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learn guitar  | bluegrass guitar | guitar scales

  

               Bluegrass Guitar Scales

 

  At first glance, bluegrass guitar scales appear to be similar to
  country guitar scales. While the basic scales as similar the way
  these scales are played on the guitar creates a whole new world
  of exciting music.

  Except for some of the old rhythm-only players like Lester Flatt
  and Carter Stanley, who used a thumbpick and one fingerpick,
  bluegrass guitar is almost always played with a flatpick.

  The main primary bluegrass guitar scales are: the major
  pentatonic, the major diatonic scale and the mixo-lydian mode.

  G major pentatonic

  -----------------------------------------------------
  -----------------------------------------------------
  -------------------------------0---------------------
  -------------------0-----2---------------------------
  -------0-----2---------------------------------------
  --3--------------------------------------------------


  G major pentatonic (2 octave version)

  -------------------------------------------------------0-----3--
  --------------------------------------------0-----3-------------
  -------------------------------0-----2--------------------------
  -------------------0-----2--------------------------------------
  -------0-----2--------------------------------------------------
  --3-------------------------------------------------------------



  G major pentatonic 2 octaves (alternative pattern)

  ----------------------------------------------------------------
  --------------------------------------------------------------8-
  --------------------------------------------------7-----9-------
  -------------------------------5-----7------9-------------------
  -------------------5-----7--------------------------------------
  --3-----5-----7-------------------------------------------------



  G major diatonic scale

  -----------------------------------------------------------
  -----------------------------------------------------------
  ------------------------------------------0----------------
  ------------------------0-----2-----4----------------------
  --------0-----2----3---------------------------------------
  --3--------------------------------------------------------



  G Mixo-Lydian mode

  -----------------------------------------------------------
  -----------------------------------------------------------
  ------------------------------------------0----------------
  ------------------------0-----2-----3----------------------
  --------0-----2----3---------------------------------------
  --3--------------------------------------------------------


  Other guitar scales commonly used in bluegrass music are: the
  blues scale and the minor pentatonic scale.


  G blues scale

  -----------------------------------------------------
  -----------------------------------------------------
  -----------------------------------------------------
  -----------------------------3----5------------------
  -------------3----4----5-----------------------------
  --3----6---------------------------------------------



  G blues scale (2 octave version)

  --------------------------------------------------------------3--
  -----------------------------------------------------3----7------
  ---------------------------------------3----5----6---------------
  -----------------------------3----5------------------------------
  -------------3----4----5-----------------------------------------
  --3----6---------------------------------------------------------



  G minor pentatonic scale

  -----------------------------------------------------
  -----------------------------------------------------
  -----------------------------------------------------
  -------------------------------3------5--------------
  ----------------3------5-----------------------------
  --3------6-------------------------------------------



  G minor pentatonic scale (2 octave version)

  --------------------------------------------------------------3--
  ---------------------------------------------------3----7--------
  --------------------------------------3------5-------------------
  -------------------------3-----5---------------------------------
  -------------3-----5---------------------------------------------
  --3-----6--------------------------------------------------------


  One of the limiting factors for most guitarists when learning
  bluegrass guitar scales is developing right hand speed/strength
  The hardest thing about bluegrass guitar is keeping up the
  relentless flow of eighth notes from one end of a solo to the
  other.

  Jazz guitarists call this endless stream of eighth notes melodic
  continuity. If you want to hear great examples of melodic
  continuity playing in bluegrass music have a listen to guitarist
  Tony Rice. Rice is one of the all-time greats as far as bluegrass
  guitar is concerned.

  I would also recommend listening to other fine bluegrass players:
  Doc Watson, Clarence White, Darol Anger, Norman Blake, Sam Bush,
  Vassar Clements. This is what a good bluegrass music is all
  about.

  Although you can play bluegrass music on any guitar, the ideal
  bluegrass guitar is a dreadnought acoustic guitar.

  Another feature of bluegrass guitar scales is the use of guitar
  techniques such as hammer-on's and pull-off's and slides in
  preference to bends.

  Often the bluegrass guitarist will play a scale in a linear
  fashion as opposed to the more conventional lateral version.


  G major diatonic scale (linear version)

  ---3----5----7----8----10----12----14-----15--------------
  ------------------------------------------------------------
  ------------------------------------------------------------
  ------------------------------------------------------------
  ------------------------------------------------------------
  ------------------------------------------------------------

  Here's another way to play the same scale, this is a descending
  version of the  G major diatonic scale, the open strings give a
  cascading effect.

  ---------------0-------------------------------------------
  ---8-----7---------------------0---------------------------
  --------------------7----5-----------------0---------------
  ------------------------------------7----------------------
  -----------------------------------------------------------
  -----------------------------------------------------------


  It's quite common for a bluegrass song to have a chord
  progression derived from the minor pentatonic scale while the
  guitarist solos over the progression with a mixo-lydian mode.


  Sample bluegrass chord progression:

  G      G      F      F      D      D      G      G
  //// | //// | //// | //// | //// | //// | //// | //// :||


  If bluegrass makes you smile, these bluegrass guitar scales will
  have you grinning from ear to ear.


   

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