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FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Soloing Through Changes in Country & Rockabilly

Contributing Member


May 15th, 2016 08:40 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I find that soloing (with some improv) through changes when playing country and rockabilly can be tricky because sometimes you have to THINK about the chord progression when you solo.

Switching between major and minor scales can makes this even more complicated, at least if you're also the lead singer in the band and have a lot on your plate.

OF COURSE practice, practice, practice will take care of this I guess. (:oD

Tyrone Shuz


I'm all in!
May 15th, 2016 10:50 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Sounds to me like you need to woodshed a WHOLE lotta blues, because that's basically what rockabilly is--at least the "troublesome" progressions.

If you're a rocker playing a lot of Am F G type tunes blues or rockabilly can throw you because it's not one scale.

But even an Am F G type progression can be treated chord by chord even if you don't leave the scale. If you get used to trying to make all the changes all the time, it's not so bad.

My goal has always been (with rare exception) to make a solo that would state the changes to the point of being able to interpret them without any harmony present.

Start with 2-chord tunes--Iko Iko, or Jambalaya, or C'est La Vie, all I-V tunes--put the rhythm on your looper and practice, then take the looper away and just use a metronome or your right foot.

When you get used to that, do a three chord tune, and increase as your comfort level increases.

Contributing Member


May 15th, 2016 11:10 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Tyrone - I don't think the blues and rockabilly are that similar really. I certainly don't play blues and rockabilly (or country) the same. You don't HAVE to play through the changes in the blues.

Listen this rockabilly song off my band's album, particularly the lead parts. I have to try to fit as much of this I can into the song live AND sing. And I wrote the song.

If you think this sounds dead easy then oh well.


Tyrone Shuz


I'm all in!
May 15th, 2016 01:12 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

You made it sound easy, nice job!

As for differences, of course there are, but harmonically they aren't. There will certainly be differences in phrasing, rhythm, dynamics, etc, but the available "good" notes are almost identical, and I say almost just to hedge my bets a bit.

That tune (I like it!) is a gospel tune, with a few little breaks thrown in. I thought it was a cover of an old tune, so that's a good sign. But it's the same chord progression as The Jeffersons theme, Honky Tonk Women, and a bunch of others. You could make it a shuffle and turn it into a blues tune. You could do a root-5 bass with a country strum and it's a country tune.

You will vary the degrees of aggression in your playing and tone, but the notes won't be too much different. You may skew the notes one way or another, but they'll come from the same bag.

Soloing over changes became my way of life pretty early, as I always tried to take advice from the better players, or stuff I'd read from pros, and eventually instructors (I didn't start taking lessons till after I was a pro).

There's nothing wrong with "easy" btw--you want to play to the tune, and you did exactly that. I play regularly with this blues band now (we take it out a little, but we do a lot of shuffles) and I know certain tunes are gonna wow the audience, but many of them I just can't, because it's inappropriate. I also get a LOT of solos, almost too many, so I have to be creative, and the solos that often get the best reaction aren't always the best pieces of music I made that night.

Welcome to the world of walking the tightrope w/o a net! Jazz, blues, rockabilly, and a lot of country is like this (also r/b, funk, cajun, etc). This is organic music that should be alive, and a LOT of unplanned stuff should happen.

Once you get used to it, you will bristle at having to play pre-fab parts in the future. I play so much improvised stuff I don't mind some pre-fab, it gives me a mental break. But I'd hate to play pre-arranged parts all night long, unless it paid REALLY well!

You'll find that you'll work a few (or more) solos out, and that's great it gives you something solid to play. But if you do that enough, you'll get used to the sounds, and be able to solo like that on the fly every time.

It's intimidating at first, but you will get used to it. And it becomes /really/ fun when you make a solo that sounds worked out, but in fact was not. In a rock context, David Gilmour plays like this. His solos sound worked out, but most of them are not. And he knows about chord content, he solos over the changes all the time.

Your solos above sound, for the most part, worked out, which is good, whether you worked 'em out or not. I'm guessing you had a few ideas as a "shell" and went from there.

I'd go see your band!

Contributing Member


May 15th, 2016 03:01 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Tyrone - We're transitioning into what I call a "Gospelbilly" band. There will me more rockabilly, gospel, blues rock and alt country on the next one.

GBMD is the song that I can get lost on live. As you suggest, I'm going to learn my solos off the album pretty much note for note so I don't keep having this problem. Duh! The faux steel guitar parts are often where I run off course. (:oD



Sep 21st, 2016 06:50 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

ROFL transitioning into a Grateful Dead genere band from blues and rock and it can be all about playing through the changes over some unusal progressions to say the least.

And a blast when you get it right!

Contributing Member


Jun 18th, 2018 05:32 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Hey Mr 5Strat

How are those gospelbilly tunes going ?

Have you posted any examples ?

GBMD is a good song.

Contributing Member

Ooo that sandwich

is gonna get et
Jun 18th, 2018 06:40 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

He's posted links to a few here.

FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Soloing Through Changes in Country & Rockabilly

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