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Soloing over multiple chords

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Ace123, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. Ace123


    Sep 25, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    Hey everyone. I seem to be having a problem soloing over multiple chords. For example, i can solo if the guitarist just plays the chord of C or something. However, in our band we have multiple chords like (in this particular case) we have a song which goes from Amaj to Gmaj to Cmaj then to Dmaj.
    The problem i am having is making a solo to go over all these chords at once. I do not understand what i am supposed to do. Am i supposed to solo over the A then when we go to G solo with notes in that scale? This doesn't sound very natural. However, using notes from A which do not fit into G does not sound natural either when the chord changes.

    When i solo i tend to stay in the scale form and/or use the root 3 5th because i am not very skilled at knowing what notes are in the scales (yet, i am working on it). So is this a problem also?

    I play in a classic rock/jam band and i'm just wondering how to solo over multiple chord changes. Experienced players help me out please!
    Thanks in advance!
  2. First of all LEARN YOUR SCALES that will make everything 10x easier. If all the notes in all the chords can be found in ONE scale then you are home free simply jamm on som cool licks from that scale.

    You can also switch scales as the guitar switch chords.

    Example frome case number 1:

    Am, F, C, Em. Here we are free to use the natural minor scale in the key of A since al the notes in the chords can be found in the Aminor scale.

    Example from case numer 2:

    Am, C, D Em. Here the D chord presents a broblen since it doesnt fit into the A minor scale. We can then solve it by using the A minor scale to solo over the Am and C chords and then switch over to the Dminor scale under the D chord and Eminor under the Em chord.

    However great it might be to know how to use theory, rules are made to be broken. Sometimes a odd note might be what the solo needs to be more interesting. Inserting chromatics is always a fun way of spicing up a solo and give it some edge.
  3. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    Great question I never thought of it that way. Just starting lessons myself about two months ago I am curious as well as what some of these players would do here. There is a lot one could do modes, scales, etc. but how and where do you make them fit in is the 10,000 dollar question.
  4. Ace123


    Sep 25, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    Great post leffe. However, i was wondering how do you do all this in "real time." Or if you're just jamming and its your turn for a solo or something. You can't just stop and think, well, F is in the Aminor scale so i could use that etc. Can you?! I know that i'm not knowledable on my scales yet to do that but i find it hard to solo on the spot. If i spend time to think about developing solo then i can do something decent but its tough to solo on the spot.

    Great idea though, that really helps.
    Any more ideas?
  5. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    A and G pentatonic scales.

    A B C# E F#, over the first chord.

    G A B D E, over the rest.
  6. bassmantele


    Jul 22, 2003
    Boston MA USA
    A lot of rock music uses one scale over multiple chords. Depending on the song, an A minor pentatonic might work: A C D E G. I suspect it would work over that progression. The other way is to play the progression. In this case, the associated major pentatonics over each chord: A maj. pent, G maj. pent. etc.

    Remember, you're playing a melody, not an arpeggio or scale exercise. That progression is pretty common in one form or another, so look for tabs of songs that have progressions like it and listen to what the bass and guitar are doing.
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    The point of knowing theory (and having well trained ears, I might add) is so you'll know which odd notes will add spice, and which will punish your listeners. Chromaticism in solos is great, but they should resolve to make sense.
  8. Yeah pentatonics are a easy way of improvising over any chordprogression but however it can easily get pretty boring. It´s easy to get stuck in a box.
  9. By learning theory you will notice some common chordprogressions and you will probably know what to play over them.

    Some relatively safe rules to follow when soloing on the spot. I will assume you have a given chordprogression to solo over.

    1. To state the obvious jam on ONE key(for example Aminor). Use only chords found in that scale, then you soloing problem is solved.

    2. Play the scale that the backing chord is based on. Ex: If the chord is G play the major sclae in G, if the Chord is Em play the natural minor scale in E.

    3. Learn the pentatonic scale and the blues scale. Those boxpatterns are easy to move under a series of chordchanges. However it can get rather boring just to move boxpatterns but later on you can learn how to incorperate for example chromatic in you pentatonic licks.

    4. Dont think notes A E C think in intervals Root, fifth, third etc.

    5. As stated before study thoery, learn common chordprogressions and w´hat works to play over them.

    Also one other thing. When jammin on the spot you will without question hit on or two bad notes since your playing on the top of your head so id wont matter so much if you use a Aminor scale over an A C D Em progression where the D chord isnt found in the Aminor scale. Since you are soloing you will play pretty fast notes and as long as you dont let a bad note ring for too long it wont be a big problem.

    I play mostly metal and dont solo wery often and when I do its mostly over powerchords so I dont really have that much problems with finding out wich notes or scales to use.

    Hope this post helps// Keep grooving!! and Metal up your ass!!
  10. Absolutely. I guess I didnt get that thru in my post. If you dont know any theory you are simply going by trial and error and that is a pretty bad and time consuming way of finding the right notes. By knowing you will as Pacman stated know wich oddball notes to use. However some of those odd but cool sounding notes happen by accident.

    The lesson in this post. LEANRN YOUR THEORY!!!!!
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Probably!! :meh:

    I think this is a very vague statement almost to the point of being meaningless....?

    If we're talking about chords - then the first thing to do is to learn all the notes in every type of chord - you can make pretty good solos out of just the notes in each chord and I couldn't count the number of times Jazz pros have demonstrated this to me!! ;)

    I tend to practice soloing over chord sequences by programming these into a microcomposer/sequencer and looping it, then playing over this and a basic rhythm track (metronome).

    You can add passing chromatic notes, but as Jon says they can be dangerous.

    Where learning theory comes in, is that it gives you alternative scales to play over chords to give more colour - but as I said you can make satisfactory solos just of chord tones - when you have done this - then is the time to start learning more theory!
  12. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Yes. Chord tones are always your safest bet when soloing on chord changes.

    Check out some Milesish stuff pre 1960s. I'm willing to bet money the majority of the tones he chooses are chord tones.

    That said, of course you shouldn't stay way from scale tones or chromatic tones.
    For beginners I do think working with the chord structures to be generally better because:

    a) it limits your options a bit
    b) it helps get the harmony in your ears

  13. Ace123


    Sep 25, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    wow! guys thanks for all the great posts. I've been practicing soloing lately and the problem i find is that i don't know the fretboard well enough and i don't know the notes in scales well enough. Like i'll be jamming over a Cmaj chord and i'll stay in the same one octave position starting on the third fret of the A string.
    Any tips for practicing scales/solos based off scales?

    Thanks for the excellent help so far, you guys have really taught me a lot. I just need to keep practicing and learn my theory.
  14. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    ACe, it sounds like you don't know your scales well enough. (You don't know them well enough if you only can play them root to octave and back down.) Try my method:

    Click here to improve

    Maybe someone can sticky this thread....

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