Blues Scale Lead (Guitar Lesson)


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Hawkeye Herman

Blues Scale Lead

Hawkeye explains how the blues scale can be used to play lead in any song.

Taught by Hawkeye Herman in Blues Guitar with Hawkeye seriesLength: 30:57Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (03:27) Introduction Lesson Overview

At this point in the series, most of the scale information Hawkeye has presented has dealt primarily with the blues genre. The current lesson transcends the boundaries of specific genres. Consequently, Hawkeye views this as one of the most important and useful lessons in the series. Due to its importance, make sure that you do not gloss over the information presented in this lesson. If you do not understand something, make sure that you contact Hawkeye or another JamPlay instructor for help.

Lesson Objectives

-Learn how the minor pentatonic scale pattern that you have already learned can be used when improvising over major key progressions outside of the blues genre.

Music Theory Overview

Very little music theory is necessary to convey the topic of this lesson. However, you will need to understand the information below in order to get the most out of this lesson.

A. Tonalities / Key Centers

Chord progressions and melodies are typically written in what is called a "tonality." Major and minor are the two most common tonalities. The modes based on the major and minor scales are examples of tonalities as well. At this point, discussion shall be limited to the major and minor tonalities.

B. Basic Ear Training Skills

You must be able to accurately determine the key center of the song. In other words, you must know the "home base" note that the chord progressions seems to gravitate towards. If necessary review the procedure that Hawkeye outlines in lesson 24. A brief review from this lesson is provided below.

Playing with Recordings

Playing along with your favorite blues records is an excellent way to develop your rhythmic and improvisational skills. To determine the key center of a song, follow these steps:

1. Make sure your guitar is in tune. You must also know which tuning the guitarist on the recording is playing in. For example, Stevie Ray Vaughn tuned every string down a half step. Other guitarists frequently play in open tunings such as open E, open G, and open D. Occasionally, some guitarists have been known to tune the guitar down an additional 1/4 step or microtone in addition to tuning down by a half step or whole step.

2. When determining the key of the song you are trying to play along with, you must take an organized approach. Do not simply jump all over the fretboard to find the correct tonic note. Use the E strings as a guide in order to find the root note of the tonic or I chord. Ascend chromatically in half steps until you find what you believe to be the root note of the tonic chord. This chord will identify the key of the song.

3. Then, play the minor pentatonic scale in this key along with the recording to make sure that it works. If this scale doesn't work, you must start the whole process over again.

4. After working through this process several times, you will notice that finding the tonal center of a song becomes much easier.

Steps to Creating an Effective Solo

1. Determine the Tonal Center

The ear training trick that Hawkeye taught in lesson 24 will help you find the key that the song is in. Unfortunately, this process will not tell you whether the song is played in a major or minor key. You can use your ears to guide you. However, this may not be a full proof method at this point. By applying some music theory rules, you can judge whether the song is in a major or minor key. The only full proof method at this point is probably to use simple trial and error.

2. Trial and Error

Play the minor pentatonic scale in the tonal center of the song. For example, if you have determined that the tonal center or key of the song is G, improvise over the progression using the G minor pentatonic scale in third position. If the notes in the scale sound consonant against the chord progression, then you've found a winner!
At this point, you know that the minor pentatonic scale is one effective option that will work over the progression. However, we still haven't determined whether the song is in a major or minor tonality. In many situations, the minor pentatonic scale will sound consonant over a progression played in a parallel major key.

The confusing aspect to consider is that the minor pentatonic scale will work over some progressions in major keys and not others. For example, the G minor pentatonic scale will work over a blues progression in the key of G major. Both the 12 and 8 bar blues progressions are typically played in major keys. Even though they are played in major keys, the minor pentatonic scale of the same letter name is still a very effective scale option when improvising over these progressions.

Parallel Keys

Parallel keys are major and minor keys that share the same letter name. For example, C major and C minor are parallel keys. The tonal center of both keys is the note C. However, their key signatures are different by three accidentals. The key of C major has no sharps or flats in the key signature. On the other hand, the key of C minor has three flats in the key signature. Compare the spelling of the C major scale and the C minor scale listed below.

C major: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
C natural minor: C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C

3. Try the Scale Down Three Frets (Optional Step)

When playing over the progression, the minor pentatonic scale might have sounded inappropriate. If the notes clash or sound dissonant with the progression, try playing the scale down three frets (a minor third). The chord progression is most likely in a major key that the parallel minor pentatonic scale will not work with.
Chapter 2: (10:39) You Ain't Goin' Nowhere "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" is a classic song written by Bob Dylan. It consists of a basic major key progression in the key of G major. It consists of G, Am, and C - the I, ii and IV chords in G major. Hawkeye demonstrates the song at 00:39.

If you try playing the G minor pentatonic scale over this progression, it sounds awful. Instead, you need to play E minor pentatonic, which is located three frets below. Essentially, you are now using a G major pentatonic scale over the progression. G major pentatonic shares the same notes as E minor pentatonic. Compare the spellings of these two scales below:

E minor pentatonic: E, G, A, B, D, E
G major pentatonic: G, A, B, D, E, G

The relative minor pentatonic scale of the major key shares the same notes as the major pentatonic scale of the tonal center. Hawkeye solos over the progression using the G major pentatonic scale (same notes as E minor pentatonic) at 05:07 to demonstrate how this works.

