Jamie Holroyd Guitar

Jamie Holroyd Guitar

Blues Scale Licks Guitar Study

Blues Scale Licks Guitar Study

This article contains 5 blues scale licks to help expand your jazz guitar vocabulary and soloing skills.

The blues scale licks are presented in a 12 bar blues etude in conjunction with chords.

The formula for this etude is always one bar of a shell voicing using the charleston rhythm followed by one bar of single line playing using the blues scale.

This type of call and response playing between chords and single lines is reminiscent of players such as Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery.

If you are new to the scales, chords and rhythms used in this study, it is essential that you isolate each of these elements.

For example, learn the blues scale licks first, and when you can play them smoothly, add the chords.



Blues Scale Licks Resources


If you are not familiar with the blues scale, the diagram below shows a common two octave fingering.

Practice playing up and down the scale slowly to begin with, ensuring that each note has tone and clarity.


blues scale licks


The blues scale licks study is broken down into four bar segments below. A full PDF download of the etude is available and the accompanying audio example can be played below.


Ethan Blues Exercise Audio



Blues Scale Licks Study Bars 1 — 4


As explained in the introduction, the formula for this blues scale licks study is 1 bar of chords and 1 bar of single line playing.

So bars 1 and 3 contain chords and bars 2 and 4 contain blues scale licks.

Both of these blues scale licks are from the Kenny Burrell School of phrasing. The second lick in bar 4 is a only descending blues scale with a common jazz rhythm pattern.


Blues Scale Licks for Guitar Bars 1 - 4


Blues Scale Licks Study Bars 5 — 8


Pedal ideas always lend themselves well to blues scale licks. The lick in bar 6 is an example of this, as the Bb is used as a pedal, giving the line a funky/blues feel.

The next single line example may look a bit fearsome in notation, so you might want to use the audio example provided.

This lick demonstrates how effective guitar techniques such as slides and slurs are when creating blues scale licks.


Blues Scale Licks for Guitar Bars 5 - 8



Blues Scale Licks Study Bars 9 – 12


The final four bars of this blues scale licks etude contains a new minor 7th shell voicing.

I used a II-7 voicing to keep the etude strictly to the jazz blues form.

However, the V7 (F7 in this key) can sound more asthetically correct.

The final two blues licks use the techniques dicsussed earlier such as slides, and common jazz rhythm patterns in new ways.


Blues Scale Licks for Guitar Bars 9 - 12


When you can play this etude a couple of times through smoothly, have a go at creating your own using the ‘1 bar of chords — 1 bar of single line’ formula.

This formula can also be reversed, meaning that you start with 1 bar of single lines then playing 1 bar of chords.

Click here to watch a video of this concept explained by Matt Warnock.

What are some of your favorite ways of practicing blues scale licks? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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