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The Guitar Player's Guide to Developing Creative Solos
Create Guitar Solos

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Product Code: 5870



The Guitar Player's Guide To Developing Creative Solos

In this new 260-page book Flatpicking Guitar Magazine editor Dan Miller presents three different approaches to learning how to develop creative, interesting, and tasteful melody-based solos on the acoustic guitar. After outlining the process of finding key, chords, and melody on the guitar by ear, the first approach to developing a solo uses a variety of guitar techniques to embellish and add to the melody. Each technique is taught using many song examples. The techniques­ start with the Carter style chord-melody technique and then add hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, bends, double stops, various chord strum patterns, bass runs, crosspicking, drone strings, tremolo, neighboring notes, and short scale runs.

The second approach that is presented is one based on theory and scales. Five different scale “colors” are addressed: the major pentatonic scale, the major scale, the major blues scale, the minor pentatonic scale, and the minor blues scale. For each scale a number of scale pattern exercises and song examples are given. Additionally, tips are provided regarding the use of melodic and vocal phrasing, limiting exercises, dynamics, and note articulation in creating a solo that fits the mood, groove, feel, and meaning of the song. Each scale is first presented by itself, through exercises and examples, so that the reader can get a feel for its unique “color.” Then these scales are combined to show how several scale colors can be used in the same solo. Next, the author shows how to combine the scale, or “theoretical approach,” with the technique approach of the first section of the book.

The final approach to developing a solo is the “intuitive approach.” In this section the author gives you a series of exercises that are designed to get you out of your analytical left brain and get into your intuitive, creative, and insightful right brain. This section will help you develop more feeling and emotion in your playing as you learn how to play from your “gut” instead of your analytical brain or memory.

Over 60 individual songs are presented as examples in this book. For each song, the song melody is given, and then an example arrangement is shown. For many songs, more than one arrangement is presented. The old folk song “John Henry” is used as the main example in each section of the book and for that song a total of 25 different arrangements are shown. Over 150 song arrangements are included in this book.

This book is not a book of song arrangements that are meant for you to learn, memorize, and perform by rote. This book is designed to teach you how to take any song melody and create your own arrangements based on that melody. Ultimately, the techniques, methods, and ideas that are presented in this book will not only enable you to create an endless number of interesting and tasteful melody-based arrangements and variations for any songs that you want to learn, they will also lead you to a high level of comfort with improvisation of any song melody.

Table of Contents

The Method


The Three Approaches

The Technical Approach

The Theoretical Approach

The Intuitive Approach

What About Licks

Speed, Accuracy, Fluidity, and Tone

Which Approach is Best?

A Note on the Song Selection in this Book

A Note on the Song Melodies Used in this Book

A Note on the Arrangements in this Book

A Note on the Recordings

Arranging Solos for Vocal Tunes: The Technical Approach

Step 1: Select a Song

Step 2 Find the Chord Progression

Step 3: Learn the Melody

Step 4: Simplify the Melody

Step 5: Create A Simple Arrangement

Step 6: Embellish The Simple Arrangement

Step One: Select a Song

Steps Two and Three: Find the Chords and Find the Melody

Muscle Memory

Song Suggestions and Tips to Get You Started

C Scales

“John Henry” (Melody in C, Upper Register)

G, D, and A Scales

“John Henry” (Melody in D, Higher Register)

“John Henry” (Melody in D, Lower Register)

“John Henry” (Melody in G)

“John Henry” (Melody in G, Up the Neck)

Step Four: Carter Style

“John Henry” (Basic Carter Style in C)

Step 4.5: Supercharge the Carter Style

“John Henry” (Basic Carter Style in G )

“John Henry” (Carter Style in G — Subdivide 1)

“John Henry” (Carter Style in G — Subdivide 2)

“John Henry” (Carter Style in G —Toggle 1)

“John Henry” (Carter Style in G — Toggle 2)

“John Henry” (Carter Style in G — Combined )

Step Five: Simplify the Melody

“John Henry” (Simplified Melody)

“John Henry” (Carter Style Arrangement from Simplified Melody)

“Will The Circle Be Unbroken” (Melody)

Use What You Already Know

“She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain” (Melody)

“She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain” (Carter Style with Hammer-Ons)

“John Henry” (Hammers, Pull-offs, and Slides)