Transposing the Song and Scales

When played in the key of C, "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" still consists of the I, ii, and IV chords. In the key of C, these chords are C, Dm, and F. Play C major pentatonic over this progression. This scale features the same notes as its relative minor pentatonic scale, A minor. Hawkeye plays the song in C at 08:04.
Chapter 3: (02:27) Key of A The I, ii, and IV chords of this key are A major, Bm, and D major respectively. Play A major or its relative minor pentatonic scale, F# minor.
Chapter 4: (06:21) Key of D The I, ii, and IV chords in this key are D, Em and G. Play D major pentatonic (same notes as B minor pentatonic) over the progression.
Chapter 5: (08:03) Down Three Frets The root note of the relative minor pentatonic scale is located three frets or one and a half steps down from the tonal center or key of the song. For example, when playing in the key of C, count back three half steps to find the pentatonic scale built from the relative minor key. The relative minor to C major is A minor. This trick will enable you to find the proper scale quickly without counting on your fingers.

A circle of fifths wheel is provided under the "Supplemental Content" tab for a quick reference of major keys and their relative minors.

Clarification

In the lesson video, Hawkeye says that the E minor pentatonic scale will not sound good when playing "Folsom Prison Blues" in the key of E major. This is not true. The minor pentatonic scale is quite effective when playing over a 12 bar blues in a major key. In this situation, both the E minor pentatonic scale and the E major pentatonic scale (same notes as C# minor pentatonic) will work over the progression. These two scales are frequently interspersed within a single improvised line.

Video Subtitles / Captions





Supplemental Learning Material

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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


LilliannaLillianna replied on July 11th, 2017

This is excellent.

gizbogizbo replied on January 31st, 2017

Wow. I met dozens of musicians in my life, many of them were teachers of all possible instruments and...this is the first time I ever hear this! Worth a year of Jamplay! ;-) Gisella

stevenotesstevenotes replied on January 5th, 2016

Omg Thanks Hawkeye

garmusgarmus replied on September 23rd, 2014

Thanks Hawkeye I have played the guitar for years off and on and you have taught me more in 6 mos than I have ever learned and I am 67 yrs. and I look forward to practicing and playing. Thank you

jasonstratjasonstrat replied on May 30th, 2014

YOU ARE GENIUS.......THANK YOU....

will2002will2002 replied on November 30th, 2013

One of THE best guitar lessons I have ever had! Thanks a million Hawkeye.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on December 2nd, 2013

You're most welcome, Will. Thanks for the kind words about this lesson. So glad you found it helpful and useful Please note that there are more free guitar lessons at my web site: http://hawkeyeherman.com/guitar-lessons.htm ...and please be sure to watch some of the songs on video that I have posted at youtube.com, try to play along with me, it's good practice, and try to 'steal' my licks/riffs. ideas: http://www.youtube.com/user/HawkeyeH ... also, if you're interested in blues history, there are many articles I've written on blues history and the many iconic blues musicians that I met and learned from directly over the years: http://hawkeyeherman.com/articles.htm ... I hope you continue to enjoy these lessons.

sanjuro2013sanjuro2013 replied on June 27th, 2013

The blues had a baby and they named it Hawkeye Herman! Awesome lesson! Quick question - If I were to play lead in the minor blues scale over a non-blues in major, would I change the scale along with the key that the rhythm is in? So in the Key of E when the rhythm is playing A for example I would play the blues scale in F # and when it is in B I would play the G scale? Thank you for all of your help!

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on June 27th, 2013

Thanks for your kind comments, Ryan. I'm so glad you're hangin; in there and enjoying these lessons. Your question is a good one, but you're getting ahead of yourself. Stick with the 'program'/follwoing the lessons in the order they are presented, and you'll see that there is a complete lesson that answers your question about playing the blues/minor pentatonic over a major chord non-bluesy song. I like your enthusiasm ;-) For now, I'll just tell you that, for example, if a song is in the key of C major, you can play the Am pentatonic blues scale over the entire song, regardless of the chord changes. In other words, you can play a minor scale over a major chord song by moving the pentatonic scale to the 6th (VI) chord of that key. Don't worry about it ... it's covered in a future lesson. A great deal of thought and planning has gone into the order and content of each of my lessons. ;-) I anticipate all such questions as best I can, and in this case, it's covered ... just don't go jumping ahead to look for it. It will come up in the lesson series at the appropriate time. Thanks for 'traveling' with me on the 'blues highway' here at JamPlay.com.

mstewart85mstewart85 replied on March 8th, 2012

Hi Hawkeye. Still hanging in, and this lesson was another jewel. My math is shakey, so instead of counting to the 6th note in whatever scale, I go back 1 1/2 steps from the key note. That make sense? Of course with the visual approach I won't have to do that either. The more I play the faster the new stuff comes; for this older man it's very exciting.

