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Blues Guitar Lessons: Soloing With Chords

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Soloing With Chords.
Now, the last couple of lectures we looked
at how to thicken up the texture of
your phrases using double stops,
either third intervals [SOUND] or
sixth intervals.
[SOUND] That one you combine a third
interval [SOUND] and a sixth interval.
You actually create a three note chord by
putting all those notes together.
The result is just a short hop
from playing two notes at a time
to playing three notes at a time.
And, in affecting you're
soloing with chords.
That might seem like kind
of a drastic concept.
And if you think of jazz chord melody,
it can get pretty deep, but
we're gonna do it Blues-style.
And the way the guys used to do it
acoustic blues, was when they had to keep
time for themselves, [SOUND] they'd play
a little pattern on the low strings.
I'm gonna show you how to do this later,
by the way.
that sound, which I'm
sure you've heard,
that's sort of Robert Johnson
style [SOUND] chord melody.
Now what makes it a chord melody is
that you could say on the one hand,
every chord has a melodic component to it.
Because whenever you voice a chord,
you're choosing the notes of the chord
based on a certain arrangement.
And one of the important factors
is [SOUND] what notes on top.
And when we play horn section voicings,
and all that stuff,
we're paying attention to the top note.
And saying, how does this chord
connect to that chord via the melody?
We're gonna just take that
idea a step further and
look at our melodies from the top down.
This is top-down thinking,
you might call it.
So the first step along the way is to
develop a set of chords that we can
move around easily.
And these three note chords
are not hard to finger.
In the key of A,
if I start at the low end of the neck and
say where are my A7 chords?
Thinking from the top down, I've got
[SOUND] A7 with the seventh on top.
[SOUND] That's about as close as I can get
without using open strings for the moment.
Next up I would have A with
a [SOUND] root on top.
So what I'm doing here
is using the arpeggio.
[SOUND] And I'm gonna harmonize
each note of the arpeggio,
each chord tone,
with a [SOUND] three note chord.
So there's the seventh harmonized
with just a regular A chord.
We know that chord already.
[SOUND] There's a [SOUND] the root
harmonized with an A chord.
Just [SOUND] top part of that triad there.
[SOUND] Here is [SOUND] the third
[SOUND] harmonized with
another seventh chord that we've
used quite a bit [SOUND] and
then here's the fifth [SOUND].
And I'm harmonizing with that chord that I
introduced as part of the Chicago style.
It's a voicing [SOUND] and
its not exclusive to Chicago, but
guitar players in Chicago seem
to favor that chord a lot.
So A7 with the [SOUND]
fifth on top [SOUND].
So if I play them together,
I've got [SOUND].
Now, those are pretty distinct chords, and
that doesn't sound like much of a melody,
it's pretty technical.
But the way that players put those chords
together is basically very intuitive.
You just use half steps.
So if I wanted to get from here [SOUND]
to there [SOUND] I go [SOUND] and
that's the sound that we heard in
the turnarounds, the classic turnarounds.
[SOUND] Now we're filling
in the middle note.
[SOUND] Or, I could be down here.
Here's another slightly different
approach on the same idea.
[SOUND] Just reach up and
add another note on the top of the chord.
[SOUND] I want to keep going.
[SOUND] So, in affect,
I can play melodies all over the place but
I'm really just using four shapes and
manipulating those shapes by moving
them up and down in half steps.
So the basic idea is not that complicated.
You gotta get your fingers
wrapped around it and
be able to move it consistently
without getting lost.
Once you're able to do
that on the A chord then,
exactly the same concept would apply
to the four chord or the five chord.
So, in the key of A,
the four chord is D, [SOUND].
And I say, what's the lowest
voicing of D that I can find?
Let's see, D [SOUND],
there's my D arpeggio.
[SOUND] Let's see, D,
that's on the second string,
I don't want that, how about,
[SOUND] there we go, [SOUND].
On the first string, D7 [SOUND].
Now, the voicings are not gonna change,
whether it's A or D or the five chord E.
Same exact voicings,
just in different positions.
So I know that when I played
A [SOUND] with the third on top,
the next voicing up was [SOUND]
A with the fifth on top.
Well, the same thing will apply.
[SOUND] D, third on top,
[SOUND] D with the fifth on top,
I can finger it like this, I'm stretching
or relax a little bit like that [SOUND].
What's the next voicing up would
be the seventh on top [SOUND], and
what's after that?
The root [SOUND].
So there's D, D, D, D.
So from A, [SOUND] I look for
my connections,
just as I do with melodies [SOUND].
Going from A to D melodically,
I say, well the third of A,
down a half step,
there's the seventh of D.
The same thing applies
with chords [SOUND].
The third of A is on top of that chord,
here comes D.
The seventh.
Nice little connection.
So the melody is still a melody,
it's just that I'm harmonizing
the melody as I'm moving it around.
The same thing would apply in just
about any spot there [SOUND].
Here's A with the root on top,
[SOUND] here's D with the fifth on top,
It's the same note.
Here's [SOUND] A with the seventh on top.
And right next door is the D
with the third on top.
Now, thinking about the numbers
can drive you crazy.
But you learn the shapes,
[SOUND] and you just say,
that one chord goes with that four chord.
That's a move that I can kind
of absorb and put to work.
Now the last part of the puzzle
here would be the five chord.
I'm in the key of A, my five chord is E.
[SOUND] So I think,
what are the notes in an E7 chord?
