If you’ve been practising the ideas we looked at in my previous article How To Break Out Of the ‘Playing The Scale As A Solo’ Rut, you might be feeling a little bit restricted at this point, so here’s part 2.
In the second part of our look at soloing on two strings we’re going to look at a couple of combinations of two string patterns that you can join together and start to create more interest and variety in your solos.
Play An Octave Higher
The first little tip to create more interest in your solo whilst still using two strings, is to simply play the same stuff one octave higher.
In part one we played with the four notes on the fifth and seventh frets of the 3rd and 4th strings. To create some excitement we can do something all aspiring soloists want to do – to jump way up the neck!
Simply take the same 2 string shape and move it up the neck 12 frets. 12 frets on the guitar is an octave so we’re simply jumping up to where the pattern we’re playing reappears an octave higher.
That will be frets 17 and 19 of the 4th and 3rd strings when we’re playing in A minor pentatonic which we have been up to now.
Try playing a lick at frets 5 and 7. Now shift up to frets 17 and 19 and play exactly the same lick. Nice, huh?
All the same licks work an octave higher. All the bends are in the same place and all the hammer ons and slides work the same way.
Play Another 2-String Pattern
Another 2-string pattern in the same key sits on the 1st and 2nd strings at the 5th and 8th frets.
All our now familiar tricks work here too.
You can slide into either of the 5th fret notes.
You can slide into either of the 8th fret notes.
You can slide from either of the 5th fret notes to the 8th fret note on the same string.
You can slide down from either of the 8th fret notes back to the 5th fret note.
You can play both strings at the same time and slide up from 5 to 8, or down from 8 to 5.
You can hammer on from either of the 5th fret notes to the 8th fret note of the same string.
You can pull off from either of the 8th fret notes to the 5th fret note of the same string.
You can bend the notes at the 8th fret of either the 1st or 2nd strings
Repeating Lick for the Illusion of Speed
Do you remember the repeating lick on strings four and three?
You can do the same thing on strings 1 and 2.
Hammer the 2nd string from 5 to 8 and play 1 at the 5th fret. Keep repeating that 3-note pattern.
You can finish that repeating lick with a long-held band on the 1st string 8th fret
Begin To Add Back The 4th and 3rd Strings
Once you feel really comfortable with improvising using the top 2 strings, try beginning to mix them with the 4th and 3rd string patterns that you’ve already learnt.
Watch out for it beginning to get ‘scaly’ again. The moment that happens, go back again to the 4th and 3rd strings and play your licks.
A New 4-Note Box Pattern
Once you’re comfortable with that 2-string pattern, add this little box to the end of the
pattern you just played.
That’s the 8th and 10th frets of the 1st and 2nd strings.
First of all, practice soloing using these four notes.
The note that you’ll find your phrases want to land on in the minor key (A minor) is the second string 10th fret.
In the major key (C major), the same sense of completion will arrive at the 8th fret, 2nd string.
Again, use your guitar solo techniques that we explored in part 1.
The repeating lick here will work by hammering on 8 to 10 of the second string and then playing first string at the 8th fret.
Try mixing repeating licks. Play this one followed immediately by a repeating lick you’ve already learnt from one of the other 2-string patterns.
Try adding a pull off from 10 to 8 on the first string.
You can bend the first string at the tenth fret a full step.
And you can bend the second string at the 10th fret – BUT – you
need to bend it a step and a half until it sounds the same pitch as the 2nd string 13th fret.
If you’ve never done that before, it’ll feel like you’re going to break the string, but you won’t, honest.
When you can incorporate a bend like that into your solo, you’re channelling your inner Dave Gilmour.
Try using more than just two fingers to push up.
I let the middle finger drop in on the in-between fret (9) just to give more leverage with the fretting hand.
Putting It All Together
Hopefully you now have a decent selection of licks, using all three 2-string patterns, and you can put them together in a way that creates a real solo.
Now try putting it all together so that the stitching doesn’t show.
Sliding between pattern shapes helps here.
You have your two 1st and 2nd string patterns but up to now we’ve viewed them as separate.
Slides are the way you’re going to join them.
Play a lick out of the 5th and 8th fret pattern that ends on one of the 8th fret notes, but slide it immediately to the 10th fret of the same string and go straight into a lick from the 8th and 10th fret pattern.
Here’s a join I haven’t given you before.
From the 3rd string 7th fret (the first pattern we looked at), you can slide to the 9th fret. If you use your middle finger you’re in the perfect place to drop the index on 2nd string at 8 and the ring finger on the 2nd string at 10. Another seamless join.
You Got Rhythm
A habit that many beginner soloers make is to start every lick on the first beat of the bar.
In your practice with a jam track, take each lick you play and start it on a different beat in the bar. Include the ‘ands’.
So, start it on the ‘and’ of 1.
Now start the same lick on the 2.
Now on the ‘and’ of 2.
Now the 3.
And so on. You get the idea.
Listen to just how different a lick can sound when it’s displaced within the bar.
All over the guitar neck there are little two string patterns that you can jump into and out of.
I’ve shown you a few to get you started. In the end we can connect the whole neck of the guitar in this way.
It’s another way to think of the fretboard in place of scale patterns. Think of these as ‘lick patterns’.
Take a look at the video I’ve made
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.