the 13th to the 17th frets – a big bend, but very satisfying once mastered!
 
  • Another thing to play around with is to see how many different ways you can play the same set of notes, in the same order ~ but with different phrasing. Simply spend more time, or less time ,on each note. You may have a dozen favourite licks that you pull-out when jamming. If you can adapt each into three distinctly different versions then you’ve immediately tripled your personal 'lick library'.

So try it now – take a favourite lick, or a new one from this tutorial, and see how many different ways you can play it over the backing track.
 
  • Try messing around with what is often referred to as the ‘Blues Scale’. This is a minor pentatonic with an added flattened fifth. Take the A major scale and recognise which note is the fifth:

A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A

Flatten the fifth, by taking it down one fret (e.g. Eb), and add that to the minor pentatonic; creating the blues scale. Here it is with the root on the 6th string:


Play around with this from the 5th fret. Here is a lick from this position, incorporating the flattened fifth:
Realise that this lick includes the notes of D, E and A – so end on whichever note corresponds to the chord being played at the time. For instance, I’ve taken it to an A at the end, but you could simply drop the last note and end on the D over the D chord.

When teaching lead guitar, I advocate and encourage students to fret with the tips of there fingers. However, I also encourage exploration with putting fingers flat across the strings and striking two strings at a time.

Play around with these following six licks, putting them in different orders and seeing how you can adapt and change them:
Remember, the Blues is simply about playing with feeling – put your heart and soul into each note and you can’t lose :)

If you want to master major blues, which really requires changing key/scale with each chord change, check out my Introduction To Major Blues Soloing tutorial.


 

Stompin' Dark 

Key
Mainly in E Phrygian mode, although the bridge favours A Natural Minor.

Top Tip: When a piece is in the Phrygian mode, treat the key-note as the 3rd note of a major scale in order to ascertain the relative major. So, with our key-note as an E, the relative major scale is C; since E is the 3rd note in the C major scale.

If you learn how to play the rhythm track, then you can follow the changes when you solo e.g. end a lick on an A note over the A chord, or end on a G note over the G chord.

Another advantage to learning the rhythm is that you could experiment with playing the various riffs an octave or two higher.

How to play the backing track

Verse:
Primarily an E5, or power-chord, with the riff implying an F.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 2 -- 2 ------ 2 -- 2 ---------------- 2 -- 2 ------ 2 -- 2 ------ 3 -- 2 --------- 2 -- 2 ------ 2 -- 2 ---------------- 2 --
-- 2 -- 2 ------ 2 -- 2 --------- 3 ---- 2 -- 2 ------ 2 -- 2 ----------------- 3 --- 2 -- 2 ------ 2 -- 2 --------- 3 ---- 2 --
-- 0 -- 0 ------ 0 -- 0 ---- 0 --------- 0 -- 0 ------ 0 -- 0 ----------------------- 0 -- 0 ------ 0 -- 0 ---- 0 --------- 0 --



Bridge:
Played with power-chords:

| A5 / F5 G5 | /  /  /  / | A5 / F5 C5 | /  /  /  / |
| A5 / F5 G5 | /  /  /  / | A5 / F5 C5 | / / / D5 |


There is a riff in the background –

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------ 4 -- 5 -- 4 ---------------------------------- 4 -- 5 -- 4 --------- 4 -- 5 --
-- 5 -- 7------------------ 7 ------- 5 -------- 5 -- 7-------------------- 7 -------------
--------------------------------- 7 ---------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Chorus:
Played with power-chords:

| E5 / / G5 F5 | A5  /  /  C5    | 
| E5 / / G5 F5 | A5  /  /  C5    |
| E5 / / G5 F5 | A5  /  /  C5    |
| E5 / / G5 F5 | A5 / / C5 G5 |


As with the bridge, I’ve played a riff in the background, just on the top string:

-- 12 -- 12 -- 13 -- (15) 17 -- 15 -- 13 -- 


Improvising over Stompin’ Dark

As explained, this piece is in the key of E Phrygian mode with the relative major key of C – so when you solo over it you can use any or all the scales and box positions that you would play in C major, but with the E being the key note or tonal centre. 

The relative minor to C is A Natural minor – as they both contain the same notes:

C Major scale    = C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
A Nat minor scale    = A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A


So when you improvise over this piece you can use any / all the scales and box positions that you would play in A Natural minor, but with the E being the key note or tonal centre.

