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Unread 09-10-2011, 01:38 AM   #1
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I need some advice on learning blues guitar?

Okay, here's the deal. I got my first guitar (a cheapie $100 folk guitar) as a birthday present when I was about 18 years old. I have always loved music. I was inspired to play guitar by listening to Steven Curtis Chapman.

Now, over 10 years later...I have been playing on and off. I have a much better guitar now. It's an acoustic-electrinc Takamine EG440SSC. I love the sound of it. I do not play through an amp or have an amp at this time. Over the years, I have leaned more towards a love of Blues/Jazz guitar. Blues really hits home for me. Also, since before I even played guitar...ever since I can remember I have heard notes/music in my head. Some days I get a headache from what seems like a constant playback of various types of Blues-like solo riffs of sorts. I didn't know what to actually call them during the days when I knew nothing about guitar. I find that it's like a blues guitar player in my head that changes pitch/tone/notes based on my thought and creative pattern. So it's like I can 'play' blues guitar in my head, if that makes sense...and alter/write patterns/sounds as I go along. I find that it really helps me in writing guitar songs and riffs in general.

I have recently taken up an interest in learning more about guitar scales. I have looked up scales online, but they're confusing. I can play and memorize basic scales (for instance, the Pentatonic E Blues that I just randomly found the other day online). I memorized the the pattern on each string in the 9th position. Once I had that memorized, I was flidding with different string combinations and trying to improve with that sole small scale by itself....basically trying to make a quick solo and see if I could do it by improvising. I also went up and down the fretboard trying different keys (though I didn't even know what each movement to other frets signified what specific key that I was playing in, because I don't know enough about the keys). But I want to UNDERSTAND how people like BB King, Eric Clapton, SRV, etc. just seem to pop notes off the top of their head and they all sound good matter what, when improvising. I know they're following scale patterns even when improvising. But where can I get a better and simpler understanding of scales? All of the keys and paterns seem overwhelming when I look at how many patterns there are.

I can't afford a guitar teacher. I have my basic 12 years of on and off guitar playing...I know about the pull-offs, hammer-ons, etc. I'm a decent fingerpicker. I have recently started learning string bending, since there is a LOT of that in Blues. I can make some pretty decent sounding bends, but I don't have a trained ear to be able to tell if I'm bending from say...the 9th fret to the 8th or 7th, and I don't even "know" which notes would be on the 7th or 8th fret that I would be bending to. I basically lack the technical knowledge of notes/scales. While I "learned" the pattern of that E Blues scale the other day...I didn't learn about notes or sounds. I learned where to put my fingers. Someone told me that "musicians don't think about things in terms of where their fingers need to go, they think about what sounds they need to play". I am trying to learn to do that. I don't have a trained ear to where I can tune my guitar by ear, for instance. But I can distinguish notes and play around until I find what sounds good together, to make a little improvised blues solo...even though I do not know what notes or scales I am playing in. I'm not trying to become like Clapton or SRV overnight...I realize they are kind of like prodigies. I want to learn basic stuff and learn to compose my own stuff, at least. Is there a guitar scales book that actually explains stuff in simple words and not technical guitar speech, half of which I don't know what they're talking about? Does such a thing exist in simplified form?

Also...why do I "hear" music so often? Why do I hear these Jazzy/Bluesy solos and notes in my head so frequently? Do all musically inclined people hear such things? Even with typical songs that I have heard...I can play them back in my head and remember the exact pitch and notes of guitar that were in the song, for instance. I wouldn't consider myself even close to a "prodigy" in any way...I do realize that the more I delve into music, the more I love it. I seem to learn guitar rapidly. My biggest influence now is SRV and Clapton.

Are there any simple books that can help me? I've read some of the threads...is Fretboard Logic any good or worth buying at all? Will it help me? I watch instructional videos online that show how to play different Blues riffs and scales. I just want to learn more about them to memorize them. How do artists memorize all of these scale patterns to play them in each key and keep track of the key they are in? That's what blows me away.