“Lonesome Road Blues” (Carter Style with Hammer-ons)

“Lonesome Road Blues” (Carter Style with More Embellishments)

Using Bass Runs to Embellish the Melody

Using Alternate Strum Patterns to Embellish the Melody

“Jesse James” (Melody)

“Jesse James” (Carter Style Plus Bass Runs)

“Red River Valley” (Carter Style with Strum Variations)

“Old Joe Clark” (Melody)

“Old Joe Clark” (With Added Up Stroke Strumming)

The Waltz: 3/4 Time

Waltz Exercises

“Down in the Valley” (Carter Style)

“Down in the Valley” (Carter Style with Added Bass Runs)

“Amazing Grace”

Practice with Carter Style

“Jimmy Brown the Newsboy”

“Grandfather’s Clock”

“Old Spinning Wheel”

“Unclouded Day”

“Home Sweet Home”

“John Hardy”

“Buffalo Gals”

“Wildwood Flower”

“Cripple Creek”

“Banks of the Ohio”

“East Virginia Blues”

“Keep On The Sunny Side”

“Bury Me Beneath the Willow”

“Yellow Rose of Texas”

“Nine Pound Hammer”

“More Pretty Girls Than One”


“Twinkle, Twinkle Tremolo”

Tremolo Exercise

John Henry” Tremolo

“Worried Man Blues” Tremolo

“Bury Me Beneath the Willow” Tremolo

“John Henry” Spiced-up Tremolo using Neighboring Notes

“Boogie-Woogie Blues”

Double Stops

“Bile the Cabbage Down” Double Stops

Finding Double Stops in Chord Shapes

“John Henry” Double Stops

“Buffalo Gals” Double Stops

“Cripple Creek” Double Stops

“Wildwood Flower” Double Stops

“Worried Man Blues” Double Stops

“Streets of Loredo” Double Stops


Crosspicking Patterns

Crosspicking Exercise

“John Henry” Crosspicking

“Banks of the Ohio” Crosspicking

“Wildwood Flower” Crosspicking

“Home Sweet Home” Crosspicking

“Oh, Susanna” Crosspicking

Alternate Crosspicking Patterns

“John Henry” Combining Techniques 1

“John Henry” Combining Techniques 2

Basic Techniques Summary

Neighboring Notes, Scale Runs, and Drones

Clarence White Excerpt

“Salty Dog Blues”

Doc Watson Excerpts and Drone Strings

“She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain”

“Buffalo Gals”

“Wabash Cannonball”

“East Virginia Blues”

Licks and Soloing

C and G Licks

“Jimmy Brown the Newsboy”

“The Crawdad Song”

;“Nine Pound Hammer”

“Storms Are On The Ocean”

“More Pretty Girls Than One”

“Old Spinning Wheel”

Technique Approach Summary

Arranging Solos for Vocal Tunes: The Theoretical Approach

“John Henry” (1st Four Bars Using Various Scale Notes)

The Major Pentatonic Scale

“Tom Dooley” (Melody)

“Tom Dooley” (Major Pentatonic Scale)

“John Henry” (Major Pentatonic Scale)

Major Pentatonic Scale (G, C, D, F, and A)

G Major Pentatonic Folded Scale Exercises

“Long Journey Home” (Melody)

“Long Journey Home” (Major Pentatonic Scale)

“More Pretty Girls Than One” (Major Pentatonic Scale)

“My Home’s Across The Blueridge Mountains” (Melody)

“My Home’s Across The Blueridge Mountains” (Major Pentatonic Scale)

Changing Major Pentatonic Scales Over I-IV-V Progression

“Golden Slippers” (Melody)

“Golden Slippers” (Major Pentatonic Scale)

“More Pretty Girls Than One” (Mixed Arrangement)

“Lonesome Road Blues” (Major Pentatonic Scale)

Major Pentatonic Scale Summary

The Limiting Exercise

The Major Scale

G Major Scale

“John Henry” (Major Scale)

“Dig A Hole In The Meadow” (Melody)

“Dig A Hole In The Meadow” (Major Scale)

“Columbus Stockade” (Melody)

“Columbus Stockade” (Major Scale)

G Major Folded Scale Examples 1 & 2

“She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain” (Major Scale)

Waltz Time: “All The Good Times Are Past and Gone” (Melody)

“All The Good Times Are Past and Gone” (Major Scale)

