Soloing from Scratch, Vol. 2

Three simple steps to improvising on the blues in drop D tuning

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Soloing  From Scratch

Three simple steps to start improvising on the blues
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The missing piece of the puzzle

For some reason, even if you can comfortably work out fingerstyle tunes from tab or have a repertoire of songs you can already play, actually soloing – making things up from scratch – can remain elusive. Even if you know the right scales or a handful of licks, that doesn't always translate into knowing what to play or how to sound good. Soloing from Scratch will show you how to bridge the gap from playing by rote to adding improvised licks into your tunes. While the first Soloing From Scratch workshop dealt with steady bass blues in E, in Soloing From Scratch, Volume 2 we'll focus on alternating-thumb blues in drop D tuning.

A Three-Step Method to Start Improvising 

Learn How Solos Are Put Together

Solos are built out of licks and phrases. Looking at sample solos and how they're put together gives you something to model your own solos on.

Build Your Vocabulary

Master the syncopated rhythms and right-hand coordination you need to create all the licks you need from the blues scale

Have a Roadmap in your Head

Whether you're playing a 24-bar blues or a one-chord vamp, you can leverage the form of the tune to give your solos shape and momentum

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Improvising Shouldn't Feel Mysterious

Learning to play your own fingerstyle blues solos does take time and practice, but what to work on and how to get there shouldn't be a big mystery or take the rest of your life to accomplish. Every month in my Fingerstyle Five membership I break down exactly how to improvise on classic tunes like "Stagolee," "Crow Jane," "I Shall Not Be Moved" and "Crow Black Chicken." Now I've distilled those ideas down to the essentials, and in this workshop I'll show you the exact rhythms you need to turn scales into licks, the best way to practice your new vocabulary, and how to put those licks together in the most musical, intuitive way possible.

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Use the secure form below to sign up for and attend the live online workshop (or watch the replay later)

Take The Workshop

Learn how to master essential right-hand rhythms, create your own blues licks, and practice building your own solos

Start Playing Fingerstyle Solos

Watch the replay for the next two weeks, organize your practice plan, and start creating your own solos

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Learn to create your own fingerstyle blues solos

“How do I sit down with my guitar and just play?” is probably the number one question most people have when it comes to fingerstyle blues. (Well, maybe number two, right after “How do I get this new triple-O into the house without anyone noticing?”) As satisfying as it is to finally master a set arrangement of a classic John Hurt or Merle Travis tune, you can reach a place where you want to do more than just play the same things the exact same way every time you sit down with your guitar.

But improvising, soloing, or “making it up as you go” can feel a lot more mysterious than the relatively straightforward task of learning an arrangement from tab. Learning scales often seems to result in, well, just being able to play scales. Learning individual licks can be fun, but doesn’t necessarily help you understand how to use them. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of standardized or organized explanation for how to start playing blues licks over an alternating bass.

There wasn’t anything like that when I was learning to play either, but that’s what I wanted to be able to do. Over time, I started combining the fingerstyle technique I could glean from solo fingerpickers like Dave Van Ronk and Stefan Grossman with the blues licks and solos I was hearing on B.B. King and Charlie Christian records. In Soloing From Scratch, I’ll show you my three essential practices for combining simple but classic-sounding drop-D blues licks with a rock-solid alternating-thumb groove.

Here’s how it works: sign up to attend the January 14 live stream in real time, or to watch the replay over the following two weeks. I’ll break down the three essential right-hand rhythms you need to know, show you how to create and practice a variety of open-position D blues licks, and explain how to use the classic call-and-response ABAC form to start building solos of your own. You’ll walk away knowing exactly how to start soloing over your own groove and what you need to practice to get there.

When it comes to getting that triple-O into the house, you're pretty much on your own,. But if you want a clear, step-by-step way to start playing your own solos, Soloing From Scratch Volume 2 can definitely help – just sign up below.

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Sign up now and get a free two-week trial membership to the Fingerstyle Five!

For the second time ever, we're offering a free two-week trial membership when you sign up for the Soloing From Scratch, Volume 2 workshop. Use your trial to watch unlimited replays of the workshop itself, explore over 50 hours of lessons on over thirty songs, and to expand your groove and vocabulary even further with the steady-bass exercises in Soloing From Scratch, Volume 1.

Or join the Fingerstyle Five today and get the Workshop included free as part of your membership

Fingerstyle Five members get new lessons every month, including regular in-depth live streams on Groove, Improvisation and Arranging. Join now and get ongoing access to both Soloing From Scratch workshops, along with November's month-long exploration of E blues licks, exercises and solos and much more.

Soloing From Scratch Vol. 2


With Two-Week Trial

Sign up now for Soloing From Scratch, and for the next two weeks, you can:

  • Access the workshop and watch the replay
  • Check out every lesson in the Fingerstyle Five
  • Explore over thirty traditional and original fingerstyle blues instrumentals
  • See if the membership content, repertoire and learning style is for you

The Fingerstyle Five


Join the Membership

Join the Fingerstyle Five now, and for the life of your membership, you can:

  • Access the Soloing From Scratch workshops and replays
  • Access every lesson in the Fingerstyle Five
  • Explore over thirty traditional and contemporary fingerstyle blues instrumentals
  • Take part in three live-streamed lesson/Q&A sessions a month
  • Take part in a community of over 600 fingerstyle guitarists from around the world
  • Get monthly exercises and strategies to organize your practicing and make more progress in less time
  • Learn new tunes
  • Turn them into complete songs
  • Learn to improvise