Practice Track: Am D9 Funk

Here is a practice track for those wanting to polish up their soloing over a funk style A minor groove. The place to start with soloing over this groove, which alternates between Am7 and D9 is the A minor pentatonic scale. There are six fingerings of the A minor pentatonic scale which cover the entire fretboard. Practice in each of the fingerings until you know them all well, then practice going between pairs of fingerings, until you can play anywhere on the neck of the guitar!

Here are the six fingering patterns – notice that the first is identical to the sixth after making adjustment for the open strings.

The minor pentatonic approach is however just the beginning of what you can do. You can also try A natural and Dorian minor scales. Since Am and D7 are the ii and V chords of the G major scale, you can also use the G major scale.  Try working off  the A minor seventh and D7 or D9 arpeggios. You might also like to experiment with the B minor pentatonic scale and the E minor pentatonic scale, as both of these scales contain only notes from the G major scale. As always, let your ear be the judge!

Here is the practice track:

Practice track Am7-D9 funk groove


Practice Track: C major I-vi-II7-V7

This practice track is done in an Indie Rock style. The rhythm section is composed of drums, bass, and rhythm guitar, with a tenor guitar line that is similar to the bass part, but an octave higher, and playing on all the beats.

The progression replaces the diatonic D minor chord which fits with the C major scale, with a dominant seventh chord, the D7. This substitution is a common one in Jazz and swing tunes, and gives the progression a stronger blues flavour than would otherwise be the case.

(1) The simplest approach to soloing is to play in C major throughout, being careful to avoid F over the D7, which would clash with its F#.

(2) A more sophisticated approach  is to play in C major, changing to D mixolydian (G major) for the D7 chord. One can then outline the chromatic decent from F# in the D7 chord, to F in the G7 chord, then E in the C major chord, to effectively emphasise the changing harmony.

(3) Another approach is to play exclusively in the A minor pentatonic scale (C major pentatonic), using bends to reach chord tones. E.g. over the D7 chord bend from E (in the A minor pentatonic scale) up one tone to F# (chord tone in D7); also bend from G up a tone to A (chord tone in D7, and also in A minor pentatonic scale). Likewise over the G7 chord, bend from A (A minor pentatonic) up a tone to B (chord tone in G7), bend from E (A minor pentatonic) up a semitone to F (chord tone in G7). There are four such bends for each of the four tones in each chord, however some of them will finish on chord tones outside the A minor pentatonic, others will  end on chord tones included in the A minor pentatonic.

It turns out that the melody for the children’s nursery rhyme “Have you seen the Muffin Man” can be played over this progression, an example of approach (1). Below are examples of the three approaches outlined above:

Lead approach (1)

Lead approach (2)

Lead approach (3)

Now, try your own:

Practice track with no lead

Have fun!

Practice Track: F major ii-V-I

This practice track is done in a light rock style, and is great for practicing soloing using the F major scale. The chords are

||:F                |Gm               |C7                 |F            :||

Other approaches to soloing (besides the F major scale) you can use are (i) F major (D minor) pentatonic scale (ii) F major pentatonic for the F chord, followed by G minor Pentatonic for the G minor and C7 chords, (iii) A minor pentatonic for the F chord followed by G minor pentatonic for the Gm and C7, (iv) F major, G minor and C7 Arpeggios with passing notes from the F major scale. Any combination of the preceding of course will also work!

All the above approaches are really just using the F major scale, but give different selections of notes which help create different sounds. Using the pentatonic scales is cool because it allows you to make use of a well known scale, and get maximum value from fingering and scale shapes that you might already know well.

So download the practice track below, and start having some fun!

Free Mp3 Download: F major II-V-I practice track.


Practice Track: C major folk rock

This is a practice track for beginning and intermediate players to play along with. It is in a basic folk rock style, but can be used by people interested in country or rock as well. You can use the track in several ways.

The chords are

||: C              |                  |G                |                 : ||

Firstly, try and strum along to the rhythm guitar, and secondly, practice playing your own solos over the rhythm track. The rhythm guitar is panned a little to the left, with a second guitar strumming a chord every two bars panned just to the right. There are two basic rhythms, with occasional variations. For the first 16 bars, the strum used is predominantly:

The strum then changes to the following for 16 bars:

The two strums then alternate each 16 bars. Note that palm muting is used to stop the strings from ringing out excessively!

The second way you can use this practice track is to practice your soloing. Use the C major scale as your starting point. This will give a basic folk rock sound. Introducing a Bb over the C chord will generate a more bluesy sound (the b7). The blues sound can be further enhanced by introducing an Eb (the b3) which can be bent partly or all the way to an E. You may also like to experiment with the C and G major pentatonic scales, over the C and G chords respectively, which will give a more country sound. Then try the C minor pentatonic scale, which will give a harder rock or blues sound.

Free MP3 Download: C&G7 practice track

Have fun!

Practice Track: E Minor Pentatonic

One of the songs I teach my beginning students is known affectionately as “Em Pentatonic on the First Two strings”. It uses only four notes, B, D, E and G, and three simple two finger chords, Em, G6 and Amin9 (really A5 add2). Here I have recorded the tune with the melody, and also without the melody so that you can (1) practice playing the melody yourself, and (2) practice making up your own tune (improvising) using the notes B,D, E and G from the E minor pentatonic scale. Of course if you know the entire E minor pentatonic scale, feel free to use it!

