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8 Bar Blues - Key to the Highway, Part 5 (Improvising)

David Barrett Admin's picture

Improvising to a non-12 bar blues can be very challenging for new improvisers.

How experienced players do it is by using 1st Position Licks over the IV Chord and 3rd Position Licks over the V Chord (for more information on this idea visit Understanding Position Playing in the Lessons section of the site).

Another way to approach this is by studying each chord and making use of as many of the notes that match that chord as possible over that chord change. This is a safe way of playing, but can be challenging to come up with inspiring licks. This is an important study though, so don't skip this important step in development.

Lastly, you could just make a point to hit one note that matches that chord, on the downbeat of that chord change comes (commonly the root note), to "tip your hat" to that chord change and then improvise, not focusing so much on staying "in" that chord, but just playing a lick. This is pretty common, and can produce some nice results.