The Phrygian mode is a minor scale and it only differs from the Natural minor by one note; in this case the F:

E Natural minor     = E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E
E Phrygian mode    = E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E


Therefore, when improvising over this piece (particularly the verse and chorus) it works well to emphasis the F note. That is why I added the riff in the background of the chorus, which has an F in it (13th fret of the top string).

The E Phrygian mode has no sharps or flats, so you can play any / all the natural notes across the neck:
Here is the Phrygian mode box, root on 6th string. Play with this in the open position, or at the 12th fret.
Here is the Natural minor scale, or Aolian mode, root on the 6th string. Play with this at the 5th fret, or at the 17th fret.
The following scales contain only natural notes, so you can experiment with all of them over this piece – but remember that the E is the root/key note, so emphasise that:

E PhrygianF Lydian
G Mixolydian
A Nat minor
B Locrian
C major
D Dorian
E minor pent
F major pent
G major pent
A minor pent
C major pent
D minor pent

Don’t forget to experiment with the flattened 5th, which in E is A#, as a passing note.



 

Funky & Phrygid 

Key: C Phrygian for the verse
F Natural Minor for the bridge and chorus sections

Rhythm
I wanted to ‘force’ Phrygian mode for this track – but also to keep it simple. Phrygian mode is a minor mode, so I started with a Cm7. Phrygian mode is the only mode that has a minor chord two frets / one tone down from the root; so I simply added a B flat minor7 to the Cm7 – and there you have it!

I played two rhythm guitars on it, but all they both do is alternate between the chords of Cm7 and B flat minor7; one with a digital delay / echo.

Here is the tab for the fingering I played:

Cm7    
8
8
8
8
10
8


Bbm7
6
6
6
6
8
6


I played two separate guitar tracks so that I could use different effects on each, but it could be played on one and the following is written as such:


It sounds like I’m striking the strings more often, due to my using a digital delay – which repeats what I’ve just played.

The arrows are the strumming pattern. Each arrow shows the direction of the strumming arm. Long arrows = strum the strings, short arrows = move your arm in the direction indicated ~ but do not strum the strings.

The essence of learning to strum is to keep your strumming arm moving at all times, like a pendulum and in time with the music, whether or not you are striking the strings.


Here is the chord chart for the bridge section:

| Fm / / / | C# / / / | Bbm / / / | / Bbm G# / |

| Fm / / / | C# / / / | Bbm / / / | / Bbm G# / |

| Fm / / / | C# / / / | Bbm / / / | / Bbm G# / |

| Fm / / / | C# / / / | Cm / / / | C# / D# / |


Again, I play two guitar parts. One is played through a distortion, and is simply bar chords – mostly ‘A-type’ bar chords, so the Fm is played at the 8th fret.

The other guitar is playing Funk-style, three-string chords on just the top strings (thinnest three).

Here are the chord shapes I used:

Note: I didn’t play the G# on the ‘Funk’ guitar part.

Here is the chord chart for the chorus section:

| Fm / / / | Cm / / / | C# / / / | Cm / / / |

| Fm / / / | Cm / / / | C# / / / | G# / Bbm / |

| Fm / / / | Cm / / / | C# / / / | Cm / / / |

| Fm / / / | Cm / / / | Bbm / / / | / / / / |


As with the bridge section, I play two guitars – one with distortion and one in a Funk-style.

The distorted guitar is playing barre chords: A-type at the 8th fret for the Fm, then E-type at the 8th & 9th frets for the Cm and C# respectively.

The Funk-style guitar is playing the following shapes:

Soloing, Jamming & Improvising
The verses are in C Phrygian mode – which is a great minor scale to play with. Dependant on the style, it can sound very dark and Rock, or quite Spanish. Here is the box for the Phrygian mode, root on 6th string:


Notice that there is only one note, in three positions within this box, that is different from the natural minor scale. Once you have your Natural Minor box position memorised it is therefore quite easy to swap to this mode.

Play around with this box from the 8th fret for the key of C Phrygian.

Stress the C# notes; 9th fret on the 1st & 6th strings & 11th fret on the 4th string; within your improvising in order to highlight the Phrygian ‘sound’.

The bridge and chorus sections favour the F Natural minor scale. This shares the same notes as the C Phrygian – so you can stay in the same position – but if you move to the Fm position then you will find your 'root notes' are still on the 1st, 4th and 6th strings

Below is the Natural minor scale box, root on the 6th string.

