Monday, May 25, 2009

Closed position movable solos

Here is an example of a great little closed position solo, in this case in the key of C. The wonderful thing about these is you can play them in just about any key by moving them around, so it's really well worth putting in the effort to learn to play a number of these really fast, and to develop licks to embellish them.

Keeping this solo on the same strings but moving it up or down by one or two frets you can play in keys Bb through D. By transferring it to the next set of strings down you can play in E through A.

When I first started playing on stage, that was pretty much how I played every tune. It's surprising how often I hear something that sounds very cool and new on a recording, and when I start to transcribe it I find it's built out of this position.

The example below is from Wanda Vick's charming album "Bluegrass Hymns". It's about 19 bluegrass gospel standards but with no singing, just instrumental breaks, and I think Wanda plays all the instruments. Her fiddle playing is fabulous, and the rich variety of mandolin breaks is very instructive. She also has a perfect chop. This is played over the verse of "Shouting On The Hills of Glory".

Notice how in bar 6 and 7 when going to the G chord, she uses what I suspect is (and play as) a 2nd finger bar at the fifth fret over the 2nd and 3rd strings, and then comes out of it with a slide - a great little move. For the last 2 bars you'll want to back up with your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret.

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