In Part 5 of our guide to soloing over everything, we look at the contents of a very useful key indeed: A Major (F# Minor). The keys we’ve looked at so far work well on guitar and your improvisation and chord abilities will take a giant leap forward just by knowing something as simple as what chords are in what keys – something which a lot of (advanced) players still haven’t bothered to learn.
Here are the three patterns you’ll need to learn A Major over most of the neck. Remember that these are generic patterns, so don’t resolve them to A all the time – any note can be the root or ‘home’ note.
If you’ve already gotten the four previous keys under your belt, you should be VERY familiar with these patterns now and at the point where you’re able to move around inside the larger pattern, rather than staying exclusively in the three patterns above. If you’ve hit a rut with these patterns, check out this article which will show you how to approach a 3NPS pattern. Make sure you’re forcing your fretting hand to move in all directions – vertically up and down, horizontally back and forth, and even diagonally.
Here are the chords you can use these patterns over. Remember if you have a vamp or a random major or minor chord from this set, you can play over them with the above patterns, or any pattern you know that contains the chord. For example, over a B Minor chord or vamp you can play either these patterns, the G Major patterns, or the D Major patterns. If the chords in your progression all belong to this key, you can wail over them to your heart’s content with the above patterns.
You may have noticed that I refer to these patterns as generic. This is because I don’t want you to relate all the other notes in the pattern to the root note (in red) – this is just to identify the scale, or if someone says, ‘This tune is in F Major’, you’ll know what patterns to use to improvise, as well as the chords that are in the tune.
At this point, I’d suggest incorporating the following into your practice routine:
Play a chord from the wheel (or loop it), then run the scale pattern or just improvise if you already know it. Do this for each of the chords in the key so that you can hear how each note sounds against the various chords.
In Part 6, we'll look at the key of E Major.