Digging into the blues

Open Position E Blues scale (With Extension)

Apart from the common moveable pentatonic and blues scale forms, many Blues licks make use of the open position Blues scale and its extension, particularly in the key of E as shown below. The following solo is derived from this scale. It is based on ideas from the playing of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Jimi Hendrix. The important thing here is the feel and use of expressive techniques such as slides, bends and trills. A trill is a series of repeated hammer-ons and pull-offs between two notes.

Open E scale diagram

It is indicated in the notation by the symbol tr above the TAB. This solo was played using the fingers of the right hand,, but can also be played with a pick. If you are using a pick, you will need to combine it with fingers to play the lick over the A7 chord in bars 5 and 6. Practice it slowly until you have it under control and then try playing along with the recording.

If you haven’t listened to much Blues, it is worth investigating because the first electric guitar players were Blues players and almost all the techniques used by lead guitarists (e.g. string bending and distortion) were invented by them. You will also pick up a tremendous amount about feel, timing and phrasing by listening to traditional blues players like the ones mentioned here. Some other important lead guitar innovators include T–Bone Walker, BB King, Otis Rush, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Freddy King, Magic Sam, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Albert Collins.

Echoes (P. Gelling)

A full length version of this track featuring the voice of Howlin’ Wolf can be found on my album Bluestime, which is available from www.bentnotes.com

Echoes notation: Page 1 | Page 2