Hi all, this lesson is designed for guitarists who have
been playing blues for a while and are comfortable with using the blues scales
for each key in it's various positions on the neck. The blues scale is obviously
an essential part of playing blues, and should be your main tool. Many
guitarists never go beyond playing standard blues scale licks and sound very
fine indeed! Albert King comes to mind as a great blues guitarist who never
strayed far from the standard blues scale. But it's fun to explore other scales
you can use in blues too, and makes you a more complete guitarist.
This lesson will show some other approaches for playing
leads over a major key blues progression. The key of 'A' will be used. First a
quick refresher, the following is the standard 1st position blues box
in the key of 'A'
The first cool move is one that BB King uses quite a bit
in his playing. Simply shift the blues box shown above down three frets so that
it starts on the second fret, and play using this position over the 'A' blues
tune. This gives an 'uptown' feel to the blues. Note that not all the notes
work, and you will need to be careful especially that you land on the correct
notes on chord changes. Best bet is to loop a blues bed in the key of 'A' and
just experiment with playing out of the F# box until you find which notes work
over the three chords. Of course the neat thing about guitar is that the same
note can be found many places on the neck. For example, instead of dropping down
to the Ist position F# box, instead play the 2nd position F# box. You
will notice that you are now playing around the 5th fret, where your
1st position 'A' blues box is. The combined 2nd position
F# box and 1st position A box on the top three strings looks like
The notes colored blue are
notes common to both scales. The green colored notes are from the 1st
position 'A' blues scale and the red notes are from the second position F# blues
scale. As you can see it's easy to access both scales while staying in the same
position. It's fun to mix these up, here is an example of a lick that does that,
played with a triplet feel:
It's important to learn where these notes are all the way up the neck. In each position of the 'A' blues scale you can also find notes from the 'F#' blues scale, and you can mix these up or just play the notes from one or the other.
Experiment with just playing the notes from the F# scale over the A blues, and also experiment with playing notes from both scales. You will be amazed at how many new licks you will come up with! Also try playing the 'A' blues scale over the I chord (A) and then switch to the F# scale for the IV chord (D). There is lots of things you can do with it.
This one is fun and sounds great! The 'V' chord in the
key of 'A' is 'E'. Play over your blues progression as normal, but when you
switch to the 'E' chord, move up to the 12th fret and play your
favorite licks from the 'E' blues scale over the 'E' chord. Sounds awesome!
Again, if you examine the neck you will see that the notes for the 'E' blues
scale are available from the various 'A' blues scale boxes, and vice versa, so
you don't need to be jumping all over the neck to get at these notes. For
example, here is the top three strings of the 'E' blues box, 12th
fret position, showing where the notes from the 'A' blues scale also fit:
The blue notes are common to both scales, the green note
is from the 'E' blues scale and the red note is from the 'A' blues scale.
Try now and mix all of these moves up while playing over
your 'A' blues progression. Practice makes perfect, and the more experimenting
you do with these moves the more cool licks you will discover.
Cool move #3!
This one is great, I use it all the time. I learned this
from Ronnie Earl but I've also heard Joe Louis Walker use it quite a bit.
Basically the idea is to play the notes contained in and around the 9th
chord of each chord of the I, IV, V progression. Works great all over the place,
here is an example of a lick using it over the 'V'-'IV' turnaround (triplet
Feel free to use chromatics too, i.e. playing the notes inbetween. Here is an example over the D9th chord:
Of course you can mix and match
these notes af well. This move also works over the 'I' chord, just move the box
up to the A9th chord position.
Ok! Hopefully this lesson will
be helpful to some players out there wanting to cop the blues! If there is any
interest I can do more lessons on advanced blues playing, maybe get more into
cromatic playing and using mixolydian modes. Also we haven't talked about minor
key blues yet.
Until next time have fun with
your playing, and keep the blues alive!
About the author:
Dave has been playing guitar
since the 70's and has played in various bar bands over the years. He has been a
blues fan since 1971 when he first heard Albert King, who is still a favorite.
He now works mostly on his own, composing original music in the blues and latin
When playing music we can use scales as a guide which will tell us what notes will work best for a particular song. The pentatonic scale is a good example. The five notes in the pentatonic are all you need sometimes, but at some point may players want to be able to venture "outside the box". To do this, we can simply employ the Chromatic Scale.
Yngwie Malmsteen Blues Guitar Lesson brought to you by www.break.com
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