Top 5 Tips To Supercharge Your Blues Guitar Solo Phrasing

Good phrasing is key to developing blues guitar solos that sound good and are a hit with listeners. This post shares 5 tips I’ve found helpful to create good phrases. I hope you’ll find them useful too.

Our Top 5 Blues Guitar Solo Tips

1. Keep it simple

It’s easy to spend hours… months… even years in a constant quest for fancy new tricks, scales, and licks full of notes, but what really makes the best blues phrases is simplicity.

Not that you can’t use anything special, or learn new things, but don’t ignore the basics. Learn how to choose the right note in the right context and your phrases will be effective without fancy tricks.

2. Use repetition and sequencing

If a thing’s worth saying, it’s worth saying twice. If you come up with a neat lick, repeat it. Repetition increases tension (up to a point) and helps sign post your solo for the audience.

You can sequence your lick for added effect. This simply means repeating it from a different starting note, e.g. an octave or two higher or lower.

3. Use dynamics and space

One easy way to add interest to your licks is to work the dynamics – how loud or soft you play. If you play everything at the same level then your solo will sound monotone. Just like when speaking, inject enthusiasm, fear, anger or other emotions into your licks by varying the intensity of your playing.

Remember too that nobody likes to listen to someone who talks non-stop. Leave some silent spaces in your solos.

4. Target chord tones

The best blues guitar solos capture the movement of the chords. Devise your licks to finish on the characteristic notes of each chord of the blues progression, the root, third and seventh notes are good candidates. Accentuate the chord changes by using these notes to lead into each change.

5. Use the melody

If you base your licks and solo on the melody you will often address most of the other points above. This doesn’t mean you have to simply copy the melody note for note, but weave phrases of your own with those of the melody and take melody phrases and alter them by playing with the other ideas suggested in this list.

Work on these five tips as part of your blues guitar solo practice and improve your solos. I suggest choosing one tip at a time and working on it until it becomes an integrated part of your playing. Then move on to the next and repeat the process.