Learning Rockabilly Guitar Scales


Minor Blues Scale

  • The Minor Blues Scale is a staple of any Rockabilly guitarist's repertoire. The scale sounds very "bluesy" and is the most versatile of any scale in terms of application. This scale can be used to solo over major, minor, dominant 7th and minor 7th chords, which makes it the "go-to" scale when soloing over unfamiliar or difficult chord changes. The scale is built by stacking the following intervals: Root, m3rd, P4th, A4th, P5th and m7th, with the A4th being the "blues note". The given example shows a G minor blues scale written in notation and tablature. Once you have learned the scale in the key of G, try learning it in several other keys. To do this, simply move the scale shape up or down the neck; the first note of the scale will tell you what key you are in.

Major Blues Scale

  • Once you have learned the minor blues scale, you're ready to move on to its close relative, the major blues scale. This scale produces a "country" or "swing" sound when used in a solo, and is much less "bluesy" than its minor cousin. It is also less versatile, as it can only be used to play over major and dominant 7th chords, which means that when the chord changes, the scale must change with it. The major blues scale is built by stacking the following intervals: R, M2, m3, M3, P5, M6, with the m3 being the "blues" note. The given example is written out in the key of G. As with the minor blues scale, make sure to learn this fingering in a number of keys. That way, you will be better prepared to apply it to a practical situation.

Mixolydian Scale

  • The most complicated scale used in rockabilly music is the mixolydian scale. Similar in nature to the major blues scale, this scale can be used to solo over major and dominant 7th chords. It produces a "jazzy" sound that provides contrast to the "blues" and "country" sounds of the other two scales. While the other two scales contain six different notes, the mixolydian scale contains seven. The scale is built by stacking the following intervals: R, M2, M2, P4, P5, M6, m7. For those who have already learned the major scale, it may be easier to think of the mixolydian scale as a major scale with the seventh note lowered by one fret.

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