mstewart85mstewart85 replied on March 8th, 2012

Enter your comment here.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on January 5th, 2012

Hints for playing the song and adding variations to the accompaniment style: You should be aware, notice, that I like to add variations to "Folsom Prison Blues" by hammering on within the E chord on the 5th string from open (A note) to 2nd fret (B note) ... and also adding the low G note on the lowest E string/6th string at the 3rd fret of the 6th/E string with my pinky/little finger ... and I also sometimes play an E6 chord by adding to an E chord the note at the 2nd fret of the B/2nd string with my pinky: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.play-acoustic-guitar.com/images/E6-Free-Printable-Guitar-Chord-Chart.png&imgrefurl=http://www.play-acoustic-guitar.com/e6-guitar-chord.html&h=512&w=522&sz=93&tbnid=hLXornzXmx6K0M:&tbnh=128&tbnw=131&prev=/search%3Fq%3DE6%2Bguitar%2Bchord%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=E6+guitar+chord&hl=en&usg=__uKNHJ-_WPUeZ14QJi-EWZoLXNSg=&sa=X&ei=BrgET9_xFonYiAKmyajJDg&ved=0CCIQ9QEwBA

jtmarinojtmarino replied on January 4th, 2012

This number 77 is such a great lesson Hawkeye. It has even more benefit than the title implies. I was particularly struck by how you played the section in Scene 5 "Down Three Frets" from 4:13 to 4:47. I have been trying to duplicate your handling of the chords for Folsom Prison Blues in which you appear to embellish the treble and bass portions of those chords. It sounds great! I would love to see a short lesson on how you do that. In the meanwhile I will keep going back to the lesson and try to figure it out. I LOVE IT!

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on January 4th, 2012

Thanks so much for the kind words and for enjoying these lessons, Joe. Very much appreciated. I've given a lot of thought and planning as to the order of these lessons. I hope you follow them in the order they are presented, patiently progressing from one lesson to the next at your own speed. By following the lessons in the order they are presented you will gain a strong foundation and understanding of blues music that will serve you well and hopefully give you the tools/skills/information to play blues guitar freely and even improvise creatively. Hints on "Folsom PRison Blues": I hammer on the 5th (A) string B note of the E chord, and I sometimes play an E6 chord by adding to an E chord the note at the 2nd fret of the B/2nd string with my pinky: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.play-acoustic-guitar.com/images/E6-Free-Printable-Guitar-Chord-Chart.png&imgrefurl=http://www.play-acoustic-guitar.com/e6-guitar-chord.html&h=512&w=522&sz=93&tbnid=hLXornzXmx6K0M:&tbnh=128&tbnw=131&prev=/search%3Fq%3DE6%2Bguitar%2Bchord%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=E6+guitar+chord&hl=en&usg=__uKNHJ-_WPUeZ14QJi-EWZoLXNSg=&sa=X&ei=BrgET9_xFonYiAKmyajJDg&ved=0CCIQ9QEwBA .... I hope you continue to enjoy these lessons.

jtmarinojtmarino replied on January 5th, 2012

PERFECT....Thank you Hawkeye

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on April 22nd, 2011

Many of you have asked about the guitar I'm using in this section of my lessons. It's a 1964 Martin model O-18. It has a very small body, frequently referred to as a 'parlor guitar' ... it's referred to as a 'parlor guitar' because the O-18 body size was very popular in the late 19th and early 20th Century when folks met and played for social enjoyment and comradship in ensembles in their living rooms and parlors, before the phonograph and radio become popular as a means of entertainment and pastime ... the diminutive/small body size lent it self to be more readily played by women ... who might have trouble dealing with the larger sizes of guitar bodies and wider neck(s). The O-18 model has a very sweet sound and is an excellent guitar for studio recording. This model of Martin guitar is no longer available new ... it's no longer produced by Martin on a regular basis ... and it's only available on special order. I DON'T play this guitar when I perform because I generally don't like the narrowness of the neck ... I have big hands/fingers ... and the narrow neck 'cramps' my style ... I used this guitar for this section of my lessons because it records well ... and, mainly, because I like to show folks that they can play blues on ANY guitar ... as long as it sounds good to your ears and fits/is comfortable in your hands. This guitar sounds great ... but is not what I play on a regular basis because of the narrowness of the neck is not truly comfortable for me over the 'long haul' when I'm performing in concert and at festivals.

rcausrcaus replied on February 22nd, 2011

Dear Hawkeye, sometimes I spend too much time in theories and other technical aspects and not enough on practice and I believe it’s to do with my work background. Anyway, can you help me out to understand when do we apply major v/s minor pentatonic in Blues ? A minor pentatonic : A C D E and G whereas A major pentatonic : A B C# E F . A good proportion of blues songs use major chords (or 7th) e.g A E B . Should we play the A major pentatonic for those rather than E minor Pentatonic. Whilst some blues songs may go like Am Em Bm .Should we then be playing the A minor pentatonic . Thanking you for your lessons and continue with Phase 3 as the songs are simply fantastic Rama

