There are a lot of different tunes that, while “bluesy,” aren’t really blues songs (they aren’t a 12 bar blues.)

This particular progression, which is used in songs like, “Blue On Black,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and a lot of other classic rock and “blues” tunes, lends itself really well to experimenting with both the major and minor blues and pentatonic scales.

So, in this video, I’ll show you the progression, how I put it in the looper, and how I go back and forth between those major and minor pentatonic scales to hear how they work and how they create contrast when used together.

    19 replies to "Using Both Pentatonics Over “Bluesy” Chord Changes"

    • greg

      Hey Griff, been trying this out on different tunes and progressions. seems to work pretty good with southern rock but It does not work for other songs and progressions. Any tips on determining when to use this and when its going to sound totally off.

    • Stephen Wayne Dellinger

      Don’t play the D major run so fast. Can’t follow. Otherwise you are the greatest. Thanks

    • greg

      excellent lesson. Ive watched your other videos on this topic but this is by far the easiest to understand and apply . Thank!

    • Fred


      Does this only work on those two chord progressions? Does it work on a standard 12 bar blues progression ?


    • Kevin

      Really fabulous, Griff. You have spoken about not using the three-frets-down technique to play the major pentatonic sound, so I was a little surprised to see you use it here

      • Griff

        I didn’t, make sure you don’t misunderstand me. I used a direct finger to the root of the major key. Yes, it happens to be 3 frets away, but I never look at it that way. I’m looking directly at a root note, and placing a certain finger directly on that root note for the given sound.

    • Gaston Collin

      Great stuff Griff thanks so much you are the greatest!

    • Paul Kingston

      Mixolydian mode!

    • Matt

      This was a great lesson! If the key is G but the tone keeps going back to C, for example, does the same concept apply, or does this work particularly well when D is the focus? I’ll okay with it in a looper, but wanted your thoughts. I thought since the key is G you would focus on G major or minor pentatonic, but I’m learning a little each day.

    • Dirk

      Hi Griff. Great video! I would have thought this progression was in the key of G based on the V, IV and I progression too. Now that you’ve shown how a song can be tonally centered on the V chord, and shown how the D minor and D major pentatonic works to reflect the tonal center of D, it would be illuminating for you to build on that – quick refresh – and then explore what would happen tonally if we concluded we should play the E minor or G major pentatonic scales. Contrast the four pentatonic scales, maybe even throw in the missing potentially dissonant notes?

    • Bill C.

      Good stuff, and it was sort of an epiphany for me. You mentioned Skynrd and Kenny Wayne Shepard and payed a pretty brief tribute to Marshall Tucker. I’ve been a huge fan of Toy Caldwell from the git go and never could quite get what he did. Now I have a much better defined clue as to what he was doing. Matter of fact, you actually sounded more like him to my ear than the others. I’ll have to revisit some older stuff and see how this works. Thanks!

    • Bill

      Super cool Griff. Thanks! As always.

    • JamesBgoode

      Hey Griff!
      I have seen you cover this before, probably a few times over the last ten or twelve years. But I don’t think I have enjoyed it quite as much as I have this time. Thanks Buddy! I’ve been playing some Gordon Lightfoot chord progressions D, C, G, and A.
      I’ve just been noodling around with it. I like the sound, and I have fun, and that’s what it’s all about of course. But this lesson will take it to a whole new level.
      It’s after midnight here in Oz and I have to get up early, and I’m going to feel it in the morning. But I don’t care I’ve watched the video twice so far, and I’m going to watch it a few more times. Man it is so Cool. Thanks again.

    • Bob Kizik

      I’ve always wondered how it was possible for a guitarist to play so effortlessly for such a long stretch of time…thanks for pointing out how they do it! Griff, you’re an amazing guitarist and an amazing teacher. I hope to be able to do what you just did so flawlessly in this video

    • Papa

      Have you ever had one of those moments where you felt like Homer Simpson?
      I just did while watching this video. Having played for a few years, I thought I had the major/minor pentatonic thing down, but the idea of locating if you’re playing major or minor based on where your pinky lives is one of those things I had never thought about. For all this time, I’ve been anchoring based on where my index finger stays. When Griff casually mentioned it, I heard “DOH” inside my head. It’s one of those things that is so obvious, it never crossed my mind.
      You’ll excuse me now, I need to locate a Duff’s beer or two to celebrate my newfound “discovery.”

    • Phil Berger

      Really like the basis on this vid. Just started messing around with a looper and playing over backing tracks. Mostly in A. Seeing how things translate to a non traditional blues, awesome. Blue on Black is a song I am just learning to play and will now be able to add a lead!!

      Always thankful for your input!

      Phil Berger

    • Gary John Hiles

      My absolute all time favourite video, big fan of Blue on Black, and I shall be back to watch this many times. Great tone and use of the scales. A big insight for me. Thank you.

    • danny lee head

      what a great demo of the pentetonics Thank you so much for these vids. Bless you!

    • K moree from Thibodaux Louisiana

      Great illustration , I actually was looking at blue on black a day or so ago but your explanation of us ing both major and minor was what I needed . It explains to me also that g/c/d isn’t necessarily the key of g for us blues
      fans . Love that 69 ‘ strat it one little scratch that visually tells a story . Thanks as always
      Master Griff 😁

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