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Thread: Blues box patterns

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    Registered User JimRichter's Avatar
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    When I learned to play electric guitar, I learned movable blues (pentatonic) box patterns/scales way before I learned anything (maybe even my first chord!).

    We use them on mandolin, even though we probably don't know them as "box" patterns/scales.

    The purpose of the box pattern is for the musician to get around on the fretboard and transpose from key to key easily. It also allows you to move your licks anywhere on the fretboard. It's all a matter of knowing where your root or "pivot" note is.

    When someone tells me to play in a key I normally don't play in (say Ab), I can fake my way through by knowing what box patterns I can use for that scale and what's appropriate to the tune. I'm not the greatest musician ever (not by a long shot), but I'm rarely intimidated to sit in with someone. I can usually get around a bit. These box patterns are part of it. And even though I know all my major and minor scales, this is much more familiar to me and is great fodder for lick creation.

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    Registered User JimRichter's Avatar
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    This first example is the "country" or major pentatonic blues pattern. This one is very common in bluegrass (especially among traditionalists).

    This is the same 3rd position closed scale/pattern that I used in the jump blues/swing YouTube video I did which sparked this discussion. It's movable both up or down the neck, as well as laterally. It's a very handy one.
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    Registered User JimRichter's Avatar
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    This box pattern is the one I consider the "true" blues box pattern which is based around the minor pentatonic. This is the one every blues and rock guitarist knows. You also hear it a lot in Sam Bush's funky instrumentals such as Diadem or Whadyasay? I love this pattern and use it quite a bit when I gig, since that is the type of blues I'm doing.

    This pattern shows it out of C. Again the pattern is movable both laterally and vertically. For E, you could move the whole thing up 4 frets (with the root/pivot being on the 9th fret G string). I use that E position quite a bit for soloing.
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    Registered User Amandalyn's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting this Jim- I've been working on an original Blues in E, and so this will help.
    Teri



    Teri LaMarco

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    Thanks, Jim,
    I've been floating around, but this helps to nail it.
    awm

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    Registered User ShaneJ's Avatar
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    Jim, thanks. I used to play the blues box pattern on guitar all the time, before I really even knew what I was doing. I was just copying what I heard Billy Gibbons doing, and a whole bunch of what he played seemed to fall in a box on the fretboard. I've always thought in "patterns" on the mandolin since I took it up in recent years as well. I have focused too much on the first position patterns. I need to get more into the closed position patterns to be more portable, just like on guitar.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    I didn't know they were called box patterns.
    As much as I post, I pick a whole lot more. Just sayin'
    We cannot put off living until we are ready. -- Jose Ortega Y Gasset

    The entire staff
    funny....

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    Registered User JimRichter's Avatar
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    The box pattern concept, I think, is something you only encounter on guitar. Rock/blues/country guitar is much more concerned, in my opinion, with position and lick playing than scales. All the classic guitar riffs come out of those box patterns.

    I did a little internet search on box pattern and here's a link talking about the pentatonic patterns for guitar:

    Guitar Blues Box Patterns

    Jim

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    Registered User JimRichter's Avatar
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    Here's one for Teri. This is the E blues/minor pentatonic in 1st position. This is a movable pattern, too, though I tend to use a variant of it to facilitate my licks, etc.


    Jim
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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    That first "box" position is what is called the "K" position in the Fretboard Roadmaps publication. I also think it's helpeful to know. Now I need to look at the minor box. . .

    Thanks for the great work!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

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    Registered User Amandalyn's Avatar
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    Thanks Jim for the "E" box pattern. It's easier to visualize now. One question: Since it's called a "minor pentatonic blues scale" is this for playing over a major E progression, or is this specific to the key of Em ?
    Teri
    Teri LaMarco

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    Registered Axe Offender mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by
    Since it's called a "minor pentatonic blues scale" is this for playing over a major E progression, or is this specific to the key of Em ?
    Use it for either. The whole thing with the blues scale is that you are superimposing minor (in the lead) of major in the accompaniment. When the progression is minor, your there anyway.
    Niles interviewed

    "By Grabthar's hammer, by the sons of Worvan, you shall be avenged!"

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    Registered User JimRichter's Avatar
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    The Mandocrucian is most definitely correct. Part of the uniqueness and appeal of blues is the tension created between the minor pentatonic scale and the major chords. This is the foundation of blues/jazz/R&B/soul.

    And, if you're playing in Em, then you're already there.

    Jim

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    If you guys like this, you really should check out Niles' "Bluegrass Up the Neck"!

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