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on February 22nd, 2011

Rama, Thanks so much for enjoying these lessons and for your question. The answer is ... in the doing. It is your job to experiment with both scales and see what happens ... no one will get hurt or injured in the process, and you will find the answer to your question. Enjoy the process of exploring using both of these scales ... and let me know your 'conclusion.' :-) Again, thanks so much for being here at JamPlay.com.

rcausrcaus replied on December 22nd, 2010

As the chord progression goes G Am C . As an experiment , I tried to play it using G9/B( 2/3 fret four fingers) , Am and C9/G ( wrap on 2/3 fret) . However, it sounds very odd . Unless, I am playing it wrong is it fair to say that these chords are more for Blues and not for normal majors. Thank you for your valuable lessons

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on December 23rd, 2010

Thanks for the comment/question, Rama. In many instances you can substitute 9th chords for the 'normal' major chords ... but not in this situation. Your ears will tell you when it works. Thanks for enjoying these lessons.

dearlpittsdearlpitts replied on December 11th, 2010

am i jumping the gun by stating that second postion minor is first mjor/? regardless you my friend are a joy to take lessons from thanx.going to your web site now.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on December 11th, 2010

Thanks for the kind words, David. Much appreciated. Not so much 'jumping the gun' ... you're just 'anticipating' what's yet to come. ;-) Thanks again.

rcausrcaus replied on September 16th, 2010

When we play in G chord , then play solo Blues scale at the 6th which is E ( at Scene 2 5.28m). Can you clarify the way you went around the scale in a twisted fashion and not straight up. The lick sounds fantastic and pleasing but is there a logic to it or we can simply make up a lick so long that it is in E scale. Thank you for your fantastic lessons rcaus

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on September 16th, 2010

Thanks for the kind comments and for your question. I'm playing the E blues minor pentatonic at the open position, while the song is in the key of G ... which makes the scale a 'limited' G major scale . I'm playing the notes of the scale in the order I've taught them in previous lessons on the blues scale, and then improvising freely. Since you state in your profile that you're a 'beginner,' and you've only been here at JamPlay.com since early August, perhaps you missed something in the previous 76 lessons? Also, I suggest you use the video controls to stop and restart and view the selection in question over and over again until you get it (one of the great benefits of video lessons is you can get me to say/do the same things a million times until you get it.). That's the best I can do here, without going into a long dissertation on music theory ... also, please go back and catch the lessons on the blues scale that you may have missed in order to get to this point in the lessons ... which are meant to be viewed in the order presented, the information in each lesson is built on the previous lesson ... I'm trying to give you a strong understanding and foundation in the music ... if you skip around/cherry pick through the lessons ... there will be many 'bricks' of information that you will lack in the creation of a strong foundation in blues music and how it applies to other genres of music, as in this lesson. Thanks again for your kind words and question.

rcausrcaus replied on October 5th, 2010

Dear Hawkeye, I was born in Mauritius ( Indian Ocean),an island where there were slaves. I heard of Blues music when I was 15 years and wanted to learn it but due to exam pressure I had to give up on guitar. It is now a golden opportunity but at 40 years old to have you as our teacher and it took me 2 months to make an assessment of whether I should go into this venture as it's in fact a lifetime learning. As from last week, I started all over again and this time spending more time on each lesson . Thank you for the lessons Regards rcaus

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on October 5th, 2010

I'm glad you're enjoying these lessons. It's never too late to begin an interesting, worthwhile, and entertaining journey. I hope you continue to enjoy these lessons, and that you continue to improve your skills and play blues music ... forever. ;-) Thanks so much for your kind comments and appreciation for these lessons.

offdg3offdg3 replied on September 24th, 2010

I love this site!!! Especially Hawkeye. One thought/tip that might be helpful here. I watched this several months ago and frankly didn't get it. Watching again today I had an "AHA" moment. In your blues scale, the index finger defines the key in blues/major. That exact same shape, but with the PINKY rather than the index finger, defines the key in major. The counting up six notes is helpful, but I'm visually oriented. Once I got the index vs. pinky thing, the lightbulb came on. All the other shapes in the blues/pentatonic fall into place too. WOW.

offdg3offdg3 replied on September 24th, 2010

OOPs. The index defines the key in blues/MINOR. The pinky defines the key in major.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on September 25th, 2010

Thanks so much for enjoying these lessons and for you kind comments. PLease don't get ahead of yourself ... stick with the lesson plan ... I've given a lot of thought to the content and order of these lessons ... please study the lessons in the order I've presented them, and in due time 'all will be revealed to you' in regard to using the blues scale to play major rather than minor. ;-) Thanks so much for traveling with me here on the 'blues highway' at JamPlay.com. I hope you continue to enjoy these lessons.

blueguitar24blueguitar24 replied on May 3rd, 2010

Hawkeye do you ever do guitar workshops in Phoenix Az?

