The Pentatonic Blues Scale

Guitar lesson for beginners

The pentatonic, or pentatonic minor scale, or simply blues scale, is the basis of the majority of blues, rock and metal music of the 20th century. If you want to start playing lead guitar, improvising blues and rock, or writing classic sounding rock tunes, the pentatonic blues scale is definitely the place to start. But despite the name this isn’t only about blues. In fact getting this scale to sound like authentic blues is not actually that easy!

As the ‘pent’ prefix implies, this scale has just five notes, so is simpler than a typical major or minor scale (they have seven notes) – it’s basically a slimmed down minor scale, missing the 2nd and 6th notes. You can use it to solo in one key, or other typical twelve bar blues progressions. It really is an easy way to play a handful of notes that sound GREAT right from the get go.

Guitar lesson contents:

In the key of E, the pentatonic blues scale is as follows:

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Phrygian scale for metal guitar

You may have heard of modes, specifically the Phrygian mode. A mode is basically a guitar scale, and the theory behind modes can be useful, as it shows how different scales relate to each other. But if you find guitar theory a bit much you can skip all that. (If you are interested, check out a full explanation of modes here). If you find learning guitar scales hard, do not worry, this one is really easy! Also known as the Phrygian minor scale, it sounds super evil – great for metal – and will give a whole new twist to your riffs! Get Phrygian!

Guitar lesson contents:

So, we are starting from an assumption you know a minor scale (also known as the natural minor or Aeolian mode). If you do, it’s as easy as changing one note in the scale. So let’s remind ourselves of the minor scale. If you are already familiar with this scale, jump forward to the Phrygian fingering diagram.

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Music Theory – The Importance of Rhythm

Rhythm is one of the three building blocks of music theory. Without it, timing wouldn’t exist- much like the basic tablature system lacks timing and rhythm. For music theorists who take the time to learn the three building blocks of music theory- rhythm, harmony, and melody; the payout will be enormous in the long run.

music theory and rhythm
Figure 1 – Timing and rhythm are part of the core essentials of music theory- learning rhythm is vital to grasp harder music theory concepts.

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How to Read Tablature

Not everyone has the time or patience to learn how to read and write music with standard notation. Tablature, also called tabulature or tabs, is the world-renown solution that proves to be much faster in terms of learning, writing, or reading a song in standard notation. In fact, it is much more likely that a guitarist seeking to learn a song will find tablature long before standard notation is found.

how to play tabs

Figure 1 – The top shows standard notation, while the bottom shows tablature. Notice how there is no rhythm or timing for tablature, as compared to standard notation.

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An Introduction to Music Theory for Guitarists

Music theory is vital to any guitar player that is looking forward to a long-term hobby or even profession. The majority of young guitarists decide to skip music theory, and instead start learning tablature of idolized bands. This is often a bad idea for a number of reasons, and is usually better to learn music theory first- however “less fun” it might be, since it will be a phenomenal help in the long run.

fretboard notes

Figure 1 – It might not look like a fretboard, but it is! Don’t worry if it looks confusing- it’s actually quite simple. Learning music theory is vital to the avid guitarist!

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