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Unread 09-10-2011, 07:11 AM   #2
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If you have an ear to hear, the best way to learn most anything is to listen to it and then play it.
If you want to learn the blues, listen to the blues, but be certain to do more than just learn notes to play; learn the attitude, the expression, the feeling, the emotion that the notes are played with.

As far as learning scales, start with a couple and memorize them in several positions on the neck and then learn more. For me, I learned them slowly, studying the note names in the scales and also the interval structure of the scales. Intervals are the distance between any two notes and learning them helped me to understand scales, chords, melody and harmony.

A lot of how artists learn scales and riffs and leads and such is simply by constant repetition. The guitar is really a very logical instrument and much of what we play on it is little more than shapes and patterns. Memorize the shapes and patterns and then interject your own personal attitude into those shapes and patterns and *Voila!* you're a guitar player.
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Unread 09-10-2011, 09:51 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by gtrdave View Post
If you have an ear to hear, the best way to learn most anything is to listen to it and then play it.
If you want to learn the blues, listen to the blues, but be certain to do more than just learn notes to play; learn the attitude, the expression, the feeling, the emotion that the notes are played with.

As far as learning scales, start with a couple and memorize them in several positions on the neck and then learn more. For me, I learned them slowly, studying the note names in the scales and also the interval structure of the scales. Intervals are the distance between any two notes and learning them helped me to understand scales, chords, melody and harmony.

A lot of how artists learn scales and riffs and leads and such is simply by constant repetition. The guitar is really a very logical instrument and much of what we play on it is little more than shapes and patterns. Memorize the shapes and patterns and then interject your own personal attitude into those shapes and patterns and *Voila!* you're a guitar player.

Thanks. Any suggestions on the best Blues scale books out there to begin learning little sections at a time with? It's not really the scale patterns that confused me that much. Though it does confuse me when I see a huge pattern of notes over 10 frets worth of patterns and it's hard to figure out what notes go in what order when there are 20 notes per string up and down the fretboard. As opposed to seeing a pattern span only 3 frets and being able to learn that one very quickly. Though I know that technically the 3 frets section is one little section of the whole scale pattern in itself. Maybe I'm trying to learn the whole puzzle and I only have a few pieces...
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Unread 09-10-2011, 10:25 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by singingstrings View Post
Thanks. Any suggestions on the best Blues scale books out there to begin learning little sections at a time with? It's not really the scale patterns that confused me that much. Though it does confuse me when I see a huge pattern of notes over 10 frets worth of patterns and it's hard to figure out what notes go in what order when there are 20 notes per string up and down the fretboard. As opposed to seeing a pattern span only 3 frets and being able to learn that one very quickly. Though I know that technically the 3 frets section is one little section of the whole scale pattern in itself. Maybe I'm trying to learn the whole puzzle and I only have a few pieces...

You don't really need a book. just go online and look for pictures of the blues scales, then focus on only three frets at a time, or how ever many you can handle. I prefer Chord house. Now just practice your 3 frets over and over again. The reason those great guitar players can improvise so well is cause they know their scales, and they know how the notes sound. They only reason they know all that is cause they practiced doing them repeatedly. When you spend a lot of time playing a certain scale, you will know all about that scale, which notes sound good together and so on.
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Unread 09-10-2011, 07:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by singingstrings View Post
Thanks. Any suggestions on the best Blues scale books out there to begin learning little sections at a time with? It's not really the scale patterns that confused me that much. Though it does confuse me when I see a huge pattern of notes over 10 frets worth of patterns and it's hard to figure out what notes go in what order when there are 20 notes per string up and down the fretboard. As opposed to seeing a pattern span only 3 frets and being able to learn that one very quickly. Though I know that technically the 3 frets section is one little section of the whole scale pattern in itself. Maybe I'm trying to learn the whole puzzle and I only have a few pieces...
Forget a book.
Go buy any of Eric Clapton's records or SRV or Buddy Guy or anything in the Gary Moore 'blues' era and listen to them, then emulate what you hear on your instrument.
Again, playing music is so much more than notes. Learning the notes is well and good...you can use a book for that or the internet or videos or CDs or whatever...but it's the personal expression that you put into those notes that will make them sound like something alive and unique.
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Unread 09-12-2011, 11:10 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by gtrdave View Post
If you have an ear to hear, the best way to learn most anything is to listen to it and then play it.
If you want to learn the blues, listen to the blues, but be certain to do more than just learn notes to play; learn the attitude, the expression, the feeling, the emotion that the notes are played with.