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on May 3rd, 2010

Thanks for asking. I haven't done any workshops in AZ, sorry to say. Most of the guitar workshops that I do are in association with or in tandem with my appearance/performance at blues festivals. So it follows, there are blues societies in AZ ... the Phoenix Blues Society and the Tucson Blues Society... both sponsor events like blues festivals and concerts ... if you'd kindly 'refer' them to me ... perhaps they might consider bringing me there to perform and do a workshop. I'd love to. Thanks again for asking. I do hope to perform and teach in AZ ... someday.

blueguitar24blueguitar24 replied on May 7th, 2010

Hawkeye where do you mainly go then?? Califonia? or more midwest -east coast? I would love to go to a blues festival/workshop. I really only know a couple blues clubs here in Phoenix but they play great live music.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on May 9th, 2010

I go everywhere ... I don't go to just one region exclusively ... I travel and perform in concert and at festivals all over North and South America and in Europe ... I have yet to perform/teach in Asia and Australia ... but I hope to. You can see my tour schedule easy enough here: http://www.hawkeyeherman.com/tour_schedule.htm Yes, there are a few blues clubs in Phoenix with great music, like the Rhythm Room in Phoenix, ... but I no longer play in bars/pubs/clubs ... I did that for more than 25 years ... for the past ten years I only perform in concert halls, at outdoor blues/folk/jazz festivals, workshop presentations, and in-school presentations/concerts ... I don't accept bar/pub/club gigs ... but there is a wintertime blues festival in Phoenix put on by the Phoenix Blues Society ... if you really want to be 'in touch' with what's going on in your area you should join the Phoenix (or Tucson) Blues Society (www.phoenixblues.org) ... and of course, referring them to my would be very much appreciated. I'd love to come to Phoenix to perform and teach. Thanks so much for enjoying these lessons and your interest in having me do a workshop in your area. I hope it happens in the future. I'll go anywhere I'm invited ... if the concert/festival venue and the price is right. I hope to see ya in Phoenix ... someday ... sooner than later.

blueguitar24blueguitar24 replied on May 3rd, 2010

sweeeeeeeeet i love the dylan song

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on May 3rd, 2010

Thanks! ... I rearrange/adapt many of Dylan's songs using blues techniques ... and this approach in lesson #77 is very useful for playing lead in songs that are not strictly blues songs. I hope you continue to enjoy these lessons.

dallendouglasdallendouglas replied on April 30th, 2010

I thought I might Post this information for those who are having some trouble finding the correct Key. Refer to Hawkeye's lesson #24 which is a big help.Then you can apply the techniques Hawkeye teaches in this most important lesson.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on April 30th, 2010

Thanks for posting this, Dennis. I think I'll place a post to the lesson you refer to in the forum area, as well, under it's own topic heading/title ... for those in need of this information. Much appreciated.

dallendouglasdallendouglas replied on April 25th, 2010

Thanks Hawkeye. Really enjoyed this lesson,and I certsinly can use the info Dennis(Canyonville)

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on April 26th, 2010

Thanks for the message, Dennis. There's much more to come in this 'area of study' ... learning to play lead blues guitar. I hope you keep your guitar out of the closet and continue to enjoy these lessons.

ozblokeozbloke replied on April 1st, 2010

I already left a message here before, but i decided i needed a revision of this amazing technique. I just wanted to ask, just before the end there you were playing a johnny cash song, folsom prision blues (i think), in the key of E. When you played the 2 chord, Fm, you didn't hold an Fm shape chord, what exactly were you doing there, it sounded fab? OB

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on April 1st, 2010

Thanks for the question/comment. There are three sections to this video ... please be more specific ... "...near the end" ... isn't enough information for me to find what you're referring to ... so, please tell me which of the three video sections you are referring to "Near the end", and using the little 'time clock' in the right hand corner of the videos, please tell me at exactly what minute/second it happens. Thanks.

rockingchicagorockingchicago replied on February 16th, 2010

thx for the lesson hawkeye it was fun. but am i right on what i noticed that im playing the major blues scale when i go back three steps?

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on February 16th, 2010

Thanks for enjoying these lessons ad for your question. The 'major blues scale" ... ? ... sorry, I don't understand your terms. Forget that 'label'/term ... what you're doing is playing a minor pentatonic scale that has been moved down three frets and now replicates a major scale in the same as the original minor blues scale key you were in. You're playing the minor pentatonic blues scale at the 'relative sixth' position. For example, play the pentatonic minor blues scale in the key of C at the 8th fret. Now, move that same scale down three frets to the 5th fret (where a barred A or Am chord would be ... A/Am is the relative 6th of C) ... and now you're playing, at the 5th fret, a partial C major scale. You've got the idea correct ... just don't call this a 'major blues scale' ... that doesn't work for me and does not communicate accurately what we're doing here. If somebody asks you what the concept is you'd respond that you're 'playing the fingering positions for a pentatonic minor blues scale' at it's relative sixth position, which creates a partial major scale in the same key as the blues scale you were playing. Don't be confused by terms, and don't assume you can 'create' terms of your own ... like 'major blues scale' ... we already have musical terms that are universal and communicate clearly to others (I hope ;-) what we're trying to do. If all else fails, forget the 'terms,' and just practice and play. Bottom line, as long as you understand and can accomplish the concept I'm trying to teach you, I could care less if you know how to put the concept 'into words.' Again, thanks so much for enjoying these lessons.

rockingchicagorockingchicago replied on February 23rd, 2010

i understand now thank you hawkeye

ozblokeozbloke replied on February 8th, 2010

GENIUS, JUST PURE GENIUS!! THAT LESSON ALONE, HAWKEYE, IS WORTH THE PRICE OF MEMBERSHIP TO JAMPLAY!!

