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Blog - Soloing over a one chord vamp

Let's be honest all guitarist love soloing over a great chord progression! Though occasionally we come across that old chestnut which is a one chord vamp, which limits the harmonic structure some what! Personally I have always found soloing over just a single chord tricky, because it forces you to really think about your approach to improvising and how you can make yourself sound as interesting as possible.

A great example of soloing over a one chord vamp is 'Superstition' by Stevie Wonder, though popularised by Stevie Ray Vaughan for more of a bluesy rock orientated feel. A stable for cover and function bands, there's a great opportunity at the end of the last verse to solo, improvise and / or shred at will!

The vamp is essentially a two bar riff over an Eb chord based in the key of Eb (though sometimes played / covered in E). Stevie Ray Vaughan solos for 30 bars (15 bars of the two bar vamp or 30 bars of an Eb chord depending on how to determine the vamp) before cueing the 4 bar outro progression. So 30 bars over is a great benchmark for soloing over a single chord.

The way to approach a progression like the is to focus on the 'Call & Response' technique where one plays a lick and response with another, almost like having a conversation with yourself. Check out Eddie Van Halen, Craig Ross and Duane Allman in my opinion they are master of this concept of improvising.

Whether improvising or writing a solo focus on having a purpose - a start, middle and end, building to a climax! Obviously a juicy chord progression will always help define your solo, so over a one chord vamp you will now have to focus on direction to make up for the lack of harmonic backing!

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