A lot of people might call these the “intervals” of the blues scale, but these aren’t intervals to me because they don’t involve a distance between 2 notes…

Instead, I think of every note of a scale as an actor, having a role to play in the overall performance. That role, as you will see in today’s video, is determined by how you decide to look at a given group of notes.

So if you find that you tend to blindly just play through the box patterns, and you aren’t always aware of which note you’re on… try this and see if you can’t become more aware of what effect your note choice is having.

In particular, knowing how to work the 3rd can have some really big effects on your sound because of the role of the 3rd. So I’ll discuss that particular adjustment in the video.

    23 replies to "The Roles Your Blues Notes Play…"

    • Alexander Aliganga

      Thank you for that lesson. I didn’t realize that by manipulating the 3rd it could create interesting sounds. Can’t wait to work on it.
      Thanks again Griff.

    • JohnnyB

      OK, so we can take the hexatonic blues scale and ADD back in the major 2nd and major 3rd… I definitely dig it. But what do we CALL this new scale?

    • Mike

      Hey Griff
      Is that the Strat you got from norm?
      Nice lesson. Thanks. Mike

    • Stephen Bowyer

      Excellent treatise on the values for each note of the blues scale. Many thanks, Griff! A question that has often run through my head concerning the relationship of the minor to major pentatonic – Is it “doable” to overlay the form 2 major pentatonic shape on top of form 1 minor pentatonic shape and play all of the notes, or must some be excluded when joining the two scales? I thought that this was what you were doing around 11:15 of the video? Thank You.

      • Chris G

        Hello Stephen. I think I know what you’re asking about, and Manuel asked a similar (same?) question earlier. Somewhere in the BGU blog, there is a link to a document called major-minor-blues-boxes.pdf – I don’t think you can search the Blog for it, but if you Google “bgu major-minor-blues-boxes” you’ll find it. It’s a 7-page PDF that Griff produced some years ago, and I bet it’s exactly what you need. Page 6 has diagrams which show the Minor Pentatonic and the Major Pentatonic at the same positions on the fretboard, and that will answer your question. Save it to your “most important guitar skills” folder. The whole document is solid gold.
        Chris G in Australia.

        • Stephen Bowyer

          Hi, Chris – I found your reference and will be sure saving it for reference, /thank you for taking the time to dig this out for me! Be well, Stephen B

    • tony

      Massage the third . that could be a funny thing. this is a helpful lesson. thanks for sharing . be safe stay home and hopeful this emergency blows over soon.

    • Davy

      Great lesson Griff. Thanks.

    • Eddie

      Every time I watch your videos I always learn something new to apply when I’m improvising.

    • Chris G

      I’m way down South in Australia, but I’m “spiritually” with Allan Schick (earlier comment). A couple of crates of Corona and self-isolate for 14 days to practice (and drink:).
      Excellent lesson Griff, as always.
      Chris G.

    • Nacho

      Thank you so much very helpful and as always great explanation

    • Ole

      Nice lesson. Ranking of the the notes based on their importence is simply a “must know”.
      But I do have a few questions, not so much to the lesson, but more like a request for a follow-up on blue notes.
      In theory ( I might be a bit of a theory geek 😉 ) blue notes are said to be notes not in any scale, not even the chromatic scale, usually b3, b5, b7, but others might occur.
      And more specifically about the flatted 3. , in an interview Matt Schofield, mentions, that he never plays the minor 3. because it simply doesn’t sound good, but he sure plays the flatted 3. a lot. So it seems that theory and MS agrees, that the minor 3. and the flatted 3. are not the same thing , even though, that it’s often said that they are.
      Using my ears, I have noticed two different commonly used ways of playing the flatted third in blues & jazz. One is (on the guitar) fingering the minor third and adding a slight bend. The other is fingering the second and bending up to approximately halfway between the 2 and the minor third. I tend to think of the first as being more “majorish” sounding and the other to be more “minorish”, but that’s just me.
      I don’t know if the blue notes can even be explained, since they, as I understand it, don’t have a specific pitch as other notes, but I would very much like to hear your view on the subject and how to deal with them if possible.

      • JohnnyB

        BB King did a LOT with just 4 notes, he was a master of blues improvisation, so I’m gonna hazard a guess that THOSE 4 notes he played the most are the most important. Any takers?

    • Manuel

      Thanks, Griff, but at 7:00 when you play minor box 1 and you switch to major, are you switching to box 2 starting both on the A 5th fret?

      • Griff Hamlin

        Yes, I am, exactly.

    • Anthony

      When I experiment I find things that sound cool sometimes. I found those but I didn’t know why. Now that I do I don’t have to reinvent them for each box. I can use the. “Manipulate the. 3 and 7”suggestion . Much easier for my limited brain to handle especially under the pressure of “ok take the solo “

      • JohnnyB


    • Donovan Hulbert

      I guess everybody’s gone.

    • Dean Waring

      Awesome video!!!

    • Interstate slim

      Thanks griff, I have been trying to incorporate this more often. Helps keep solos a little more interesting. Enjoy your day

    • Kenneth E Looney

      Thanks Griff! And love that “new” Strat!

    • Bob

      Wow …, very nice!
      Changing the perspective (of what we do over and over again) to a theoretical way concerning minor / major obviously can open your level of understanding of what you’re playing. Great insight and help for me. Thank you, very well explained.

    • Allan Schick

      Thanks Griff – excellent video outlining the process. As I’m self-isolated in Canada because of the coronavirus, this will be something I will start on immediately. Very beneficial. 👍

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