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on February 9th, 2010

Hey, are you yelling at me? :-) Those capital letters hurt my ears. :-) So, glad this lesson struck a 'chord' with you. Now, go play lead along with everything in your music/record collection. I hope your find other 'gems' like this in the course of your travels with me on the 'blues highway.'

lexzbuddylexzbuddy replied on December 16th, 2009

If this is not the most useful lessons ever. Thanks so very much! I had to watch it again just to check I hadn't dreamt it. If there is 1 thing I take away from Jamplay, this will be it. I enjoyed watching your lesson sets too. They've been great!

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on December 16th, 2009

Thanks so much. I'm so glad you recognize the 'power' that this concept brings to your playing. For more on this, may I suggest: http://www.jamplay.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5829 ... http://www.jamplay.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5827 ... http://www.jamplay.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5669 ... I hope you use the information you've received here for the rest of your life. :-) Thanks again.

patsendpatsend replied on November 20th, 2009

and came the light!!! Thanks, gracias, merci Hawkeye.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on November 20th, 2009

patsend. You're most welcome. Thanks so much for 'seeing the light.' Now, get out your Pink Floyd albums and see if you can play along :-) I hope you continue to enjoy these lessons.

gmanbatgmanbat replied on October 17th, 2009

Thank you so much from an Iowan, (Waterloo)! I've been toying with this idea for many years, you made the light come on completely! I'll never forget this, you just increased my versatility by 100%!

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on October 19th, 2009

Gary, Thanks so much. Glad to help. It's never too late for the pieces of the 'puzzle' to fall into place. There are free guitar lessons at my web site here: http://www.hawkeyeherman.com/guitar-lessons.htm and I highly recommend you check this out, as it could be very helpful to you: http://www.hawkeyeherman.com/pdf/lessons/Spanningtheneck-A.pdf Thanks again for enjoying these lessons and for taking the time to leave a comment. From a fellow Iowan (Davenport).

mike4370mike4370 replied on August 2nd, 2009

great lesson Hawkeye. i kinda found this out by accident with one or two songs and didn't even know it until i saw your lesson and as you can imagine, the skies opened up!! thanks for the lesson!!

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on August 2nd, 2009

mike4370, Thanks for the kind comment. It's most satisfying for me to share the information with y'all ... and especially when a particular piece of information/lesson opens the doors of perception for you ... giving you an "Aha! moment" ... that will last you a lifetime on the guitar. I hope you continue to enjoy these lessons.

vikingbluesvikingblues replied on July 31st, 2009

Thank you for this real highlight in your lessons Hawkeye. You explain these techniques so well and avoid the problem of most books I have tried to learn from where they bomard you with technical terms and detailed analysis. They forget the important thing is that you can play it and it sounds good. Thanks also for brightening my day - you were even more enthusiastic and cheerful than usual on this lesson (and you already raise the bar high on that front). Having buried my cat of near 19 years at lunchtime today you were a real tonic this evening. If anyone has a problem remembering that its three frets down from the major to the minor scale there is another way of working this out. I think this shows how blues and the guitar are just perfectly designed for people. Put your little finger on the first string at the fret which is the root note of the major. Then put your ring finger on the one below, your middle finger on the one below that and then your index finger on the next one. Now that's useful - your index finger is on the right fret for the minor blues scale. See we have just the right number of fingers - now doesn't that mean we're meant to play the blues! I look forward to the next lesson when I have time tomorrow. Good night from Scotland and thanks again Hawkeye.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on July 31st, 2009

vikingblues, Thanks for the kind comments. My sincere sympathies and condolences on the passing of your cat ... I'm glad these lessons served as a bit of a tonic for your current sadness. The guitar is built to be played by human hands (!!!) ... what a surprise, eh? ... hard to believe sometimes, but it's true ... the information in instructional books can be confusing ... the old blues guys that I learned directly from like Brownie McGhee, Lightnin' Hopkins, Son House, Furry Lewis, MAnce Lipscomb, Bukka white ... didn't use 'confusing' music terms ... they would say, "Hawkeye, put your fingers here and do this." Good enough for me ... good enough for me to teach you that way ...a nd the supplemental material supplied by jamplay.com by our friend Matt 'fills' in the need for tablature/notation that some folks need/require. It's all good, as long as you enjoy the process. Thanks again,

jkrivisjkrivis replied on July 30th, 2009

for the record, this was enlightening. thanks again for helping with our blues journey!

