I get this all the time… “I want to improve my blues soloing…”

Yeah, I get that, but exactly *how* do you intend to do that?

And, what is “improved” going to be like?

If you have no way to evaluate where you are now, and no way to define where you want to go, it’s unlikely you’re going to get “there” (wherever “there” is.)

Kind of like going on a road trip with no map and no destination – might be fun, but you can’t be mad if you don’t end up anywhere new 😉

    34 replies to "Soloing Levels For Knowing What To Practice"

    • Ernie

      I have the 5 minor pentatonic scales down pretty good but I’m weak at playing licks. I can noodle in key very well between different boxes when playing against a backing track though. Mixing the 1st minor scale with the 2nd major scale when playing over the 1 chord doesn’t seem like it will be to difficult. I am slugging my way through BGU and am now looking forward to the section that covers this…

    • Abe Haddad

      Nice breakdown of fretboard ergonomics, really good explanation of the levels of mental gymnastics required to acquire and retain new ways of tackling soloing 👍👍👍🎸

    • Peter

      You may not know it, but you just put out one of the most important lessons on YouTube. I am 68 years old, a guitar plodder for too long, and you have now put soloing into a simple perspective that all can understand. Congratulations.

    • Bart

      Great lesson! I used Box 1 and the House Pattern of Box 2 the whole time I was playing in bands during the Garage Band Era of the ‘60s. To add a little variety, I’d go up the neck to Box 1 an octave higher. I had no idea that was called the “Minor Pentatonic Scale.” I wish I had known back then half of what Griff has taught me since I found him in cyberspace a few years ago.

    • Ernie

      This was exactly what I needed to identify where I was and what I need to work on to move forward and evaluate my progress.

    • Mike Krol (Gunrunner on the BGU board)

      Griff, outstanding video, one of your best! Please, please, please put together a course on Every Chord is I (aka level 3). I have nearly all of your courses, and you touch on this at the end of Slow Blues Supplement (one of my favorites), but I think an entire course devoted to this and how one nails the right boxes for each key all over the neck would be extremely helpful for many of us.

      • Dan

        One very simple and easy way to play a “every chord is a I” (aka level 3) is to find a good lick or phrase for the I chord. Then on the IV play that same lick, but up 5 frets, then on the V, play it up 7 frets.

        The level one approach to this level 3 soloing, is to play the exact same lick (up 5 and 7 frets) on the I, IV and V chords. That’s a good way to approach level 3 soloing IMHO. You can do it with a lick entirely in the minor pentatonic (level 1 soloing), or with a lick mixing major and minor pentatonic (typically just one or two notes from the major pentatonic, and a level 2 soloing). Once you’re doing that well, then you’re ready to make improvisational changes (assuming you can improvise – if not, learn Griff’s 4 note solo which got me improvising).

        • Ernie

          I have the 5 minor pentatonic scales down pretty good but I’m weak at playing licks. I can noodle in key very well between different boxes when playing against a backing track though. Mixing the 1st minor scale with the 2nd major scale when playing over the 1 chord doesn’t seem like it will be to difficult. I am slugging my way through BGU and am now looking forward to the section that covers this…

          • Ernie

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to post this comment as a reply!

    • Mike

      Where do arpeggios fit in the Levels? I’m thinking “level 3”, and I’m also thinking “all of them”.

      • Dan

        I love arpeggios, but I don’t see them as level 1, because they often use notes not in the minor pentatonic. I don’t know for sure, but it seems to me often arpeggio notes fit in the major pentatonic but sometimes not. I’d like to understand this better. I’d guess it’s covered in theory, but blues doesn’t always follow the rules, which is why IDK.

    • Alessandro

      Great video as usual!
      What course do you suggest in your catalogue to take me from Level 1 to Level 2? Thanks

    • Scott R

      Terrific overview, and a great model to understand soloing…
      Based on your model, i’d rate myself as a “B+” Level I and about “C” Level II. I now need to spend some time thinking about the gaps I’ve got in Level I. And how to close them.
      Perhaps a next step is to map some of your soloing courses to this framework? Which as Cowboy said, might be the makings of another course… where some of your materials are re-bundled to match this method.
      Like was said earlier, I’ve got a lot of your courses, and it can be a bit overwhelming to find the right place for a deep dive. But this helps!
      Thanks for laying it out this way…. this is a great explanation of soloing…and a guide of where and how to improve.

    • John Thomas

      I’m 60 years old and have never found anyone on this planet that is teaching this topic of blues/lead guitar. Other advanced players/teachers dance around this topic but never zero in on the digestible details that you have outlined (and that guitar players like me need). Thank you. I’m hungry for more and will continue my journey.