Here it is with the melody. Try and play along, reading the melody from your music (the music is printed in Rob’s Guitar Method, Book 1, on page 16).

Em pentatonic practice track – with melody.

When you have played along with the recorded melody above, try the next MP3, which has only the accompaniment. Try to play the melody along with the accompaniment. Then try making up your own tune using notes from the E minor pentatonic scale!

Em pentatonic practice track – no melody.

Have fun!

Improvising against IV and V chords

In some pop and rock songs, there are passages of music where there are major chords two frets (a tone) apart, such as D and E or F and G. To improvise over these passages, one approach is to recognize that these chords are the IV and V chords of a major scale. For example D and E are the IV and V chords of the A major scale, so an A major scale will work over this passage. Likewise, F and G are the IV and V chords of a C major scale, so use a C major scale to solo over a passage of F and G chords.

Here are some practice tracks to try over passages of IV and V chords:

Example 1: D and E chords (2 bars each): Free MP3 Download

Example 2: F and G chords (2 bars each): Free MP3 Download

If you listen to Pearl Jam’s Better Man, you will hear just such sections as these! Have fun!


Practice Track: Indie Rock

Here is a practice track which I have done in an Indie Rock style, to show that simple things can be very effective. It is suitable for guitarists and bass players of beginning to intermediate level. The chord progression is a very common one in lots of songs, involving the chords C, G, Am and F:To solo over the progression, first recognize that the progression is in the key of C major. So use the notes from the C major scale. One concept that you can use is to hit the first beat of every two bar group with a sustained note from the chord. That way you accentuate the harmony and sound “in control” of the progression. C chord: C, E, or G. G chord: G, B, or D. Am chord: A, C, or E. F chord: F, A, or C. To add interest, follow the strong note with some linking scale tones that lead to the next strong chordal note at the change of chord. Add interest by hitting the chordal note more than once, in different rhythms, to more strongly emphasize it. Interest and emphasis can also be added by first hitting the tone above or below the chord note, and quickly moving to the chord note. Another idea is to follow the first chord tone by another chord tone, thus doubly emphasizing the harmony.All these ideas can be heard in the following track including my solo (try to play along with me):


To practice your own solo, here is the track without the lead guitar:


Have fun!

Practice Track: G minor groove

This practice track is suitable for intermediate guitar players interested in rock, funk and blues grooves, and is especially good for practicing the G minor pentatonic scale. A distinctive feature of blues and blues derived styles is the use of the bend: try to get some bends happening on the b3rd (Bb), the 4th (C) and b7th (F). Use your ear and bend till it sounds good! There are just two chords, Gm7 and C9:Two Bars Gm7 and 2 bars C9Here is the practice track, with just drums and guitar. Use it for practicing lead guitar or bass.

Gm7-C9_groove_Rhythm Guitar_Drums

After playing with the above track, try the following track, which adds a bass line. How does this change what you play?

Gm7-C9_groove_Bass_Rhythm Guitar_Drums

Finally you may care to listen to the following version, which adds a lead guitar riff. Practice playing in the ‘gaps’ left by the riff, or try to play the riff or a harmony line. The riff drops away after 16 bars, leaving you 16 bars to play on your own, then comes back for16 bars. Once again, how does this change what you play?

Gm7-C9_groove_Riff_Bass_Rhythm Guitar_Drums

Have fun!


Practice Track: Am7&E7

This practice track is suitable for beginning and intermediate guitar and bass players, in a funk – rock style. Here is the chord chart:2 bars of A minor and 2 bars of E seventhThere are many ways to tackle playing over the progression, here are a few suggestions for Guitarists. 

  1. Am blues scale
  2. A natural minor over Am,  and A harmonic minor over E7
  3. A natural minor over Am, and E Myxolydian (A major) over E7
  4. Am pentatonic or blues scale over Am, and Bm pentatonic over E7

For bass players:

  1. Use tonics and octaves for each chord
  2. Use 1 and flat 7 for each chord (G&A for Am7), (D&E for E7)
  3. Use 1, flat 7 and 5 for each chord (A,G,E for Am7), (B,D,E for E7)
  4. Am pentatonic scale
  5. Am pentatonic for Am7; Bm Pentatonic for E7
  6. Am7 arpeggio for Am7; E7 arpeggio for E7
  7. As 3, but add passing notes from A natural minor (Am7) or A harmonic minor (E7) 

You can play the track from the following link:


Have fun!

Practice Track: Em Pentatonic on First Two Strings

This tune is great fun to play, and sounds good played in many different ways, from fast to slow. Most of my beginning students will spend some time on this tune, as it is a great introduction to jammimg and improvisation using the pentatonic scale, the foundation of much rock and roll, blues and jazz playing. There are only four notes in the tune, so it is perfect to learn for those in the first stages of learning. Listen to my track with the recorded melody, and try to play along as you read the music. Then try to play the melody using the track without the melody recorded. Then practice making up your own tunes, using the same four notes, or adding other notes from the E minor pentatonic scale.

Em Pentatonic on First Two Strings – with Melody

Em Pentatonic on First Two Strings – just chords