What scales do you use for blues?

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by Stratafied, Sep 11, 2021.

  1. Stratafied

    Stratafied Most Honored Senior Member

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    That sounds great.
     
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  2. Slacker G

    Slacker G Strat-O-Master

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    Whatever sounds right to the ears
     
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  3. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    The chromatic scale always contains the notes you need. I use both major and minor pentatonic and the major scale in all it’s modes. I almost never think of it like that though when I’m playing. I’m trying to play more like a singer in melodic or rhythmic phrases based on feel or emotion. My best playing happens when I lock in on that. It’s not always easy but sometimes it’s effortless.
     
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  4. heltershelton

    heltershelton Vivamus libero Vivamus duris

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    most are never able to simplify it like that. lots of times people make things way more difficult than they have to be, especially with the modes of the major scale.
     
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  5. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    That was something I learned from Ted Green’s book Chord Chemistry. The chapter on modes and chord formulas opened up the entire fingerboard to me and simplified it in my mind.
     
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  6. heltershelton

    heltershelton Vivamus libero Vivamus duris

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    joe pass for me. i studied him alot back in the day, even though im not a jazz cat. i really liked the way he simplified everything. to me, joe pass was the bruce lee of jazz.
     
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  7. ripgtr

    ripgtr Most Honored Senior Member

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    Major and minor pentatonic. Dorian. Mixolydian. Those would be the absolute basics for me. I mix them up, often within the same lick.

    I use a lot of the 7b9 altered scale, especially if it is fast or swings at all (hw dim scale) and some bebop altered scale. Works great on funky stuff.
    I also use a lot of passing notes (though lots of times,those passing notes are actually related to the altered scales above)
    I use a TON of 1/4 tone stuff.

    But then, when I play the blues, and I do that a lot, I don't "play scales", any scale. I play melodies. Lots of stuff I've stored up in my brain from listening to the stuff for 50 years and that includes a lot of years of very deep dives into the stuff. Scales are like plywood. I don't live in plywood, I live in a house built with plywood that has been cut and altered to make different rooms/houses/designs. It is a language, so I went to where they speak that language and learned from the native speakers.
     
  8. Cali Dude

    Cali Dude Senior Stratmaster

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    I agree, knowing the scales is important. However, to get good, one must play with feel, and go beyond the scales. Learn what your favorite players are doing. Steal those licks.
     
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  9. rolandson

    rolandson Dr. Stratster

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    Umm,
    I use the melody. Arpeggios are nice too. And passing notes, lots of passing notes.
     
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  10. Hal Nico

    Hal Nico Senior Stratmaster

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    I don't get bogged down in scale names. I just play what sounds and feels right to the backing :)

     
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  11. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    Joe Pass was the best. I got to meet him once and showed him one of my early guitars which he played and paid me a nice compliment. At that same meeting someone asked what advice he’d give to someone trying to make it in the music business and he said: “Learn to Sing”. His column in GP was my favorite along with Howard Robert’s column.
     
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  12. rolandson

    rolandson Dr. Stratster

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    I love watching videos of Joe Pass. I never saw him perform in person, but many times on television...he was a huge influence on my aspirations as a jazz musician.

    However, to @Stratafied 's quest I would offer...
    Herb Ellis (another great jazz player), aside from developing a teaching program which he called Shapes which is well worth pursuing regardless of genre, had a thing...

    Listen carefully to his recordings, and sometimes it is possible to pick out him humming or singing the part he's playing...! It's about hearing in your head what you want your fingers to do.

    Hear it and your fingers will follow.
    Scales are great for developing dexterity and fretboard familiarity, and really good for learning to read if that skill is lacking, but on their own, they make for terrible solos.
     
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  13. ultrahedgehog

    ultrahedgehog Strat-Talker

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    Is there a particular sound you’re after? There’s lots of “stuff” you can do over a standard 12 bar blues…minor pentatonic or a blues scale is safe (obviously, you already mentioned that….). Mixing in the particular key major pentatonic sounds good in a lot of contexts, but there are some notes that sound a bit funky (IMO) over certain chords. Like the major third….I love it over the I….not so much over the IV.

    or you could just follow the major pentatonic over the changes.

    Or you could do some appropriate arpeggios over the changes.

    or you could do some diminished runs (ala Robben Ford).

    Original post asked what others do….I do all of this in certain contexts, but it’s never a “now I’m going to use the diminished scale for 8 bars…” or anything like that. I guess you could do that…might sound weird though.
     
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  14. stratobiker

    stratobiker Senior Stratmaster

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    Where do you want your blues to go?
     
  15. rocknrollrich

    rocknrollrich Most Honored Senior Member

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    12 bar blues? You can pretty much play whatever you want. Seriously. The tempo in most of those are slow enough to literally think about the next note, and make it count.