Play around with this at the 1st or 13th frets when in Fm, over the bridge and chorus.



The Minor Pentatonic and Blues scales will also work well over this piece – they can always substitute the Natural minor – as they can be regarded as simplified versions of it.




Play these from the 8th fret for the verses (in C) and at the 1st or 13th frets for the bridge / chorus sections:




The minor pentatonic, root on 6th













The blues scale, root on 6th



The flattened 5th, or ‘Blues note’ – which is the only difference between the two scales – is a note to get familiar with and to experiment with in every scale as a passing note.





Finally, the remainder of this tutorial provides some choice licks to add to your repertoire :)

Key:
s = slide
h = hammer-on
p = pull-off
b = bend


These first batch are all within the Phrygian mode:

--8h9p8----8h9p8--9----------------
------------------------------11b13-----
--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------



---------------------------------------------------------
--8h9p8s7--8p7s6--7p6s4--6b8--------------
---------------------------------------------7s8s7----
---------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------



--8-8-8-9-9-9-8-8----
--8-8-8-9-9-9-8-8----
--5-5-5-6-6-6-5-5----
---------------------------
---------------------------
---------------------------



----------8h11--9----------
--8h9----------------8------
-------------------------------
-------------------------------
-------------------------------
-------------------------------



----------6---------6----------6---8b9b8---s11--9-----------------
--7s8-------7s8------7s8-------------------------------11s13-----
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------------------------



---------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------
--10b11b10--8-------------------------
----------------------10-------11---------
----------------------------9---------8-----



-------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------
--11p10----------10-11---------------------------------
--------------11--------------10-9-8----6h8p6--------
--------------------------------------------------------8----



------------------8---9p8-----------------------------------------
-------------9-----------------11b13---11b14---11b13-----
-------10-----------------------------------------------------------
-11-----------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------------------


Here are a few licks around the F Natural minor scale:

-----------1-------------------------------
--1h2---------2--------------------------
---------------------3p1p0--------------
---------------------------------1s3------
--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------



----------------------------------------
----------------------------------------
--------13---------12---------13---
--15---------15---------15---------
----------------------------------------
----------------------------------------



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------13---14p13-----------------
--------13--15-16-15--13---------13--15-16--------------------15-----------
--15-----------------------------15------------------------------------------15-----
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



---------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------13---15p13-------13----
--------------13--------15----------------15--------------
--------15--------16----------------------------------------
--16----------------------------------------------------------
Good luck with your playing and enjoy!

Kind regards
Robin





 

Big Max Blues 

This is a chord progression pulled together by a musician / friend who is a Jazz-Funk player – and called Max; hence the title :)
As he is a Jazzer – this is about as Blues as he gets; which is about as Jazz as many players get!

It’s a great progression for introducing you to Jazz-Blues, and for practicing following the changes when you get into improvising over it.

You can play the track whilst reading this by selecting it on the player at the base of this page.

You probably need to master the rhythm, and to really understand what’s going on with the chords, if you are to improvise over this piece competently and get the most from this lesson. I’m not sure you’ll want to play it exactly as I do – but do master the chord shapes, and learn the progression.

Rhythm
Here are chord diagrams for those being played:


Here is the chord chart:

| A6 / / / | D9 Db9 D9 / | A7sus2 / / / | / A13 D#9 / |

| D9 / / / | D9 Db9 D9 / | Amaj7 / Bm7 / | C#m7 / F#7 / |

| Bm7 / / / | - E7#9 E9 E7b9 | A / / / | - E7#9 / E9 / |



The A is played as a standard barre chord, but with a riff that I come to later in this lesson. So there you have the basics. 


Now lets study a bit more of the detail of how I actually play it in my backing track.

As far as my picking-hand goes, I am plucking the bass notes of each chord with my thumb and then using my index, middle and ring fingers to pluck the strings that I want to hear. This gives a lot of control over which strings are sounded. I do sometimes strum this piece, but it takes a lot of care to dampen the correct strings, and I think that it’s probably overall easier to play it by plucking.

During the 5th and 6th bars, I move the middle finger of my fretting hand to alternate the bass from the 5th fret, to the 4th, 5th and 6th frets. Here is tab for what I actually play on the recording over those two bars:

------------------------------------------------------
--5--5----5----5----5----5--------------5--------
--5--5----5----5----5----5--------------5--------
--4--4-------------------------------------4--------
--5-----4----5----6----5----4--5--------5--------
------------------------------------------------------


Basically, I finger the D9 with my middle finger on the 5th string (as usual for this shape) and then use my index finger to finger the 4th fret and slide my middle finger back and forth between the 5th & 6th frets to achieve the ‘walking-bass line’ effect.