I've got
Well, I could start down here
with E in open position, but
if I want to stay away from
the open strings for the moment,
[SOUND] next one up would be E7 [SOUND]
with the third on top, [SOUND].
And then the shapes will go in
the same exact order every time,
fifth on top, seventh on top,
that root on top.
So when I go from A to E, there's A,
[SOUND] there's E [SOUND],
there's A, [SOUND] there's D.
Here is A [SOUND], Here is D [SOUND].
Here's A, [SOUND] Here's E [SOUND].
All right?
Here's A [SOUND], here's D [SOUND],
here's A [SOUND], here's E [SOUND] A,
It's kind of miraculous in a way, but each
of the chord changes is within a half step
of the other, if you look at the melodies,
they're all like right there together.
So the art of it is to find
those connections on the fly.
And as is true of every other element
of style that we develop here,
you start with a lot of thinking,
a lot of practicing, memorization.
You memorize phrases.
You get your fingers to cooperate so
you can play in tempo, [SOUND] and as you
build up a vocabulary, then, at a certain
point you are able to think spontaneously.
You can kinda hear the next chord coming
and make decisions more on the fly.
But at the beginning, it's planning
careful execution, memorization,
get the muscles to cooperate, and
everything else follows from that.
So I'm gonna give you an example of
a 12 bar blues in A using chords,
soloing with chords.
Now, to actually play an entire
12 bar solo with chords
in the electric guitar realm, you don't
hear it that often, these days especially.
This is a single note
world that we live in.
But think of the chords as being
an extra texture that you can use.
So, if you're, like the double stops.
You're playing single notes all the time.
That becomes your main go to sound.
And, to mix it up a little bit,
you just say, well,
I'm gonna add another note to that and
make it a double stop.
Well, if I add two notes to that,
make it a chord.
And it gives you a different way to
kinda launch a course of a solo.
And, it's a little
ear-catching and
from that, you can then,
switch back again,
All right.
So, there I used my chords as my intro and
that's a, it's such a blues sound.
It's such a classic blues sound.
That [SOUND] type of phrasing just
brings you right back to the Delta.
And then, [SOUND] I'm playing my single
old licks that I would normally play.
And I'll show you all these ideas
in various forms as we go through
the curriculum here.
But for today, let's just take
the chords and isolate them and
really play melodically using
chords over a 12 bar shuffle in A.
And I'll show you how
to make these changes.
Okay, here we go.
on, and
on, and
on, we
can fade
that out.
Now the idea there [COUGH] that I
played was pretty much what I've
been talking about.
And just put together in tempo.
So [SOUND] A7, down a half step.
Now, what's going on there?
Well, that's what you might
think of as an embellishment,
it just adds a little color to it.
Technically what's going on there,
believe it or not,
[SOUND] I'm playing a diminished chord.
This goes back, remember,
to the ragtime, sound of the,
it was a pop style of music
that preceded the blues.
And you had [SOUND] lots
of diminished chords
were used in ragtime harmony as kinda,
passing chords.
They're the glue that ties
the other chord changes together.
So here's an example of that.
[SOUND] A7 [SOUND] to, what would you
call that, A diminished actually.
[SOUND] And then I'll go down a half step.
then I switch to another A7 chord.
[SOUND] Played that A7 with
the root up on top with my little
finger created that melody there.
And then, there was D7 right there,
can't miss it [SOUND] up at half steps.
Now I did a little move there where
I didn't move the whole chord.
I just moved the lowest note [SOUND].
All right?
Just a variation on the idea.
Something that I've heard and
liked, borrowed, stole.
So [SOUND] and then I kind of stripped
it down a little bit [SOUND].
So instead of playing the full chord,
I played the sixth interval,
that's on the outside of the chord.
[SOUND] A little trill there,
just that rapid hammer on pull-off.
And then [SOUND] that's real
down home stuff, there.
E7 with their alternating
between the sevens and the root.
And then I went to a more
of a Chicago style [SOUND].
Now I'm still playing chords,
I'm thinking chords.
[SOUND] I wasn't playing
the full three note voicing, but
I was thinking going from the seventh,
to the sixth, to the fifth.
[SOUND] And then the turn around.
All right.
Million ways you can do this stuff.
It's a matter of how you hear it.
So what I've got in the back of
my mind as I'm playing that is
players I've listened to.
Jimmy Rodgers,
who was muddy water's guitar player, but
also a recording artist in his own right.
Made a lot of great records and
he electrified that down home sound, and
used those chords in such a beautiful way.
So you hear it in the acoustic guys for
But the electric guitar players
of that early generation of city
blues also took that same technique and
moved it forward.
So you can listen to those recordings.
I have given you some
recommendations to go check out and
see how it's used in context.
But, as with everything else,
to really master the idea,
you got to move it around to different
keys and see where those chords tones are.
And, after a while,
just like the third intervals, and
the sixth intervals You start to see
the shapes as just a familiar pattern.
It's like yeah, well if I'm playing
this then, that's next door and
that's the next one and
your hand snaps into position.
Now with your hands doing it and the motor
memory instilled, that's when you can
use your ear and start to be creative with
it and make more spontaneous decision.
But take that example that I showed
you there and work on it and
get it in tempo and send it to me.
Let me hear what you're doing.
I wanna hear how you're using these
chords so, I can come listen and
give you some feedback.
All right?
Have fun with that one.