Minor Key: “Little Sadie” (Melody)

“Little Sadie” (Major Scale)

Arrangement Tip: Working with Word and Melody Phrasing

Major Scale Summary

“Lonesome Road Blues” (Melody, First Eight Bars)

The Major Blues Scale

G Major Blues Scale

C, D, F, and A Major Blues Scales

“John Henry” Major Blues Scale

Major Blues Folded Scale

“East Virginia Blues” (Major Blues Scale)

“Roving Gambler” (Melody)

“Roving Gambler” (Major Blues Scales)

“Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow” (Melody)

“Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow” (Major Blues Scale)

“Frankie and Johnny” (Melody)

“Frankie and Johnny” (Major Blues Scale)

Minor Pentatonic Scale

G, C, D, A, E Minor Pentatonic Scales

Minor Pentatonic Folded Scale

“Nine Pound Hammer” (Minor Pentatonic Scale)

“Pretty Polly” (Melody)

“Pretty Polly” (Minor Pentatonic Scale)

“Reuben’s Train” (Melody)

“Reuben’s Train” (Minor Pentatonic Scale)

“Deep Elem Blues” (Melody)

“Deep Elem Blues” (Minor Pentatonic Scale)

The Minor Blues Scale

G Minor Blues Scale

C, D, A, and E Minor Blues Scales

Folded Minor Blues Scale

“John Henry” (Minor Blues Scale)

“Mama Don’t Allow” (Melody)

“Mama Don’t Allow” (Minor Blues Scale)

“Take This Hammer” (Melody)

“Take This Hammer” (Minor Blues Scale)

The Chromatic Scale

“Jesse James” (Using Chromatic Scale Bass Runs)

Mixing Up The Scales

“Long Journey Home” (Mixing Up The Scales)

“Wabash Cannonball” (Mixing Up The Scales)

“Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” (Melody)

“Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” (Mixing Up The Scales)

“Lonesome Road Blues” (Mixing Up The Scales)

“New River Train” (Melody)

“New River Train” (Mixing Up The Scales)

“Shady Grove” (Melody)

“Shady Grove” (Mixing Up The Scales)

“Blue Ridge Mountain Blues” (Melody)

“Blue Ridge Mountain Blues” (Mixing Up The Scales)

“I Am A Pilgrim” (Melody)

“I Am A Pilgrim” (Mixing Up The Scales)

“Sitting On Top of the World” (Melody)

“Sitting On Top of the World” (Mixing Up The Scales)

“Froggie Went ‘A Courtin’” (Melody)

“Froggie Went ‘A Courtin’” (Mixing Up The Scales)

The Theoretical Approach to Creating Solos: Summary

Combining the Technical and the Theoretical Approaches

“Sweet Sunny South” (Melody)

“Sweet Sunny South” (Solo)

“This Train” (Melody)

“This Train” (Solo)

“Wreck of the Old 97” (Melody)

“Wreck of the Old 97” (Solo)

“Old Dan Tucker” (Melody)

“Old Dan Tucker” (Solo)

“Home On The Range” (Melody)

“Home On The Range” (Solo)

“The Girl I Left Behind Me” (Melody)

“The Girl I Left Behind Me” (Solo)

“Arkansas Traveler” (Melody)

“Arkansas Traveler” (Carter Style)

“Arkansas Traveler” (Solo)

“Red Wing” (Melody)

“Red Wing” (Carter Style)

“Red Wing” (Solo)

Arranging Solos for Vocal Tunes: The Intuitive Approach


Left Brain vs. Right Brain

The Folkie and the Rocker

Learning to Play Intuitively

Visual Learning

Kinetic or Visualized Learning

Ear Training (Auditory Learning)

Intuitive Learning

Combined Learning

The Intuitive Approach to Soloing

Exercises to Build Intuitive Playing Skills

Exercise 1: Singing the Scale

Exercise 2: Random Playing

Exercise 3: Play a Feeling

Exercise 4: Tell A Story

Exercise 5: Follow A Form

Exercise 6: Follow A Scale

Exercise 7: Follow A Chord Progression

Exercise 8: Scat Singing the Exercises

Exercise 9: Scat Sing Your Arrangement

“John Henry” (Scat Solo)

Moving Towards Improvisation

Creating Solos Summary and The Road Ahead

About The Author

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