Gaining Technical Mastery Over The Major Blues Scale

In an earlier guitar lesson, I gave you some essential theory that will help you understand blues scales. In that lesson I explained how the major blues scale was constructed and that it had the scale degrees 1 2 b3 3 5 and 6. For this lesson we'll leave the theory behind, and focus on something more fun….building technique!

So how will we be building your guitar technique? Easy…we'll take a useful fingering for the A Major Blues scale and play it using a cool sounding melodic pattern. But, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Let's check out the scale fingering first…

A Major Blues Scale Fingering:

 Major Blues Scale Fingering

If you've never learnt this scale fingering before, please take a few moments to memorize it. Once you've done that, please read on…

OK…let's now take a look at a guitar scale exercise that uses the above fingering…

A Major Blues Scale: Exercise:

A Major Blues Scale Exercise

Here are a few important points about this exercise…

  • This scale exercise is played using alternate picking (starting with a downstroke). As you play it, be sure that you are picking down-up consistently.
  • Underneath the TAB I have written the exact fretting-hand fingers that I use to play this exercise. They work for me, but if you can think of a better way of playing it, then go for it!
  • It uses a six-note melodic pattern that has a very smooth and flowing sound to it. Notice that the melodic pattern repeats seven times before we finally finish the exercise on the last A note.
  • Notice in the second-to-last bar I cheated by going outside the scale fingering. I added an extra C# note that falls outside the fingering that I gave you. I did this so that I could complete a seventh repetition of the melodic pattern.
  • Each bar of the exercise could be treated as a separate exercise. For example, you could take just the first bar and repeat those notes over and over. What would be some advantages of doing this? How would just practicing a small chunk of the whole exercise help you? Hint…this is a practice strategy used by many fast guitarists.

Practicing exercises that use melodic patterns is a very powerful way of getting comfortable with scales. It's much more effective to practice them in this way, than to play them just straight up-and-down. Why do you think that would be? In what ways will it help your ability to play the scale? In what ways do you think it will improve your guitar technique?

That's all from me for now. Work hard at this major blues scale lesson. I think that it will help your technique a LOT!

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