How to get out of your pentatonic rut

One of the most common questions students ask me is, “how can I get out of playing the same old pentatonic licks?”

Since you ask, here’s the first part of a series on alternatives to the minor pentatonic when you’re soloing over a major 12 bar blues.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to use dominant 7th arpeggios over the turnaround (that’s the last four bars) of a 12 bar. We’re in A major, so those chords are E7, D7, and A7.

Arpeggios are made up entirely of the notes in the chord, so they always fit perfectly over the changes. The only problem is that when most guitarists start trying to improvise with arpeggios, they stop playing licks and start wondering up and down the shapes. This sounds crap. Don’t do it. It’s important to phrase with arpeggios the same way you would with the pentatonic scale. Use bends, slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs, double stops, rhythmic variety, and dynamics to make it sound musical.

In the video, you’ll see me playing over a turnaround exclusively using arpeggios. It still sounds bluesy, and it gives you an alternative to the minor pentatonic. Rather than flying around all over the neck, I’ve used arpeggios that are all in the same area of the neck. If you know the CAGED system, I’ve used the C shape for the E7 arpeggio, the A shape for the D7 arpeggio, and the E shape for A7. All those arpeggios fit around the 5th fret area, making them easy to integrate with your regular A minor pentatonic stuff. By staying in one area of the neck, it’s also easier to make the licks flow into each other.

I’ve also included free tab (Blues Turnarounds) for this lick as well as the next few lessons for you to download.

 

Cheers,

Jonny

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