Blues Scale Licks And Chord Ideas
The blues scale is one of the most commonly used guitar scales and is a sound that every guitarist should know. This week's guitar licks feature the blues scale, played using more unconventional guitar techniques.
Before diving into the blues scale licks, this week's first example is a chord idea that will hopefully give you some ideas to spice up your blues chord playing. If you have arrived here early in the week, the guitar licks become available when the YouTube #Shorts videos are released. Check back later in the week to access the guitar tab if you are only interested in single note licks.
What Is The Blues Scale On Guitar?
The blues scale contains the intervals - root, b3rd, 4th, b5th, 5th, and b7th. It can be thought of as a minor pentatonic scale with an added b5th.
A blues scale is often used when it is technically not the correct scale choice to fit the chord. A scale is usually used over a chord because the notes of the chord are included within the scale. A blues scale can be used to great effect over a dominant 7th chord, although the blues scale does not contain one of the most important notes in the chord - the 3rd.
The blues scale creates a distinct sound that creates tension. The b5th creates a great deal of tension against a chord. If the b5th is sustained over a dominant 7th chord, for example, it can sound like a wrong note. The trick is to use the created tension musically.
For the reasons stated above, the blues scale is usually treated differently from most other scales. Some scales are easy to use. An example is a dorian mode. If you play a dorian mode over a minor chord, all the notes work nicely against the chord. There are no avoid notes. Try sustaining a b5th interval against a minor chord and you will hear the tension.
So the blues scale contains wrong notes... Not exactly, but it can sound great or terrible, depending on how it is played.
Blues - First 3 Bars Guitar Lick
Playing fast and impressive blues scale licks on the guitar is great fun, although it is essential to know the blues chord progression extremely well. Many of my single note ideas are inspired by the harmonic possibilities of the blues chord progression.
This lick is a chord idea for the first 3 bars of the blues chord progression, with a pickup. The chords used in this example are certainly not your conventional blues chord shapes, but they create some interesting sounds.
The chords used in this blues example require reasonable stretches with your left hand, so be sure to maintain a good hand position and pay attention to the position of your thumb at the back of the neck. The thumb position plays a big part in being able to let the notes ring clearly.
Blues Scale Sweep Picking Guitar Lick
Traditional blues scale fingering with two or three notes per string can make playing faster phrases difficult. Changing the fingering so that the blues scale can be picked using a sweep picking, or economy picking technique offers many great possibilities.
Applying a sweep picking technique to the blues scale often results in stretchy fingering. A bit of thought and changes to the left-hand fingering can make playing these types of sweep picking ideas much easier.
E Blues Scale Ending Lick
Another sweep picking, blues scale lick. This is a short, but punchy little guitar lick.
This guitar lick is based on a three-note per string fingering of the blues scale. You might find this fingering difficult to play, especially on the lower strings, as the fingering is quite a stretch. As you can see, the three-note per string fingering facilitates some speedy picking ideas. Keep those fingers close to the frets when stretching and make sure all notes are buzz-free.
Learn How To Hear The Blues Scale And All Scales For Free
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