Soloing over a 12-bar blues chord progression is a great way to gain confidence as a guitar player; and it isn't some kind of mystical secret that beginners can't enjoy. We're going to show you some go-to licks for building up your solos in the minor pentatonic scale – the go-to for many players.
Start with minor pentatonic scale shape
The minor pentatonic scale is a fantastic scale to jam over a 12-bar blues with, but by adding a few more notes you can infuse your blues with the slick sounds of virtuoso blues-meisters such as Joe Bonamassa, Robben Ford and more.
Practise the basic minor pentatonic scale first (black dots are root notes; red dots are other scale notes). When you get a feel for this, try adding in the extra non-scale notes that we’ve highlighted in green.
This lick is played over an A7 chord. Solos tend to sound much better if you can land on a note from the backing chords, so, in this case, we’re adding a 6th fret C# note from the A7 – all the rest of the notes come from the minor pentatonic scale
The change (IV chord)
Although the chord has changed to D7 here, the A minor pentatonic notes all still work. Make a feature of the chord change by adding the major 6 interval, which is on the 4th fret of the fourth string. This is a fantastic note to add
The peak (V chord)
The V chord is the point at which the 12-bar blues is at it’s most tense, so why not make the most of the tension and make the solo even more dramatic? The b5th interval sounds great over a 12-bar blues, especially if you save it for the V chord.
The final two bars of a 12-bar blues are known as a ‘turnaround’. This is the point that we prepare to go back to the start of the loop and start the next phase of the solo. Most blues players have a collection of ‘turnaround’ licks that round off their solos.