Beyond Blues

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Learn how to solo effortlessly using the CAGED system.



  • Learn how to map out the neck with five CAGED shapes.
  • Create melodic lines by targeting chord tones on strong beats.
  • Discover how to enhance your phrases with chromatic notes.
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Originally published on March 15, 2015

The CAGED system is a subject we’ve explored many times before in Beyond Blues, and as you may know, it plays a big role in the way I teach. If you need a quick refresher, or if you’re totally new to the CAGED concept, read “A Guitarist’s Guide to the CAGED System." This CAGED approach doesn’t often generate resistance, but when it does, I usually find that it’s because of a misunderstanding of the system—there’s a lot more to it than just barre chords. While we’ve discussed arpeggios and scale fingerings several times over the years, this lesson will finally bridge the gap between those two.

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Fishing around for some new ideas to enhance your blues licks? Check out this step-by-step approach that covers everything from guide tones to scales.



• Learn all about guide tones.

• Apply simple theoretical concepts to give your blues playing more harmonic definition.

• Build on the supplied harmonic and rhythmic examples to hot-rod your own solos.

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It’s easy to just live inside a single pentatonic or blues scale over an entire 12-bar progression, but how hip is it when you hear players really get inside those chord changes? In this lesson we’ll explore some simple techniques that will allow you to create solos that lead the ear through the progression. The goal? To be able to take a cohesive solo that outlines the changes without another instrument providing the harmonic foundation.

Now, we aren’t immediately jumping into Joe Pass territory here. I want to share some techniques to build your confidence, so let’s start with just two notes to demonstrate how easy it is to outline the sound of a chord.

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Learn how to play everything from Britpop to blues and beyond.

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No need to fall back on those stock, tired blues licks.



  • Understand the basics of the blues scale.
  • Create angular lines by taking an intervallic approach.
  • Toss out all those B.B., Freddie, and Albert licks.
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We all get burned out playing the same scales, the same way, over and over. A common solution to that guitar-driven angst is to search out other scales, hoping to find a new muse. While learning new scales is an important part of your development as a player, you can often overlook some structures within a scale that you already know.

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