    • John Gelbart

      Great informative video Griff. Certainly puts things in place. Just reiterates “the more I learn, the less I know”, but now I have a clearer picture of what lies ahead in my journey and what my options are.
      Regards, John-G

    • Jack Zukowski

      Excellent addition to my thinking and to looking forward Griff! You are such a great teacher, and always add something to make my playing better. I will probably never be a great hot shot player but following you has made me a so much better player and also enjoying my guitars so much more. Thanks for all you do!


    • Bob Eisenberg

      An excellent video, Mr. Hamlin! Thank you very much! Very helpful to provide focus for future work. Much to do. Much to do.

    • Marek

      Thank you Griff, Fantastic information.
      I got your Course full of wonderful lessons. It has helped me a lot in my guitar playing. Your instruction is super cool. Planning ahead is a great point and I follow that. No rushing just making it perfect, relentlessly like BB King’s solos.
      I use D’Addario 11/50 Chromes on my Gibson Les Paul to get this special sound echoing an idling 50’s Corvette…
      Thank you again

    • Dave G

      Hey Griff, This “ road map” video was great! I feel refocused and re-energized.

    • John Ludwig

      Tell me about the strings your using. I have a Fender Mustang and what I have on there seems stiffer than what it looks like your using.

      • Griff

        I use Ernie Ball 10-46 or 9-42… usually 10-46 (Regular Slinky).

        • John Ludwig

          Thanks for the tip.

    • Dave Delisio

      Griff, awesome video! Really helped me to know where I am at and where I need to go! This has been one of your best eye openers to open a whole new window to escalate my playing! Never have heard anyone make this so clear and easy to understand!!
      Boise, Idaho

    • John

      I learned to play blues solos by purchasing Griff’s Easy Blues Solos DVD and then listening to the solos one at a time until I could remember all of the notes. Then I followed Griff in the video a section at a time until I could play all of the notes. Then I practiced each solo until I could play them by memory without making errors. Then I used my iPhone to record my playing and I discovered pieces of my playing that I could improve. Then I began to embellish them by adding my own notes or by playing different Parts of them at different speeds and kind of made them I to my own solos. Recording your playing, listening to yourself and correcting the little errors is probably the best way to improve your playing.

      • Griff


    • cowboy

      this is a great explanation of soloing…and a guide of how to improve…I really took some time to think about where I am and where I want to go to…this will be a big part of my “plan”…thanks again and be safe til we meet up down the road…later.


      • cowboy

        possible next course?

    • Michael James Adkison

      Hi Griff,

      Great suggestions! My guitar playing is a bit too discombobulated. I’m a singer guitarist in a classic rock band playing mostly rhythm. I enjoy playing lIcks very much, but have limited skills. I leave it to my lead guitarist during our performances. As a kid, I started out learning from Mel Bay music books— reading basic notes and playing simple songs. Fast forward to today, I’m still yearning to become a better guitarist, but have to say I’m a bit lost. Instead of being spread to thin in my learning materials, I’m spread way too wide. I have your Classic Rock Guitar Unleashed; Classic Rock Speed Builders; and Lessons From The Masters. In addition, I keep purchasing a myriad of other study courses and keep noodling back and fourth among them, including a variety of YouTube lessons. However, my guitar playing skills haven’t seen great improvement. It’s seeming more obvious to me with my limited time, I do more of scanning the material rather than drilling down deep for learning. I need a better roadmap for learning rather than noodling around the world all the time.

    • NedBeatySquealed

      One of your best! Thank you. I play in open tuning (slide). Are there “boxes” in open or just in standard?

    • Blair Barbour


      I am a big fan and have a lot of your courses…how about a dedicated Level 4 course (and a Level 3 as well)…all the best!


    • Tony

      Thanks Griff,

      Helpful as always.

    • Heri Sanchez

      I’ve been monotonously stuck in a Level One rut ( for a year!) This is, exactly, the direction I was looking for, and the advice I needed, to continue to advance through the ‘sub-levels’ and arrive at Level Two. Now, it’s back to work on the rest of the scales! Thanks, Griff

    • Mark

      What a great video! Very clear. It’s wonderful to have a metric to gauge the levels. It’s given me a great idea on how to move forward. Thank you!

    • Rick Hammond


      Love these well-thought out lessons and your perspective on playing and improving. I purchased the Rythm package a few years back and benefitted greatly from that. I mostly play country and gospel in nursing centers(prior to COVID) but I’ve always liked the simplicity of 1-4-5 blues. Great job. Keep them coming!

      Stay well

      Rick in SC

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