Thanks to one of my Patreon subscribers who gave me the great suggestion for this video. Learn these two simple rules to massively improve phrasing in your guitar solos:
1) Rhythmic Targets
2) Harmonic Targets
Practicing phrasing in this way will help you break out of meandering around the pentatonic shapes. It will lead to much more melodic solos that have greater impact by using space and intelligent note choices.
Rhythmic Targets are like this: We must know the chord structure of the song or jam track that we are soloing over to create great phrases because the structure of the song should inform when we start and stop a phrase. For example, in the 12-bar form typically starts with four bars of the I chord, then the next four bars are IV and back to I, two measures each. That means, using two-measure phrases over each of these parts will sound natural since the chord changes happen in groups of four and two.
Harmonic Targets are very similar, but with harmonic targets we use the notes of the chords underneath to inform what we play. For example, we could use the major pentatonic on the I chord, but when the 12-bar form switches to the IV chord, we could switch to minor pentatonic, and that would make a new phrase. We could also outline the harmony of bars 9-10 as the form moves quickly from the V chord to the IV chord, one bar each.
You can get a note-for-note transcription of the solo that I play in the YouTube video on our Patreon. I did promise in the video that I would give you a couple free licks, so here is a great example of harmonic phrasing, in this case over bars 9 and 10. You'll notice that I use essentially the same lick, but transposed over each chord: E7 then D7.
The lick starts on the root of the chord, goes up an octave, then hits the minor-7 (which is what makes a dominant E7 or D7 chord). You can move this lick over any dominant chord. Just start with the root on the A string and follow the shape of the lick from there.