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on July 31st, 2009

jkrivis, For the record, let me say "Thank you" for letting me know that you've made a break-through. This basic blues information that I'm sharing with you should serve you for the rest of your life. You'll take these 'enlightening moments/strides' all for granted in a very short period of time ... it's a normal thing ... once you 'get it' ... to accept that knowledge and use it as a part of your playing ... as just another tool in your 'tool chest' of guitar playing information/skills ... this is the foundation that I'm trying to give you ... absolutely ... to make the information a part of you ... something you know and can always count on and come back to and always find creativity and inspiration through. I believe that the guitar is a life's companion ... and won't go anywhere ... without you. Thanks so much for enjoying these lessons.

mav67mav67 replied on July 30th, 2009

Hawkeye, what can I say, that lesson was spectacular. Every once in a while you can watch a lesson you have what Steve Eulberg descibes as an AHA moment, I am testing this right now and will continue to do so. You have just blown a huge hole in the mist of musical confusion within me. With that 30 minute lesson you have opened up a whole new world for me, all I can do at this point is thank you very much for that, I was starting to forget ehat an AHA momentfelt like.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on July 30th, 2009

Mark, You're most welcome. Thanks so much. I hope you find there are many more such moments within these lessons. Opening the doors of musical perception for my students is where it's at for me as a guitar instructor. As I state previously, my main goal is to inspire people to play and enjoy the process of learning and playing. If any 'new idea'/concept I share with you facilitates/compels you to play the guitar more and more, then I'm doing my job. Please keep in mind that these little 'ideas' that you find 'amusing,' enjoyable, and fulfilling to play and create with now ... will be part of your blues guitar playing/creating 'arsenal forever. Enjoy the process of discovering the many way to express yourself with the blues scale. Again, thanks so much for your kind comments. Enjoy the process and the journey.

iukaiuka replied on July 29th, 2009

I generally play in Piedmont style with thumb bass and index finger doing most of the work in the high strings. This is such a great tip since I can play the chords and then use this to put in some nice little scale notes in between. I'm probably gonna wear out my fingers this next week trying this. Thanks HH for this great lesson.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on July 30th, 2009

iuka, Thanks so much. My primary goal is to inspire people to play and enjoy the process of learning and playing. If any 'new idea'/concept I share with you facilitates/compels you to play the guitar more and more, then I'm doing my job. Please keep in mind that these little 'ideas' that you find 'amusing,' enjoyable, and fulfilling to play and create with now ... will be part of your blues guitar playing/creating 'arsenal forever. Enjoy the process of discovering the many way to express yourself with the blues scale.

skaterstuskaterstu replied on July 29th, 2009

I like the way you go through and really reinforce the key ideas. Another cool lesson, but I need to go right back to the beginning and learn this stuff... a little daunting seeing as you have 70 odd lessons, will be an interesting journey. Like with so many of the instructors like Mark Lincoln, Steve Eulberg, Jimmy D, I look forward to chatting with you Hawkeye. Thanks.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on July 30th, 2009

slaterstu, There are free lessons on my web site here hawkeyeherman.com/guitar-lessons.htm and you can see how I use the techniques I teach at jamplay.com when I'm performing here youtube.com/profile?user=HawkeyeH&view=videos Take your time with these lessons. There's no rush, crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. Move on/forward with each lesson at your own speed, be patient with yourself, and do the simple repetitions necessary at a slow speed and enjoy the sounds your guitar is making. Learn these 'building blocks'/lessons in the order in which I've presented them and you'll have great success in playing blues freely on the guitar, fun along the way, and a sense of understanding for blues musical ideas that will open 'doors' on the guitar for you forever. Now, please get back to lesson #1, and start this journey with me on 'the blues highway.

Blues Guitar with Hawkeye

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

The blues is a distinctly American style of music. Many popular genres such as jazz, rock, and country music draw upon basic blues concepts. Consequently, it is advantageous for any guitarist to study the blues.



Lesson 1

Introduction to Blues

Hawkeye Herman introduces the blues. He explains the 12 bar blues chords and the poetic format that blues lyrics typically follow.

Length: 19:25 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Understanding Blues Chords

Hawkeye explains how the I, IV, and V chords are used in a 12 bar blues progression.

Length: 12:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Blues Rhythm

Hawkeye demonstrates common strumming patterns used in blues music. He also explains how country music evolved from the blues.

Length: 19:42 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Intro to the Blues Shuffle

The shuffle is one of the most common rhythms used in blues music. Hawkeye introduces the most basic shuffle rhythm pattern.

Length: 18:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

More Blues Shuffle

Hawkeye covers the blues shuffle in greater depth.

Length: 13:13 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

The Blues Turnaround

Hawkeye introduces and explains a common blues turnaround.

Length: 7:45 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Interesting Blues Turnaround

Hawkeye demonstrates various ways of arpeggiating the blues turnaround from the previous lesson.

Length: 8:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Moving the Turnaround

Hawkeye explains how the turnaround from the previous lesson can be transposed to all 12 keys.

Length: 5:57 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Turnaround in the Bass

Hawkeye explains how the blues turnaround can be played on the bass strings.

Length: 11:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Turnaround Practice

Hawkeye provides some tips regarding how to integrate turnarounds into the context of the 12 bar blues form.

Length: 3:58 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Turnarounds as Lead

In this lesson Hawkeye will explain how you can use turnarounds as a way to play basic lead.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Subtle Changes

Hawkeye demonstrates how subtle changes made to the blues shuffle can have a profound impact on the overall sound of the 12 bar form.