As far as learning scales, start with a couple and memorize them in several positions on the neck and then learn more. For me, I learned them slowly, studying the note names in the scales and also the interval structure of the scales. Intervals are the distance between any two notes and learning them helped me to understand scales, chords, melody and harmony.

A lot of how artists learn scales and riffs and leads and such is simply by constant repetition. The guitar is really a very logical instrument and much of what we play on it is little more than shapes and patterns. Memorize the shapes and patterns and then interject your own personal attitude into those shapes and patterns and *Voila!* you're a guitar player.
So one more question...when I go to that chord house website (or any website, for that matter) and look up a certain scale. Say for instance that I look up the Pentatonic Blues in C in standard EADGBE tuning. I see numbers that aren't on regular scales:

I see patterns of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 separately in different patterns and in different areas of the fretboard. Yet other scales do not show "number patterns" at all on them, like the E Blues scales that I got on another website. Why do some have numbers and others do not? Do the notes have a certain order that they have to be played in to really sound good and relate to one another? Is that what the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 pattern is for?

Secondly, I see the other set of numbers: b3, b5, b7. Only they do not appear to be in order at all...usually doing doing odd like b3, b7, b3, b7, b5, b7, b3, etc.

What are both of these sets of numbers and how do I break it down so that I can logically learn how to actually put these numbers into playing them? Thanks...
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Unread 09-12-2011, 11:53 AM   #7
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the numbers (1-7) show the position of the note in that scale. For instance, ever E in the G major scale is numbered 6 because it is the sixth note in the G major scale. The '1' is the first note of the scale, or the root note, so in the G major scale 'G' is always '1'. The notes do not have to be played in any order, just what ever order you think sounds right. The b3, b5, and b7 means that you would flat the 3, 5, or 7th note of the scale. The third note of every G major scale is 'b'. So, for every 3 there is, you know it is a B note. If it is b3, it is a B flat note. If you know your scales, you can go back through every one and rename the notes with numbers. I'd suggest learning the scales, and also learning them in numbers. It makes transposing extremely simple.

*Someone else may be able to explain this better, but I thought I would try and help.
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Unread 09-12-2011, 12:46 PM   #8
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the numbers (1-7) show the position of the note in that scale. For instance, ever E in the G major scale is numbered 6 because it is the sixth note in the G major scale. The '1' is the first note of the scale, or the root note, so in the G major scale 'G' is always '1'. The notes do not have to be played in any order, just what ever order you think sounds right. The b3, b5, and b7 means that you would flat the 3, 5, or 7th note of the scale. The third note of every G major scale is 'b'. So, for every 3 there is, you know it is a B note. If it is b3, it is a B flat note. If you know your scales, you can go back through every one and rename the notes with numbers. I'd suggest learning the scales, and also learning them in numbers. It makes transposing extremely simple.

*Someone else may be able to explain this better, but I thought I would try and help.

So do the scales extend beyond the 13 or so frets listed in the diagram? Will I need to play beyond that, or do they simply repeat? Any idea where I can find a full diagram of the entire fretboard online with scales in a similar manner?
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Unread 09-12-2011, 01:00 PM   #9
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So do the scales extend beyond the 13 or so frets listed in the diagram? Will I need to play beyond that, or do they simply repeat? Any idea where I can find a full diagram of the entire fretboard online with scales in a similar manner?
Well, the notes at fret twelve are the same as the strings open, the notes at fret 13 are same as the notes at fret 1, 14 and 2 are the same, so on. So the scales repeat themselves.

