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Blues Guitar Institute

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Learn the Blues Scale with the One String Approach

Lesson ID: TB040

Guitar players love playing in box patterns, shapes and so forth. That way of thinking has its application, but if you really want to learn a scale – I mean get down to the heart of the matter – I strongly encourage you to learn the scale on one single string.

I tend to break things down into their simplest form. I guess I bring that old KISS approach to problem solving to the guitar.  Learning scales is one area where keeping things simple has its rewards.  In its most basic sense each scale is just a series of notes. The notes are played in a set sequence of intervals. It’s the intervals that give each scale its own unique sound.

If It Ain’t Broke, Break it!

I believe most conventional guitar methods complicate scales unnecessarily by introducing scales to guitarists crossing strings.  It’s just plain hard to see the scale when you move across the strings.

Yes, I said see.  Not hear.

The conventional methods sound exactly the same as the approach I’m going to introduce to you. But the difference is in the visual reinforcement built in to this alternative way of learning scales.

The Alternative?

Lately, I have been playing and practicing my scales using a one string approach. I wrote about that in detail here:

I Wish I Learned All My Scales This Way

In short, there is so much to be gained by actually seeing the intervals (spaces between the notes) when you have to move your hand up the neck. You see the climb. You see the distance.  You see the interval.

Something gets lost for new (and sometimes no-so-new) guitarists when you shift strings and have to adjust for the differences in how the strings are tuned. I don’t want to confuse this issue, let’s just say that things aren’t so straightforward using the conventional, positional approach to learning your scales.

Give Me Some Scales

Hopefully, you’ll read this and feel compelled to practice your scales on one string.  If so, grab the TAB for this lesson and give it a whirl.  This lesson focuses on the blues scale in A, but I really encourage you to check out the introduction to one-string thinking here:

I Wish I Learned All My Scales This Way

Then, move on and learn the minor pentatonic scale on one string by checking out this lesson:

A Different Approach to the Minor Pentatonic Scale

Once you have those two down, you’ll be ready to learn the blues scale (or just practice it to get the same benefits) using the one string approach.

Good luck with this, it’s a fun way to shake things up if you’ve been playing and practicing your scales the same way for decades like I have and it’s also a great way to approach learning the blues scale if you’ve never delved deeply into it.

Enjoy and Play On!

When you are ready, there are two ways I can help you:

Back Porch Blues Course:  A proven system to fingerpicking the blues.  This step-by-step course guides you through building fundamental fingerpicking skills.  Plus, you’ll learn three levels of a delta blues style performance study to put your new skills into action.

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