It’s typical for many people to use good old Box 1 because it lines up with the classic “Root on the 6th string” barre chord shape that we all know and love…

So in this video, we’ll look at how to combine the Major and the Minor Blues Scales over both the “6th string root” chord, and the “5th string root” chord, and how you can practice them at home.

    19 replies to "Blues Chords And Pentatonic Blues Scales Mixed Together"

    • Pete

      The concept of what Griff just illustrated is one of the least understood and little explained “tools” of advanced, professional players and playing blues in general…treating each chord change as a separate “key” and playing the major or minor pattern in same position of the chord, based upon the chord family (major/minor). Few master it…the best ones do.

      Griff Hamlin is by far, one of the best teachers on the planet. Very few ever illustrate and explain this concept.

      • Mitchell

        Excellent points, Pete

      • Larry Twain

        Love you Griff🎸😀👍

    • Tom Ward

      Thanks for showing the different positions of the 5 boxes to produce major and minor solos while staying in the same place on the fretboard. However, didn’t
      you caution about soloing with the major scales over the 4th and 5th chords in the 12 bar blues progression? Maybe we shouldn’t have learned those scale positions…

      • Edward


        Yes, like Tom I thought we weren’t supposed to solo with the major scales over the 4th and 5th chords in the 12 bar blues progression. Now I’m confused.

      • Jeff

        Griff explains why he can play a Major or Minor SCALE over the IV chord (in this case D7) beginning at the 4:00 minute mark in the video. Watch it again (and again and again) to understand it.

        Here’s my take on what Griff did to answer your question.

        The reason Griff plays a Major or Minor over the IV chord (D7) and that it works is because he’s treating the D7 like it’s a I chord.

        The rule is you can play a Major or Minor SCALE over the chord you’re playing (could be any chord) if the SCALE you’re playing is the same as the CHORD you’re playing.

        If you’re playing a D7 CHORD you can play a D SCALE (major or minor) over it and will sound great.

        To me what is confusing is why in a typical blues solo the minor SCALE of the I CHORD works over the IV and the V chord. THAT is what we have been taught. Over the I CHORD play the Major or Minor SCALE of the I chord; e.g., if you’re I CHORD is A7 you play the A Minor SCALE over the IV (D7) and the V (E7). Then when you go back to the I chord, you can play the A Maj OR A minor over the I.

        In Griff’s video even though he’s changing from A7 to D7 he’s treating each as though it’s the I Chord. So for A7 he’s playing the A Major and A Minor SCALE over the CHORD. Then when he changes to D7 HE CHANGES SCALES to the D SCALE (Major or Minor as the case may be.

        Why this new wrinkle from Griff? It does at least 2 things as far as I can see.

        First it brings a new level of sophistication to your playing (i.e., the ability to play a Major scale (or minor scale) over the IV chord) by treating it like it’s the I chord instead of the IV.

        Second it will allow you to learn 2 new boxes you may not know that well: boxes 4 and 5. Because when the D7 comes around instead of sliding up to the 10th fret to play boxes 1 and 2, if you stay where you are (5th fret) you look at the 5th string 5th fret as the root and by playing boxes 4 (minor) and 5 (major) over the D you don’t have to move up the fret board. You can stay where you are.

        Griff’s lesson not only encourages you to learn 2 new boxes (4 and 5), you’ll also bring a new, more advanced technique to your playing/soloing.

        • Tom Ward

          So if you change the scale to the chord, then the major scale will work with the 4 chord in the solo. Only use the minor scale if you are just using the I chord scale. Got it!

        • Mitchell

          Great explanation, Jeff!

    • Joe

      I never get tired of reviewing the fundamentals … then seeing how to make playing even more interesting and enjoyable for our listeners. Thanks, Griff!

    • DaveyJoe

      Very helpful! Thanks Griff!

    • Steve C

      Thanks for all the great stuff Griff. What is your preference on looper pedals?

    • Johhny Russell

      Thanks so much sir, for consistently providing quility instructional videos.
      It is appreciated. Your doing a wonderful service….

    • Rob S

      Is there a course on the box’s & the major & minor blues scale?

      • Anthony Ingoglia

        When I look at the boxes, to me box four is exactly the same as box one except you move it up one string (6 to 5). You run out of strings after the 1st so go to the sixth strings and do your 1-4 ( if you were doing minor) like you would have if you had another string. You already know that pattern.
        In other words, when I was learning the boxes, box 4 was easy. Its box 1, just start on the 5th string.

        • Bob Cuyt

          Not sure I agree – the position on the second (B) string does not match?

          • Edward

            Bob is right Anthony–the position on the second (B) string does not match.

      • Griff

        It’s covered in Blues Guitar Unleashed and is a big part of that course, about the last third of it.

        More specifically it is also in Major Minor Blues Shapes, which is more about drilling the execution of switching between the sounds all over the fretboard.

      • Jim

        PS&TM and MMBS…Pentatonic Scale & Technique Mastery, and Major Minor Blues Shapes
        are two good ones! The “boxes” seem to show up in just about all of the BGU courses.

      • AlanBGo

        go to:

        I strongly suggest signing up for the free emails and free 4-note solo course. Both informative and intersting.

        and then go to Course Catalog at top of page. I think the course you’re looking for is the “Major Minor Blues Shapes”.

        I’d also recommend the very comprehensive “Blues Guitar Unleashed 2.0” and/or sign up for Griff’s “All Access Pass”, which gives you his complete catalog of courses Plus on-line seminars for a very reasonable price.

        I’ve been doing Griff’s courses now for about 5 years. Best money I’ve ever spent on learning guitar.


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