The Blues Squeeze…

Lots of folks think that in order to really make the blues sing, you have to use a major sound (or a major blues scale) over the I chord, and then switch to the minor blues sound (or scale, same thing) over the IV and V chord.

And, truth be told, it’s probably one of the single most confusing elements of blues lead guitar. We talk about it often on the Blues Guitar Unleashed Forum, and it’s a question that comes up time and time again.

Now, over the IV and V, you don’t have any options – the minor sound is your best choice (for now…) but you DO have a choice to simplify over the I chord if you pay attention to one note, and “squeeze” it when it’s time comes.

Here’s how you do it:

Download this video HERE

14 Comments

  • Eric Lehtonen

    Reply Reply June 9, 2018

    Hi Griff, I disagree about not being able to play the major pentatonic over the 4 and 5 chords. I just avoid the major 3rd when playing over the 4 and 5 chords, and all the other notes are just fine. In the key of A the major pentatonic is A B C# E F#.

    I avoid the major 3rd (C#). A is fine (root). B is the 5th of the 5 chord and the 6th of the four chord. E is the root of the 5 chord and the 2nd of the 4 chord. F# is the 2nd of the 5 chord and the 3rd of the 4 chord. (And E and A are also part of the minor pentatonic as well).

    Cheers

    Eric

    • Eric Lehtonen

      Reply Reply June 10, 2018

      Hi Griff, I forgot to say that I usually play both minor and major scales over all the chords. I just mix them in ways that work for each of the chords.

      Cheers
      Eric

  • Naakmusiq Ntombi

    Reply Reply June 8, 2018

    Love this post, will love to play guitar

  • Eel1948

    Reply Reply June 6, 2018

    Albert King does this vocally frequently hitting the major third (c#) in A, or just about as you’re demonstrating, as well as with his guitar. He will resolve a phrase or lick on that note. It sounds great if not over used, as it sounds so unexpected!

  • Kimball

    Reply Reply June 6, 2018

    Very cool little lesson. I think this would be good June Challenge material, seeing as how it’s applicable to the 4-Note Solo and House patterns.

    • PAUL

      Reply Reply June 6, 2018

      I LIKE HOW YOU USE THE WHOLE NECK FOR YOUR SOLOS. THIS IS HOW I USE TO PLAY LEAD. NEVER REALIAZED, THAT ON THE 1 CHORD I WOULD DO A LITTLE BEND WITH VIBRATO AND NEVER NEW IT WAS MAJOR.
      PLUS. LIKE YOUR GUITAR. I USE TO MAKE THEM FROM SCRATCH. NO KITS. CALLED “DRAGONFIRE CUSTOM WERKS’. SOLED A LOT OF THEM IN HOLLYWOOD AT THE SUNSET MUSIC STORE. HAD ONE WITH A CEDAR TOP. ASSUME SOUND. WITH KIETh ANDERSON PICKUPS. GAVE IT TO SAUl HUDSON(SLASH) . HE LOVED IT, BUT GIBSON WOULD NOT LET HIM PLAY IT IN CONCERT. THE BIG HEAD STOCK GIVEs YOU THAT SUSTAIN. I PUT A STEEL 2″X 1” PLATE ON THE BACK OF THE NECK ON SOME . GAVE IT MORE OF A OLD BLUES SOUND WITh LOTS OF SUSTAIN. LIKE IT GRIFF. THANKS FOR THE TIP.

  • Riffin’ Rick

    Reply Reply June 6, 2018

    Handy little lesson, Griff, demonstrating visually what some of us know instinctively without having thought too hard about it. I always think of tricks like the blues squeeze as part of the essential tonal “tension and relief” of playing in a blues scale. Keep ‘em coming.

  • bogie

    Reply Reply June 6, 2018

    Oh and forgot to mention.
    I love your James Tyler guitar with the Burning Water finish.
    I mostly connect that guitar with session great Michael Landau.

    Its a interesting finish… it kinda predates the whole relic guitar by about
    10 yrs.

    It is to cool or hip see a blues player like yourself play one .

  • bogie

    Reply Reply June 6, 2018

    Geat lesson Griff !!
    I have mentioned this thing before on posts on your site.
    It was one of the first things I was shown on guitar.
    My teacher called it the blue note or blues 3rd.
    Years later I went to music college…In the theory course we never spoke of it
    rather it was the sharp 4 that was referred to as the blue note.

    To me how I learned it was my teacher was teaching me the ZZ top song
    La Grange. Many people don’t realize that what makes that song so great is
    The main riff… on the note C .. Billy slightly bends that note C up
    then plays the D note straight with no bend.
    I have also been told it is called either a 1/4 tone bend or a microtone bend
    as well.

  • Cynicure

    Reply Reply June 6, 2018

    “It’s a blues thing… It doesn’t have to make sense!”

    Luv it! 😀

  • Rohn

    Reply Reply June 6, 2018

    strange head stock

  • Jeremy

    Reply Reply June 6, 2018

    I dug it!
    And I’m gonna keep digging into this one
    It’s truly great work Grif and given away for free!
    You’re a great guy and a wonderful teacher to keep giving us these vital pieces of the great big blues puzzle in our mailboxes
    Grif definitely delivers!

  • John

    Reply Reply June 6, 2018

    That was great. I’d like to see this fleshed out more vise a vie A minor and A major. Or, does this not work outside dominant 7?

  • Chris hutchison

    Reply Reply June 6, 2018

    A class act. Thankyou Griff.
    In another lesson how about treating the 4 and 5 chords as 1 chords.
    It is in one of your earlier videos/books.
    I just love that idea/sound,and especially convenient when you return to the 1 from the 4,you are right there in position.
    Regards,from australia.
    Chris.

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