November 05, 2009

The Blues Guitar Scale, How to Master It.

If you are new guitar player who wants to make a career or a hobby out of playing blues guitar, then this essay will give you the basic points to get you on your way as a player and interpreter of the blues. Or maybe you have no intention of specializing in blues guitar playing. In that case my essay will give you the bare bones of musical interpretation using the guitar. These basic points can be applied to any genre of guitar music.


So, let us start with a minor pentatonic scale. Whenever you see the word pentatonic you know the scale has just five notes. This is the A minor pentatonic scale starting at the root note - A at the fifth fret of the sixth string:









If you are used to playing barre chords, just barre the fifth fret and use the third and fourth fingers to play the notes at the seventh and eighth frets. As the first note in this scale is the root note, all you need to do to play this scale in other keys is to slide your first finger up or down the guitar neck. So now we move the barre up to the eighth fret which gives us the root note C. You will notice that now we have added some extra notes. This is the blues scale in the key of C. The notes we have added to the minor pentatonic give you more opportunity to give your music that "bluesy" feel.









The minor pentatonic scale can be played in other positions on the fretboard. You need to learn where the notes are because the same note played on a different string sounds different. So the more positions you can play in the more variety you can put into your playing.


A word of warning here. Do not spend all your time learning the scales by heart. Once you can play a scale in one position, play with it. Try bending the notes, see what other notes sound good with the notes in your scale. In other words, give the scale some of your individuality. If you do not feel confident about doing this, then just fall back on imitating what other guitar players do. Do not worry that you are copying other guitarists' material. Most guitar players start off this way. Using other musicians' licks as a springboard for your own playing will get your juices flowing and you will be adding your own licks in no time.


Another way to approach learning scales is to learn a melody by ear and try to work out the scale it comes from. This might seem like hard work at first but it is a very pleasant way to learn music. Another thing to remember that blues music has a resolution. Your solos are all travelling to the end of the twelve bars or whatever style of blues you are playing, so any note you play on the way is fine.


Once you have a basic understanding of the blues scale and you can play it in a couple of positions on the guitar fretboard, you will need to look at the question of phrasing. There are so many excellent blues music tracks on record going back over a hundred years all you need to do is listen and imitate. Of course, your imitation does not have to be one hundred percent accurate, but other guitar players blues solos give you ready made starting points for your own original blues playing. One point to remember for beginner blues guitar players is that now you have a blues scale to play, you do not need to play all of the notes all of the time. If you have a backing track or some music you would like to solo over, start with one or two notes in the scale. Bend them, hammer them on, practice your vibrato, slide into those notes, make them yours.


Do you want to learn to play the guitar? is my blog which shows you that there are many people like you who wish to learn how to play bass, acoustic or electric guitar. You will find guitar lessons, videos, articles and reviews to answer your questions, calm your fears and help you play the guitar.

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