When we solo over a blues progression, we have a “key” that we use…

t‘s always a “blues in E” or a “blues in A,” and we go with that, even though it’s not entirely accurate (see other videos for that discussion đŸ˜‰

But what happens if it’s not a blues, and you can’t tell at a glance what key it’s in? How do you just jump in and solo?

You have to play follow the chord, and here’s how you might do that.

If you dig this, you might really enjoy The Little Wing Lesson.

    16 replies to "How Do You Solo If You Can’t Find The Key?"

    • Gonçalo Correia



      Thanks Griff, for your quick reply

    • Roy Rupert

      The Little Wing lesson is great. I’ve been learning it slowly but am progressing

    • Mark Baines

      Great lesson/tip video Griff, thanks. What course of yours is best for learning the various boxes used in playing major and minor pentatonic?

      • Griff

        For this style of playing check the link above, right under the video, to The Little Wing Lesson

    • Gary Hewitt

      Griff, It was so nice watching you do this video. It’s obvious you love teaching music and playing the guitar. Thank you for your enthusiastic approach to the instrument and teaching others how to enjoy the guitar. Hope to see one of your shows someday. Gary

    • Fraser Wilson

      Hi Griff, off slightly off topic. I have quite a number off your courses, but lately when I try to order, you’re unable to ship outside the US. Will that change? Thanks,

      • Griff

        Unfortunately shipping outside the US has become too costly and unreliable since COVID. Will that change? Hard to say. Currently to ship a course to the UK or Australia can easily cost more than the course, itself, and there’s only a 50% chance it will ever arrive.

      • Norm Maskery

        Yes I’m having the same problem Griff, what’s up

        • Norm Maskery

          Griff I sit to expensive to send to Canada??

          • Norm Maskery

            Griff, what if I pay the postage??

    • Richard Gaudet

      Situational awareness and obscure detail is often what makes a solo interesting. You can float through a progression with pentatonic scales belonging to the chord type and you will not offend anyone’s ear. However the price is boredom as you stretch your creativity to your limits. You are also lacking the use of half steps, which, when understood where and when they can be used, adds things the pentatonics can’t. You are also neglecting other theoretical mechanisms that could add interest, (but you also will wander away from a strict blues feel – e.g., playing outside, playing pentatonics of the same quality on the 9th and 5th or on the b5 for dominant 7ths-that will take some work to build proper phrasing, etc). Repetition is not only hell, but is the royal road to boredom.

      If you don’t know the progression or the form without paper or a screen, you do not know the tune. You should be able to motor through the progression a measure or two ahead of the band, have internalized concept templates bubble up as new ideas and respond to what’s happening with more emotion than thought.

      • Griff

        While that’s not wrong, it’s not always an option. And there are plenty of instances where songs go through several keys during a solo and playing diatonic scales sounds jarring and angular while the pentatonic scale sounds more pleasing to my ear.

    • Sam Gunn

      Am I right in thinking that there is an underlying assumption that you know what chord is being played because you have them written down on a bit of paper or screen, and so Griff is explaining how to easily and quickly find the right major or minor pentatonic scale to suit so you can improvise a solo?

      • Griff

        Yes, you always have to know the chords you’re soloing over, at a minimum.

    • Richard Croce

      I have the little wing lesson. Its excellent. Thank you for this. God bless

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