I looked around real quick on google and could not find a diagram for the whole fret board. But if you want to play up past fret twelve(since most diagrams I've seen, and I've only used a couple, end at twelve), just start playing 13 as 1, 14 as 2, 15 as 3, ect. Does that make sense?
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Unread 09-12-2011, 01:11 PM   #10
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Well, the notes at fret twelve are the same as the strings open, the notes at fret 13 are same as the notes at fret 1, 14 and 2 are the same, so on. So the scales repeat themselves.

I looked around real quick on google and could not find a diagram for the whole fret board. But if you want to play up past fret twelve(since most diagrams I've seen, and I've only used a couple, end at twelve), just start playing 13 as 1, 14 as 2, 15 as 3, ect. Does that make sense?

Yep, it does. Thanks.
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Unread 09-12-2011, 01:18 PM   #11
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So do the scales extend beyond the 13 or so frets listed in the diagram? Will I need to play beyond that, or do they simply repeat? Any idea where I can find a full diagram of the entire fretboard online with scales in a similar manner?
Memorize the following notes:

A - A# (or Bb) - B - C - C# (or Db) - D - D# (or Eb) - E - F - F# (or Gb) - G - G# (or Ab) - A and repeat over and over again.

Those are the only 12 notes you'll need to know. Ascending, they will always follow that pattern. Descending, they'll be backward. Those notes occur on the guitar on all of the strings.
On the A string, that pattern starts with the open string and goes up to the 12th fret and then repeats.
On the E strings, the pattern starts with the open E string and then follows through, repeating just like on the A string.
On the G, D and B strings it's exactly the same: starts with the open string note and follows the pattern from there.

So, to answer your question, yes, the scales do extend beyond what might be shown on a particular diagram, but they simply repeat and go up or down an octave or more.

Again, start with a few scales and practice them in several positions before you move on. The guitar can be an overwhelming instrument to learn, especially because of the redundancy or repetition of notes, so learning it in parts and segments is, imho, the way to go without suffering from invormation overload.
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Unread 12-02-2012, 08:13 AM   #12
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the best blues is played without thinking about notes or technique. you have to just memorize the notes all around the neck, and then train your fingers to automatically stay on them. then train your mind to forget all you just learned. then just listen to that music you said you have in your head, and the holy spirit within you, and go for it. true blues comes from real emotion, real life experience, and comes from the heart. anything else is just "bluesy" sounding music, or "blues-based" riffs, whick sound just like they are: a non-blues guitarist playing a blues riff because they want to sound bluesy. hope that makes sense.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 12:26 PM   #13
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I have to agree with jimmy. Blues is all about feel. Personally, I would start with the 12 bar blues. This is one of the most common blues riff, if not THE most common. Once you get that hammered down, learn the different positions of the blues scale, and find some blues guitar licks. The more you play you'll soon find out what scale pattern those licks fit in. Also, listen to some blues music, but be warned...most blues music is secular. Here are a few good artists: B.B. King, Albert King, Taj Mahal, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jonny Lang, and Eric Clapton (more blues rock)...there are so many more artists out there. Just explore!
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Unread 12-06-2012, 11:20 PM   #14
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To help with the bending, do a basic exercise so you can hear what a 1/2 step bend and a whole step bend sounds like:

Find a string and fret you want to start on (for the sake of the example, say start on the 8th fret of the G String). Now, play the note on the 8th fret. Then play the note on the 9th fret. Play those two notes back in forth until you can hear the interval in your head. Now play the note on the 8th fret, then bend the string until you hit the same pitch that the 9th fret gives you, then release the bend. That is a 1/2 step bend. Do that a few times to see if you can hit it, and play each fret to get a reference in case you forget. Repeat until it becomes natural.

Repeat process for whole step bend (except instead of the 8th and 9th fret it's going to be the 8th and 10th fret).
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