Learn a Harmonized Blues Scale – Easy and Fun!
My inspiration for this column is from Rich Severson, guitarist, and host of GuitarCollege.com. Rich is one of the smoothest jazz players I’ve seen on the internet – his left-hand chord playing is like butter! Check out his site for a vast number of materials for very reasonable prices.
I had never seen this simple – (I mean simple!) – “trick” to get some great sounds for playing on the blues. Technically, it is called a “harmonized blues scale.”
Here is a typical 12 bar blues in G.
G7 G7 G7 G7
C7 C7 G7 G7
D7 C7 G7 G7
Look at the G minor pentatonic blues scale from the 3rd fret – sometimes called the “box 1” position.
Now you are going to make a D minor chord shape, with the top note placed on each pentatonic note of the high E string like this:
See Video 1 below for a demonstration.
You can play this shape up and down the neck over the progression and sound hip. Think like a horn player and make some “punches” with these chords. Try soloing a bit and adding the punches in between for variation – like a horn section would.
See Video 2 below for playing demonstration.
Try Some Variations
This great trick works for blues in any key by using the corresponding minor pentatonic scale.
Ex: Bb blues progression? – no problem, use the above chord shapes based on Bb minor blues scale.
Your goal is get loose moving the shapes up and down the neck over a G blues track. Play what sounds good to you.
A quick fun way to add more variety to your playing!
I hope you enjoyed this and let me know what you think in the comments. Theory questions welcome!
A little extra: You can also transpose that D minor chord shape to the next string set (3-4-5 / D-G-B) to extend the lower range. (See my column on chord transposition). Let me know if you give that a try.