During the 9th bar I bring my little-finger into play, fretting the 9th fret on the top string for a little fill, but the next portion to really warrant some attention is the 10th bar – which looks worst than it is in my opinion; but can still take some practice to master.

It is well worth it, for it results in a lovely run down the second string – from the 8th to the 7th to the 6th frets. Blues turnarounds often have that running theme using these notes before ending on the 5th – but I haven’t seen many folks use this little chord progression.

Essentially it’s all around the standard ninth chord – which is fairly common in upbeat Blues. From that E9, you simply pop your little finger on the 2nd string (8th fret) to form what many of us refer to as the ‘Jimi-chord’. Then it’s back to the standard E9 before dropping the 2nd string once more. This forms what I have called an E7add9. If you study it in comparison to the E9, you’ll see that the only difference is the 2nd string – where we’re one fret down.

Now you have a great little Jazz-Blues turnaround under your belt :)

The final section that requires some attention is the A riff during the 11th bar. 

This is all based around standard A and D bar chords, at the 5th fret, with a little ‘twiddley’ bit thrown in. It is a great little Blues riff in it’s own right – you could play a nice 12-bar Blues using nothing but this riff 
Although not playing all of the notes at the fifth fret, I find it easiest to play this riff with the index finger of my fretting hand barring all six strings at the fifth fret.

Here it is in tab:

----------------------------------------------
------7---5----------------------------------
------7---5h6p5h6p5h6p5--------------
------7---5---------------------------5-----
---------------------------------5h7--------
-5-5-----------------------------------------


So there you have it! I’ve enjoyed playing this for over a decade – I hope you have similar enjoyment from it 

Soloing, Jamming & Improvising
My recommendation is for you to begin by composing a solo for this piece – actually write out what you’re going to play – and then play it; adapting it as you go along to create something that fits, that you like a lot, and commit it to memory.

This will require you to become intimate with the chord progression, and will prepare you well for spontaneous jamming and improvisation over it.

I suggest you focus around the Mixolydian mode for your soloing / improvising. Here is the Mixolydian mode box, root on 6th string:



So the first job is to play this, from the 5th fret for our key of A, and familiarise yourself with where the notes are within this six-fret section of neck.



The major pentatonic also fits nicely; sharing its notes with the Mixolydian scale:








Play this from the 5th fret, for the key of A.
I suggest you put the backing track on and simply move up and down these scales, whilst listening to how the notes sound over the chord progression.

Do this now.


Now lets start you off in creating a solo over this piece. First step is to take a good look at the first chord – what notes have we got?

Our first chord is an A6:

---x---
---5---
---6---
---4---
---x---
---5---


So, lets create the first lick of your solo. Use notes from the Mixolydian scale, whilst focusing on including notes from the chord.
Here is an example lick that I have played over this first bar:

------------------
------------------
-5h6------------  
------6-5-4----- 
------------------
------------------



Notice that it includes the 3rd (6th fret, 3rd string) and the 6th (4th fret, 4th string) from the A6 chord.

My tips for your lick are to include the 3rd or the 6th – or both the 3rd and the 6th – within your first lick. Write your lick now, using 3 or 4 notes from the Mixolydian or Major Pentatonic scales.


The second bar consists of a D9. As with the A6, take a good look at the chord first, playing it and really ‘taking-in’ where your fingers are:

---5---
---5---

---5---
---4---
---5---
---x---

My tips for your lick are to include the flattened third from A (e.g. 5th fret on 3rd string) and / or a D note.

Here are a couple of licks that I’ve played over a D9 chord:
--------------------
--------------------
-------------s7---- 
--7-6-5-4--------- 
---------------------
---------------------



--------------
--------------
--5---------- 
-------4----- 
----5-------- 
--------------



The next chord has the second note from the major scale (4th fret, 3rd string) and the flattened 7th (5th fret, 4th string):

---x---
---5---
---4---
---5---
---x---
---5---


I tend to include these notes in my playing. Here are a couple of example licks that I’ve played over this chord: 

--------------------
--------------------
-------6-----4-----
--s7-----7--------
--------------------
--------------------



-----------------------
--5--------------------
------6------4-------- 
----------7------5---- 
------------------------
------------------------

 
We next have a great little transition from the I to the IV chords, from an A13 (I) to a D9 (IV) via a D#9.

