Shaping Your Pentatonic Scales into Blues Licks
In these article series I will give you insight on how you can learn to use the minor pentatonic scale over the entire neck of the guitar and learn useful licks while you do this. The advantage of having a vocabulary of licks is that you can make your own licks and develop your own style further. Especially if you're new to improvisation it is very helpful to start out with learning licks by other guitarists.
In this first article we will extract some very basic blues licks from the minor pentatonic scale. So let's gets started shaping your pentatonic scales into ideas that you can use in your playing.
For this first part we are going to stay in the pentatonic box position (and the blues scale). So if you haven't already memorised these scales (and the root notes of these scales), this is the first step to take. This first scale is called the minor pentatonic in box position.
Alternatively we can use the Blues Scale, which has one more note then our minor pentatonic scale; the blue note.
You will find this blue note on the 5th string, 6th fret and 1 octave higer on the 3th string, 8th fret. Using this blue note will give the whole scale a more bluesy sound.
Let's take take a look at some licks you can play using the notes of the minor pentatonic scale in box position.
In this first lick we'll use a doublestop. This is where you play two notes simultaneously giving a more thicker sound than one note played by itself. Here we are playing this doublestop on the 2nd and 3th string, 5th fret.
In this youtube video you get to see how you can learn these blues licks: blues licks video.
The next lick also uses a doublestop on the 7th fret. Use your 3th finger on both the 2nd and the 3th string to play this technique.
This third lick is one of my personal favourites all time. It starts off with a little bend and ends with a slide to the A-note on the 2nd string (which is the root note).
In the following licks we will use a combination of techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs, doublestops and the blues bend.
The second note in this next lick has an arrow with the text 1/4 on top. This means we are playing a blues bend. Just push the string a bit upward (or pull it downwards), performing a small string bend. The exact pitch of the bend is not that important here. It is the effect of the bend that we are after.
This last lick uses the second position of the minor pentatonic, wich you will learn in part 2 of this article.
Once you have learned these licks, try improvising with them so you'll develop your own ideas. Some people think that learning other people's licks will stop their own creativity.
While it is true that it is a very good idea to practice improvising licks, it is still very helpful to build a vocabulary of licks.
Antony Reynaert is a blues guitarist and teacher based in Belguim. On his website you will find more usefull resources to learn from, such as his free blues guitar ebook. copyright (c) 2010 www.antonyreynaert.com