Tony Smotherman’s Power Ballad Soloing edition of Essentials will equip you with a rich palette of technical and harmonic tools for crafting epic and melodic power ballad solos. You’ll learn how to craft power ballad solos over a wide range of popular chord progressions and two-chord vamps. You’ll work with pedal points, double stops, huge bends, hard vibrato, sweeps, slides, chord tone targeting, and a variety of scales to achieve a distinctive vocal quality and create engaging solos.
”I've prepared 10 performance studies that focus on the techniques, creative approaches, and soloing skills that you’ll need command of to perform searing, inspiring power ballad solos. We'll focus on whole, half and unison bends, slides, arpeggiated lines, open string applications, and targeting specific scale tones to get a really memorable effect. We'll make use of double stops to add a chordal feel to break up the use of the scales. Most importantly, you'll learn to breathe musically -- when playing ballads, it's just as important to breathe between notes as it is in faster-paced solos.”
Tony’s 10 power ballad soloing studies cover the range of keys, feels, and chord progressions that are most common in power ballads. For each soloing study, Tony will first demonstrate the solo and then break it down for you note-by-note.
Exotic Tension - ”Exotic Tension makes use of a melodic chord progression common in many forms of classical music. These types of progressions are really great for creating memorable solos over because of their interesting harmonic changes. This chord progression in the key of C minor, and the tempo is in 6/8. The chords are Cmin - Abmaj - Bbmaj - Ebmaj - Abmaj - Ddim - Gsus4 - Gmaj. Making use of special target notes over chords can create a really musical effect. There are so many options to choose from. On this track, you’re targeting major and minor 3rd intervals. You'll notice lots of bending, from half step, whole step, and whole step and a half bends to reach the target notes.”
Sweepin' & Slidin' - ”This study is another classical style ballad. The chords are Amin - Cadd4 - Bdim7 - E7. Having the diminished chord in this progression can open up some great harmonic possibilities that will allow us to really expand out while still keeping things musically simple. There are plenty of target notes to hit, and lots of bending, especially in the higher register. For the overall feel, we want to create an inspiring sound, even in a minor key, so this is why we try and weave out of the minor 3rd target notes into more bendy and bluesy phrases. We're trying to catch the listener's ear and make our solo have some harmonic movement.”
Double Stops for Hendrix - ”Our third ballad study is in E major. The chords are Emaj - Dmaj - Amaj. With the use of three major chords in this ballad, we can really explore lots of major 3rd bends to emphasize the major chord tones of each chord. Making use of the relative minor of E major, we can use the C# minor pentatonic scale to get the major scale sound, but we also have use of the all too familiar minor pentatonic scale to bend notes and add plenty of vibrato to make the notes sing. Adding double stops helps break up the soloing sound by adding a different type of texture to the overall effect of the ballad.”
Marty's Melody - ”This study is in E major. The chords are Emaj - F#min - G#min - Amaj. Because of the major - minor - minor - major structure, we're about to really create some really interesting melodic movement throughout the piece. We begin this track with more double stop ideas to help us approach things from a different angle. The use of open strings as we're ascending the E major scale really help brighten things up into some bends that are target notes, sounding very melodic. We move into the open E position to work around an E major arpeggio and land on the F# target note and do some bending to create some breathing room as we descend a melodic arpeggio based in Emaj and back to the root.”
Vocal Bends - ”This ballad is in G major, with the chords being Gmaj - Cmaj - Bmin - Dmaj. This study only contains one minor chord, so as we solo over this, we want to keep that in mind and make use of that minor chord to target some things over it. These types of ballads are a lot of fun to solo over. In this solo, we make use of chromatic notes in the theme that recur later in the solo. Double stops were added again to keep the flow of the piece unique and different. A few melodic motifs pop up towards the middle to create a flowing and soulful sound. There's also an alternate picked run to ascend to the higher register strings. We end with an A major arpeggio with a bend that targets the root.”
Numbing Bends - ”Numbing Bends has a really epic feel, mainly attributed to the chords and target notes in the progression and the tension they create. The chords are Gmin - Ebmaj - Dmaj - Cmin - F5 - D/F#. There are lots of opportunities to really build up speed before the progression loops back around to create an intense feel before hitting a target note on the downbeat again! We start off with a huge double stop bend with a lot of power and force to start the pace off with a lot of feeling. Following that, we play some fragmented arpeggios right out of G minor into some half-step bends to create an almost David Gilmour type effect. After this, we follow up with some bluesy style licks to bring things back home and into a flashy octave run in G minor.”
Minor Theater - ”This study takes some interesting twists and turns. The track is in the key of B minor and makes use of interesting slides and pedal points to weave melodic ideas together. Just as our other tracks, we incorporate a ton of note bending and vibrato throughout this solo. Here we start to incorporate arpeggios and pedal points a bit more. Although it's still a ballad, some faster runs can begin to spice up the solo and create a really inspiring feel.”
Dorian Impact - ”This solo is played over a Dorian chord progression, the chords being Cm7 and F/C. Yet another two-chord vamp to show how much melodic content can be played over just two chords. This also challenges us to create more melodic solos as we don't have as many chords changes to work with. This study contains many of the usual techniques, such as note bending and slides as well as making use of the notes of the Dorian scale like the b2 and b6. This can create a really funky sound, and although the Dorian is a minor mode, it contains notes that certainly set it apart for a different feel than a natural minor.”
Flat 7 Drones - ”"Flat 7 Drones" is created using the Mixolydian mode in the key of D. The Mixolydian mode is a major key mode, and this solo is a simple two-chord vamp of D Major and C major. This goes to show how you can craft interesting ballad solos over just two simple chords. Since our chord progression is derived straight from the Mixolydian scale, we make use of the flat 7 of the Mixolydian scale as our starting point. There's a really inspired sound reminiscent of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai throughout.”
Mystical Phrygian - ”This solo takes our ballad into more mysterious territory. As you can see, with the Mixolydian we were able to go into a completely different territory with our ballad with a two-chord vamp, and we'll do that here, too. "Mystical Phrygian" makes use of a Phrygian chord progression and Phrygian dominant scale to stand on the edge of something a little more exotic. Making use of the Phrygian scale evokes a more mysterious sound at the beginning of our solo through the tension and release of target notes as well as half step bending ideas. Notice the almost thematic ideas because of the two-chord vamp. We're able to have a more free and flowing effect because of the tension in the chord progression.”
All of the performance studies are tabbed and notated for your practice, reference and study purposes. You’ll also get Guitar Pro files so that you can play, loop and/or slow down the tab and notation as you work through the lessons. Plus, Sheryl includes all of the backing tracks for you to work with on your own.
Grab your guitar and let’s power out a solo with Tony Smotherman!