A13
---x---
---5---
---3---
---6---
---x---
---5---



D#9
---6---
---6---
---6---
---5---
---6---
---x---



D9
---5---
---5---
---5---
---4---
---5---
---x---


Here are a couple of licks that I have played over this section:

-------------------------
--7p5------------------ 
--------6-7------------- 
-------------5s4------- 
------------------5----- 



-----------------------------
----7---6--6-5------------
--6---6----------8-7------
-----------------------------
-----------------------------
-----------------------------



I encourage you to learn these licks and see how they relate to the chords being played at the time. Notice how I squeeze-in the 6th fret on the second string during that last lick. It’s completely ‘out of scale’; but works if the note is only played over the D#9 – which contains this note.

Create another lick or two over the D9. Note that the D9 introduces a note that is not in our Mixolydian scale – you may want to take advantage of this in your lick.

..then you’re onto the Amaj7.

---x---
---5---
---6---
---6---
---x---
---5---


The Amaj7 is only played briefly, so I tend to simply head for the 7th note (6th fret, fourth string) at the end of my lick(s) over the D9.

For instance, I may play this over the back-end of the D9 bars, with the last note being sounded on the first beat of the Amaj7:

--------------------------5s4---- 
------------------5-5s7--------- 
----------5----6----------------- 
----4h7----7-------------------- 
--5------------------------------- 



Once again, we have several chords in fairly quick succession, so I tend to play one or two licks that move through the chords.

So following my last example lick, I am starting from the 4th fret of the top string. I may therefore play this next lick as the band move to the Bm7:

-7p5-------
-------7----
-------------
-------------
-------------
------------- 



Then moving from the Bm7 to the C#m7:

-----7h9----
-s9----------
--------------
--------------
--------------
--------------


And then I could simply move into an arpeggio for the F#7. 

Note: ‘arpeggio’ simply means the notes of a chord played one after the other; whilst a chord is the notes played all at the same time.

----------------------------
--9p7--------------------- 
--------9------------------ 
----------8---------------- 
-------------9------------- 
----------------------------



In truth, I tend not to follow the changes quite as rigidly as this – not that it’s wrong; just not my style at the moment – but I am doing so in these example licks because I’m wanting to make a point; for you to become really intimate with this chord progression and for you to experience what it is like to focus on playing notes from a chord when you solo.

How is your solo coming on? Well, I hope :)

I must say that I’d welcome hearing what some of you are coming up with – so if you have the facilities, do record yourself soloing over my backing trax and send me an mp3.

Anyway, back to our progression…

We’re now back to another Bm7; so I’ll leave you to come up with your lick for that unaided. Then we have our lovely run down the second string around our E9 chord:


As you can see, the defining notes through these three chords are on the second string. How might you incorporate, or complement, this into your solo?
  • Try playing the exact same notes.
  • Try playing the same notes, but an octave higher or lower.
  • Try playing the notes whilst alternating with another note.
  • Try harmonising with these notes.

Here is an example of what I might play:

-5----5---5-----------
----8---7----6--------
------------------------
------------------------
------------------------
------------------------


Another of my favourite versions of this is:

-------------------------
--10-10-10----------
------------------------ 
------------------------ 
--10--9--8-----------
------------------------ 



I’ve written it as playing the notes simultaneously, as that is how I’d tend to use it over this progression, but I’ll often use it as a Blues turnaround – in which case I’d play it more like this next tab (overleaf).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
---------10-------------10------------10---------10---10---10-----9--9--9--9\-----
------------------------------------------------------9-----9-----9-----9--9--9--9\----- 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------9--9--9--9\----- 
-s10---------10--9-----------9--8---------8--7-----7-----7--------7--7--7--7\----- 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------0--0--0--0------



I tend to play a classic Blues lick over the A riff; something like:

----------5--------------
--------5---8b10------
--7b9-------------------
--------------------------
--------------------------
--------------------------



..and then maybe finish with something like:

----------------------
--8-9-8-9----------
-------------9-------
----------------------
----------------------
----------------------


..over the last bar – squeezing in the note at the 9th fret of the second string, which is (again) ‘out of the scale’ – just because I can over an E7b9.
 
Good luck with your playing – and enjoy!
Kind regards
Robin




 

#AskRobinMay

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