The Blues Guitar Scale
The Blues Guitar Scale is arguably the most important group of notes you’ll ever learn to play. Aside from its obvious uses in blues music, it can be used for many other styles too, including jazz, rock and funk. The best place to start is by learning the scale in one key (in this case A) and spend a little bit of time getting used to the sound it creates. Then learn some phrases or ‘licks’ that are written from the blues scale, to give you some example of how to use it in a more musical setting. Once you’ve gotten used to playing it in one key, it’s fairly simple to then transpose it into the other 11 keys. So, let’s crack on with learning the shape.
The Blues Scale in the Key of A
E: 5 & 8
B: 5 & 8
G: 5, 7 & 8
D: 5 & 7
A: 5, 6 & 7
E: 5 & 8
The letters above represent the strings of the guitar and the number show which frets to put your fingers on. Make sure you play each note one at a time and progress through the shape slowly. Try playing it going up and down, as this will really help you get used to the pattern. Make sure you read on for some essential tips to make this scale sound awesome!
So, that shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to get reasonably confident with the scale. The next step, is to start making some cool bluesy sounds with it! The best way is to simply learn a few licks. These are short musical phrases that are written using the notes from the blues scale and are the backbone of every single guitar solo you’ve ever heard.
Essential Lessons You Must Know
Learning how to play blues guitar is one of the most fulfilling things you can do with a guitar. With those skills, not only will you be able to play the blues, you’ll be able to play in many other styles such as jazz, funk and rock. Pretty much every musical style on the planet has it’s roots in blues music, so it makes sense to learn how to play it even if you’re more of a rock or jazz player.
So, without further delay, let’s get on with learning THE most important step in learning how to play blues guitar: The Blues Scale! This awesome sequence of notes is what makes the sound of the blues. What makes it even better is that it’s actually really easy to play! To begin with, we’ll learn how to play it in the key of A. This means you’ll be able to use it over any backing track written in that key (You can download some below, if you keep reading). The letters below show you which string to play and the numbers tell you which fret to put your fingers on. Make sure you play each note one at a time.
The Blues Scale in the Key of A
Low E: 5 & 8
- A: 5, 6 & 7
- D: 5 & 7
- G: 5, 7 & 8
- B: 5 & 8
- E: 5 & 8
Now that you know the pattern, the next step you should take is to learn some licks and phrases that use this scale shape. It’s all well and good just walking up and down the blues scale, though that is the first step in learning the pattern, you won’t make it sound like Clapton and BB King do without learning how to make it sound ‘musical.’ So your task is to learn as many blues licks as you can.
Blues & Rock Guitar Soloing Skills
Blues and Rock Guitar Soloing skills are essential if you want to play the style well. Too many players limit themselves by using the age old ‘I’m just a rhythm player’ approach. If truth be told, a lot of the skills you pick up from playing lead, massively benefits your rhythm playing too. So, how do you improve your blues or rock guitar soloing skills? It’s actually pretty simple, as long as you follow this approach, you can’t go too far off course.
Step 1: Always be learning new licks! Nothing will stunt your creativity more than playing the same old phrases over and over. If you make sure you learn somewhere between 3-10 new licks a week, you can’t fail to keep moving forward. Don’t be tempted to learn too many though, when you read step 2, you’ll realise you need to truly focus on every guitar lick you learn one by one.
Step 2: Repeat each lick 10, 20 even 30 or more times continuously over backing tracks. It might not sound great to begin with but this stage is all about absorbing that lick into your repertoire and learning how it sounds over each and every part of the track. If you can repeat each lick over the entire song, even better. Trust me on this, the repetition not only helps you remember, it also trains your ears for that guitar solo ‘sensitivity’ so many legendary players are famous for.
Step 3: Next up, it’s time to mix some licks together, try developing them into longer phrases. Don’t worry about making a complete solo yet. You have to write the sentences before you write the book! Again this experimental stage is what helps you develop your ‘feel’ and individual playing style. It might seem a little long winded but trust me this method works!
Why not get started right now?
How To Use Licks To Master The Blues
Guitarists all over the world are looking to learn more and more cool blues guitar licks. If you walk into any guitar store, you usually find a couple of guys in the corner trading licks and swapping ideas. We all know that the key to really mastering blues guitar is to learn more and more licks and using them in our solos. Now, in just a bit I’m gonna tell you where you can lay your hands on a goldmine of awesome blues licks, but before I do, I want to give you some essential tips to get you learning faster and playing better solos than ever before.
1. Learn a couple of new licks every time you practice. This will help keep your playing fresh, stop you falling into the same old patterns over and over and help you improve your skills in the long term.
2. Make sure you practice each lick over some backing tracks. Keep repeating each phrase for a few minutes each. Not only will this help you remember everything it’ll help you really get a feel for every lick you play, which will help you when you get to step 3.
3. Now, work on fusing the licks together into longer phrases or even a complete solo. By following step 2 you should notice that your feel for each phrase is a lot smoother and you’ll be able put licks together in a much more musical way.
This is exactly how the professionals do it! If it’s good enough for BB King, Eric and SRV it’s good enough for us
Blues Guitar Riffs That Rock!
Blues guitar riffs are a key ingredient in your guitar playing arsenal. Without a sizeable library of riffs, your skills are going to suffer and your solos aren’t going to sound as good as they could do. Now, I’m going to show you where you can download some tabs for some awesome riffs but first, I’m going to give you some essential tips to make sure you get the best out of them.
1. Make sure you learn new blues guitar riffs each and every week. Nothing will stunt your growth as a blues guitarist more, than a lack of fresh material to work with.
2. It’s essential to jam your new (and old) riffs over some high quality blues backing tracks. Take the time to really explore each riff over and over again. It’s all about hearing how each phrase fits over each part of the track you’re playing over. In a sense you’re training your ears and your fingers to give you that unmistakeable blues ‘feel.’ I’m also going to show you where you can download some awesome backing tracks for free in just a little bit too, so be sure to read on.
3. Last on the list is to try blending the riffs together, again over a variety of backing tracks to help you create a smooth, cohesive solo. If you still find this step difficult, go back to the second step and spend some more time exploring each riff. It will pay off eventually.