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Blues Guitar Scales
Scales used in Blues Lead Guitar
Scales form the basis of any guitar solo and with Blues it's no exception. Many of the great Blues artists like B.B. King knows little or no theory and aren't particularly concerned with things like scales, they're happy to admit it as well. They've learned to play Blues by ear and feeling.
So why should you learn the scales then? Well, for starters, you're not B.B. King! The fastest way to learn any form of Blues Lead Guitar is to memorize a few fundamental scales and their different positions on the fretboard. If you're new to guitar scales and don't know how to read scale charts, first check out the free video-based
In this lesson and the next, we will focus on the two most commonly used scales in Blues guitar, play them in different positions and learn to use them as basis for licks that can be played as lead guitar pieces. Both of these scales are covered in the Guitar Scales lesson, but here in the Blues section, we're going to go deeper into some of their technical aspects.
The Minor Pentatonic Scale
The Minor Pentatonic Scale is the granddaddy of the guitar solo and by mastering this scale alone, you're practically soloing already (Well not really, but you've got the notes to do it with!)
Here's what it looks like:
Scales form the foundation of any type of soloing and jamming within every genre. Blues is no exception and these blues guitar scales are easy ones to master.
A quick refresher: Scale charts are read from bottom to top, left to right. We therefore start the scale with the red 1 at the bottom. The numbers in the ovals indicates which fingers to use for the notes, while the red notes indicate the Root notes of the scale. We're going to be playing in the key of G so our root note will be G.
A Note on the Fingering: Even though the Scale chart suggests that you use your 4th finger (pinkie) to play some of the scales stretchy notes, I recommend that you instead try and use your third finger (ring finger). While it's not a bad idea to be able to play the scale both ways, it's especially important to be able to play it with only your first and third fingers since these are the fingers you'll use to bend the strings (More on bending later). When a note is played with your pinkie, it's nearly impossible to bend that note, since the pinkie is such a weak finger. So make sure you can play the entire scale with your 1st and 3rd fingers.
That's the primary position of this scale, but can you imagine playing blues solos with those few notes, confined within that shape? Not going to work is it? So we're going to look at four more Minor Pentatonic positions on the fretboard. The different positions of the scale simply gives the guitarist a broader range of notes and frets to play on, while essentially remaining in the same key.
Here's a Guitar Neck Diagram with all five of the Minor Pentatonic Positions indicated.
There's no need to try and memorize all the notes of each different postion immediately. That's boring and time consuming. The best way to remember the notes is by playing these positions on the fretboard, every day for 15 minutes. After a week or two, the flow will come naturally.
In the next lesson, we'll look at other Blues Guitar scales, which you might be familiar with...
Proceed to the next lesson - Blues Guitar Scale
Minor Pentatonic Scale
Grab your guitar and try to play these different minor Pentatonic positions. Since we're playing all five positions of the scale, there are a lot of notes and they're close together on the fretboard. You're likely to get confused in the beginning, so take it slow and increase the speed as you begin to memorize the notes.