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Blues lick with a little spice

Ok, I call this lick my “kitchen sink lick” because it’s got alot of stuff in it!
If you’d rather just go ahead and play it, be my guest. I’m going to go into quite a bit
of detail here, so hang on…

This lick is mostly a combination of A minor blues and A mixolydian.
Here are the formulas for both scales, using A major for reference…

A Major 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1
A B C# D E F# G# A

A minor blues 1 b3 4 #4 5 b7 1
A C D D# E G A

(Another way of looking at a minor blues scale is that it’s just minor pentatonic plus one note – #4.)

A mixolydian 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 1
A B C# D E F# G A

Most of you reading this will probably at least know the basic A minor pentatonic pattern starting with the 1st finger on the A on the 5th fret of the 6th string. As you go through this lick, use that pattern as your frame of reference.
The A on the 5th fret of the 6th string will be number 1 in the pattern. From there, as you go left to right across the strings up to the 8th fret of the 1st string, the pattern will be: b3(C) 4(D) 5(E) b7(G) 1(A) b3(C) 4(D) 5(E) b7(G) 1(A) and finally, b3(C) on the 8th fret.

Ok, let’s get to the lick… The first 3 notes are a triplet figure that uses a chromatic passing tone – 7(G#) – to go from the b7(G) to the 1(A) at the 7th fret. A “chromatic passing tone” is just a note that takes you from one note in the scale to another note that’s also in the scale.

The second triplet brings us to the blues scale, where we have the b3-4-#4 sequence which is played with a double
hammer on. Smooth! On to the 2nd string for the E at the 5th fret, and then back down the blues scale with a double pull off.

Now, I switch direction quickly and hammer on from the b3 to the natural 3 – I like this sound! Once you hit the natural 3, you’re in Mixolydian land. We continue with the legato sound on to the 2nd string, where you end up with a bend on the 8th fret! Make sure you land that hammer on from the 7th to the 8th fret perfectly, so you can grab that bend. The hammer ons give the lick a bit of flash.

The rest of the lick is all minor pentatonic. I liked this last part because I thought it had a nice contour, or basically jumped around nicely :). Be careful with the bend on the 5th fret of the 3rd string (C-b3). Bend it a little tiny bit – less than a 1/2 step – and it will sound great.

And, to finish it off, I gave it a high octave A like BB King might play. Try sliding out of it after you hit it. I hope you enjoy this lick, let you know if you have any questions!


Listen up! No, I’m serious…

Hi everybody – Sorry it’s been awhile. I’ve been wrestling with some technical issues behind the scenes, but I’m back.

If you’ve been playing guitar ( or any other instrument) for any length of time, you’ve no doubt come up against the dreaded “rut”. As part of the learning process, you’ll go through periods that you’ll feel like you’re not progressing, and that you’re stuck where you are. Changing your practice routine definitely helps, but that’s not what I’m writing about here.

When I hit a rut, sometimes I’ll take a couple of days off, and just listen to as much music as I can, in many styles, WITHOUT my guitar in hand.

If you’re listening to a guitar player (or other instrument), you can listen for a variety of things:

1) Do they play scale runs, or are there riffs more based on arpeggios?
In other words, are the notes spaced farther apart from each other..
2) Do they play double stops or chords in their solos?
3) What kind of rhythms are they using? Can you imitate them?
4) Do they start/end their solos in the low, middle, or upper range of the guitar?
5) What kind of bending are they using? 1/2 step, whole step or more?
6) Vibrato – narrow or wide? fast or slow?
7) Do they use slides in their lines? Up or down?

There are many more things that you can listen for. Maybe you can come up with a few of your own!

You can also learn alot about songwriting without your guitar.

1) How many bars is the intro? What kinds of chords are being used (generally)?
2) How many bars is the 1st section? Is it the verse or chorus?
What kind of chords here? What rhythms are the band members playing?
3) When you get the next section (verse, chorus, bridge, etc), what about the music changes? CONTRAST is a huge consideration when writing any kind of music. Do the instruments change? Does the drum groove change? Etc..
4) How does the song end? Are the same instruments being used, or have some dropped out? Does the ending use some music that was previously played in the rest of the song?

Get yourself a notebook, and write down your discoveries. Then, try to use some of the things you’ve found in your songs, or solos.

If you look on my menu, you’ll see a category called “Books and recordings recommendations”. Click there, then recordings, and you’ll see a list of recordings in different styles (95% of which I personally own). I’ll be adding descriptions when I get some more time. Click on a style, and browse through. If you click through, it will take you to the Amazon site. You can listen to samples there, and buy if you want of course. As I’m sure you know, you can also find just about anything on youtube. You can convert the audio using http://www.dvdvideosoft.com/products/dvd/free-youtube-to-mp3-converter.htm , which is REALLY cool.

I’ll be adding more as time goes on, but right now I have my jazz guitar, general jazz, and rock recordings posted up there. Let me know what recordings have inspired you too! Please… I could also use something else to listen to :).

Thanks for reading,

7 Major Scale patterns – in C

7 C Major Scale Patterns

Before you open the major scale .pdf, let me give you a quick major scale theory rundown, and it’ll go down much smoother :).

Ok, 1st… I chose the C Major scale because “the math is easier”.
What I mean by that is that the C Major scale is the one major scale that has no flats (b) or sharps (#). If a note doesn’t have a flat sharp next to it, you can also call it a “natural” note. So, here’s what we’re working with:


Next step is to figure out where the half steps (1 fret apart) and whole steps (2 frets) are in this series of notes. The rule is:
***E to F and B to C are 1/2 steps (1 fret), everything else (when you play the notes in order) is a whole step (2 frets)***
This is really important – this one sentence will take you far.

So, here’s what that looks like:


One more layer! Now, I’m going to associate a number with these notes. This is CRUCIAL to know in order to understand how the guitar/music works. Here ’tis:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8(1)
Once you know these patterns, everything else on the guitar falls into place much easier. Seriously… More on this later..
Click on the link to open the .pdf, and get the goods!

7 C Major Scale Patterns

5 Am pentatonic patterns

5 A minor Pentatonic PatternsThe minor pentatonic scale shows up in many kinds of music, especially rock and blues. To understand these patterns better, it would be helpful to check out the major scale post above before reading my explanation below.

There is a “formula” for every minor pentatonic, no matter what key you want to play in. Here it is:

1 b3 4 5 b7 1

Well, what does that mean? Ok, pay close attention here if you’re not familiar. To come up with any of the many chords and scales that are available, you first come up with the major scale in that key.

So these patterns (on the .pdf) are in the key of A. So, let’s pull up the A major scale. Remember the whole/half pattern? It’s WWHWWWH, or 2 whole steps-half-3 whole steps-half.

A major scale:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
A B C# D E F# G# A
(pardon my text formatting, I’m trying to resolve an issue in wordpress)

Next, we apply the formula.
key of A:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
A B C# D E F# G# A

The pattern again, is:
1 b3 4 5 b7 1 which leads us to…

Let’s do a walk through of what just happened. The A comes straight from the A major scale since there are no sharps or flats on the 1. The 3rd is flatted, so we bring C# down to C natural. We get both 4 and 5 straight from the major scale – D and E. Last but not least, we have b7. Natural 7 comes down a 1/2 step to G natural.

So, that’s the theory rundown. Now download the .pdf, and get crackin’ with actually playing your guitar :). Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!

5 A minor Pentatonic Patterns

Play Better Music – Train Your Ear! Part I

Hi everybody – I’m displaying this post directly from www.scribd.com .
Please let me know if this is a convenient way to post these articles – easy to read, etc. Etc. Let me know what you think!


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