Mix Major and Minor Pentatonics Like BB King

Lesson ID: TB004

When you hear BB King, you absolutely know it!

Part of his unmistakable sweet sound is his ability to weave in and out of major and minor pentatonics at just the right time.

The lick we cover in this lesson mimics some of BB’s prowess in blending both the A Major Pentatonic and A Minor Pentatonic Scales. Before getting into the lick, I think it’s important to understand why you should want to learn this skill.

Why You Should Mix Major and Minor Pentatonics

There are two huge reasons that I advocate learning licks that combine major and minor pentatonics.

  1. Tonal Variety – You gain an unbelievable amount of options to express yourself when you develop the ability to slip in and out of the main scale. This comes in handy when you’re improvising.
  2. Confidence – Knowing when to step out of a scale will be a huge confidence boost on the fretboard. You’ll be a little more equipped to venture out of the tried and true patterns. That’s when the good stuff happens.

How to Play a Lick that Blends the Two Scales

There are a couple of things to keep in mind while you’re working through this video.

First, as I mentioned in the video, this lick is purposely over one chord. I want you to hear the major versus minor tonalities in the scale without much else going on musically. To say it another way, when the chord doesn’t change, then we can focus on just the lead.

Second, the real art of mixing the two scales is in the subtlety. Notice how I’m not abruptly changing from one scale to the other. I’m moving in and out of the two scales in a way that is very natural.

Thank You, Mr. King

There’s no doubt about it, this lick is a clear tip-of-the-hat to B.B. King. That’s a nice way of saying rip-off. 🙂

I can’t think of a better player to teach us the art of expression. Personally, I think he’s the most expressive player around.

I’d like to hear from you though.  Who do you think is the most expressive player in blues?


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