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Guitar Styles:
Using Major and Minor Pentatonic in Blues


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Q: Can you explain how to use different scales in Blues progressions. I was on a guitar discussion forum where they were posting about playing major and minor pentatonic and even modes on blues progressions. But, I dont quite understand is how this works. I was taught that on blues progressions you are supposed to use the blues scale. I dont really grasp the modes yet, but my pentatonics are pretty good. Im curious about what other blues sounds I might be missing! I love blues guitar.
- Charlotte, Wales UK.

A: The Major and Minor pentatonic scales can be interchanged to offer a fantastic blend of major and minor thirds, as well as color from the major 6th and minor 7th. In the video lesson we will examine how to do this and learn a series of guitar licks that demonstrate these ideas.

Thanks for your question!


PASSING TONES: By mixing both pentatonic scales we wind up with a number of passing tones. Take a look at the scale layouts below.


slow blues jam


These two scales only contain two overlapping notes of A, and E. The rest of the notes create a long stream of chromatic movement. This chromatic series begins on the major second of the major pentatonic (the B note) and carry through until the perfect fifth (the E note).

There is a half-step break at the perfect fifth with another two notes sitting side by side between the two scales at the major sixth and minor seventh. This point is one of the most excellent places to overlapp sounds between the two scales. The major 6th and minor 7th are very nice to move between while soloing.

Another sweet spot area is between the minor 3rd and major 3rd. This is often performed as an effect on the chord tones by rhythm players. Hammering onto the major 3rd is easy to do and sounds great.

Between the major 2nd degree and perfect 5th chromatic stretch of tones, players need to work on creating interesting phrases. The ma and mi thirds are easy, however creating lines around the rest of the tones will take more effort.


The downloads below contain a handout with the licks from the video.
Select from either Power Tab Editor or Adobe PDF file formats.

Guitar Licks Tab Chart
(Power Tab editor document)
Guitar Licks Tab Chart
(Adobe PDF format)

To Download > Left Click > Save