Mixing Major and Minor Blues Scales When Soloing

Introduction to Jazz Blues Guitar

 

One of the most easily overlooked techniques in blues soloing is mixing major and minor blues scales when creating riffs, licks and full choruses of improvised solos.

Just because we’re playing the blues, doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t play any major notes in our lines, and often it is these notes that will make your playing stand out against the crowd of other blues soloists.

In this lesson, we’ll explore mixing major and minor blues scales over an A blues progression, and how this mixture can produce immediate results in your blues guitar playing.

To begin, let’s review the box 1 and box 2 minor blues scales, which you can also think of as the minor and major blues scales when you begin both of these scale patterns on the same root note, as in the A in the example below.

Here are both of these blues scales in the key of A. After you have learned them separately, start to check out how these two scales overlap over each other when starting both shapes on the fifth fret.

 

Mixing Major and Minor Blues Scales 1

 

 

Mixing Major and Minor Blues Scales 2

 

One of the main things which separates many top blues guitarists from less seasoned players, is the ability to “play the changes.”

What I mean by this is that normally you would grab an A minor blues scale and use it to solo over an entire 12-bar A blues progression, but you can also take your minor and major blues scales and move them with each chord in the progression.

This means that in the key of A you would play the A blues scales over A7, the D blues scales over D7 and the E blues scales over E7, essentially changing keys along with the underlying chord changes.

Mixing Major and Minor Blues Scales Lick

By using the lick I teach in the video and tab below, you can then use this melodic idea to solo over all three chords in an A blues, moving between A, D and E for your I, IV and V chords.

Since it contains all three of these chords in a short span of time, for the video examples I’ll focus on the last few bars of the A blues progression. As we are in the key of A, our last few bars will be based on our V, IV, I typical blues ending.

By using this lick over each of these chords, you can produce a revolving pattern that can be used over each chord before ending on your last bar and moving on to a new idea from there.

When soloing in this fashion, you are not only outlining the chord progression more tightly, but you are creating a sense of melodic development as you lead a single lick through each key in the chord progression, something that can go a long way in raising the musicality and melodic interest of your next blues guitar solo.

 

Mixing Major and Minor Blues Scales 3

 

Mixing Major and Minor Blues Scales Video

 

 

Do you have any questions about mixing major and minor blues scales , please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

About the Author

Grant Pritchard is an up and coming UK blues guitarist and singer who currently lead the Grant Pritchard Trio. After completing his degree in Popular Music Performance from the University of Chester, Grant has begun to make a name for himself as one of the top young blues performers in the Northwest as he gigs, records and teaches his energetic approach to traditional blues guitar performance.




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  1. GeryNov 17, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Great stuff! Really useful and interesting way of playing over the chord changes. Liked how you slowed down to show us and included tab. Thanks!

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