In unit 3 we will be coming back to our lead guitar playing and talking in depth about the major and minor crossover in the blues. The concept is simple, we can use both the major pentatonic of the key, and the minor pentatonic of the key! How? Why? When? All good questions, and all of them answered right here. Check out the first video to get started and click here to check out the Materials Section below to hear the licks covered in this section!
If you asked a beginner guitar player to play a pentatonic scale over a 12 bar blues, highly likely they will go to that trusty pentatonic shape 1 in a minor key. This is most people's base when it comes to soloing. When you are dealing with dominant chords, however, you have many more options than that, and one of the most popular and best sounding, is blending the major and minor pentatonic shapes.
The answer is based in the dominant chord. Remember how we have the major triad, plus the flattened 7th? Well, it is exactly that which allows us to blend scales. The major 3rd gives us that major sound, and allow us to bring in that major pentatonic, whilst the b7th brings in a note from the minor scale, giving us access to the minor pentatonic. Simple as that! So, in the same way that we would play over all the chords in the key of A minor with the A minor pentatonic scale, we can now play over all the chords in the key of A blues (A7, D7 and E7), with the A minor and A major pentatonic scales. How cool is that?!
Now we have a grasp on the theory, lets take a look at using this in practice. In this lesson we will learn the two shapes we need to use over the E shape dominant 7th CAGED chord. Every time we play this chord shape, no matter the key, we can use the Pentatonic box 1 for minor, and the pentatonic box 2 for major. See the fret diagrams below and get these learnt!
Let’s put our theory into practice with two awesome licks! Both of these licks are based in C blues. The tab is below, but first here are the scale shapes we're basing the licks on:
Next up we’ll take a look at how to approach the same piece of theory, without relying on the E shape chord based on the E string root. We’ll now look for our A string root note. So, for example, in the key of A blues, we have the A root note on the 12th fret of the A string (and open string of course!). Once we have found that, we will play the C shape CAGED chord for A7, and then apply the major pentatonic box 4, and minor box 3. All the shapes are drawn up below.
Let’s put our theory into practice with two more awesome licks! Both of these licks are based in C blues. The tab is below, but first here are the scale shapes we're basing the licks on:
To finish our unit we have a really fun lesson showing you how to take these licks and apply them to every key and every blues situation. It’s the same prinicple as our final lesson in Unit 1, only now we have a lot more to work with! We would recommend trying to end every pratice session with a bit of improvisation like this as it is hands down one of the most important skills to master if you want to play blues guitar, especially blues lead guitar. Good luck!