Length: 7:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Blues Shuffle Variations

Hawkeye demonstrates more blues shuffle variations. He discusses playing individual notes and palm muting.

Length: 7:23 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Bass Blues Shuffle

In this lesson, Hawkeye teaches a bass version of the blues shuffle that mimics a common left-hand piano pattern.

Length: 10:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Turnaround Exercise

Hawkeye presents an exercise that will enable you to play a turnaround over the blues form in all twelve keys.

Length: 10:44 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Delta Blues Turnaround

Hawkeye teaches a Delta blues turnaround in the key of A. This turnaround is played in the style of Robert Johnson.

Length: 10:45 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Delta Blues Turnaround #2

Hawkeye Herman teaches a new Delta blues turnaround. This lick was inspired by Robert Johnson.

Length: 7:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Robert Johnson Style

Hawkeye Herman teaches more components of Robert Johnson's signature sound.

Length: 27:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Movable Chords

Hawkeye introduces some common, movable chord shapes.

Length: 17:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Movable Chord Review

Hawkeye reviews movable chords in this lesson. He explains how these chord voicings can be used in a practical blues context.

Length: 5:41 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Basic Blues Scale

Hawkeye Herman introduces the minor pentatonic scale in this lesson, the most commonly used scale in blues lead guitar.

Length: 23:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Passing Notes

Hawkeye builds on the pentatonic scale. He introduces "blue" notes, which transform the pentatonic scale into the minor blues scale.

Length: 12:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Scales and Keys

Hawkeye explains how to transpose the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales to different keys.

Length: 21:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

Finding the Key

Hawkeye Herman explains how to determine the key of a blues song. This information is essential if you wish to play lead over a song.

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Lightnin' Hopkins Style

In this lesson, Hawkeye will bring together much of what he has taught in this lesson series and apply it to the style of Lightnin' Hopkins.

Length: 16:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

Treble Shuffle

Hawkeye explains how to play the blues shuffle on the treble strings.

Length: 9:22 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 27

The Great River Road

Hawkeye Herman teaches you how to play his original song, "The Great River Road," in this phenomenal lesson.

Length: 16:39 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 28

Mississippi John Hurt Style

Hawkeye covers the guitar style of Mississippi John Hurt. This style makes heavy use of alternating bass lines.

Length: 14:48 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

Piano Blues

Hawkeye teaches an original piece called "Piano Blues." He teaches this song to further demonstrate the alternating bass line.

Length: 13:20 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 30

Blues Accompaniment

Hawkeye Herman teaches a beautiful blues accompaniment pattern.

Length: 10:11 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Stop-Time Blues

Hawkeye introduces the stop-time blues rhythm.

Length: 17:21 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 32

Sweet Home Chicago

Hawkeye Herman explains how to play Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago."

Length: 16:17 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

Eight Bar Blues

Hawkeye introduces the eight bar blues progression.

Length: 22:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

8 Bar Blues Key Transposition

Hawkeye takes the 8 bar blues material from the last lesson and explains how to transpose it to different keys.

Length: 6:39 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 35

Classic 8 Bar Blues

Hawkeye teaches a classic 8 bar blues tune in the style of Brownie McGhee and Big Bill Broonzy.

Length: 25:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

Playing Multiple Notes

In this lesson Hawkeye revisits the blues/pentatonic scale and talks about playing multiple notes at the same time.

Length: 9:42 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 37

Classic End Tag

Hawkeye Herman teaches a classic blues song ending. He also explains how it can be played in different keys.

Length: 9:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 38

Basic Blues Slide

Hawkeye Herman covers the basics of slide technique and provides exercises to demonstrate them.

Length: 25:49 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 39

Slide Guitar and Open D Tuning

Hawkeye Herman introduces open D tuning. He explains how to play a 12 bar blues progression with a slide in this tuning.

Length: 14:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 40

Ramblin' On My Mind

Hawkeye Herman demonstrates the classic Robert Johnson song, "Ramblin' On My Mind" in open D tuning.

Length: 8:41 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 41

Blues Shuffle in Open D

Hawkeye explains how to play the blues shuffle in open D tuning.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 42

Open D Harmony Shuffle

Hawkeye teaches the "harmony" version of the shuffle in open D tuning.

Length: 5:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 43

Open D Turnaround

Hawkeye teaches a simple blues turnaround in open D tuning.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 44

Open D Slide Licks

Hawkeye Herman teaches some open D slide guitar licks. These licks are inspired by the song "Ramblin' On My Mind" by Robert Johnson.

Length: 8:14 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 45

Pentatonic Scale in Open D

Hawkeye Herman explains how to play the D minor pentatonic scale in Open D tuning.

Length: 4:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 46

Ramblin' On My Mind

Hawkeye challenges you to play "Ramblin' On My Mind" using the techniques from the past couple of lessons.

Length: 4:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 47

Rock and Slide Guitar

Hawkeye shows that open D tuning and slide guitar are not exclusive to the blues. He provides an exercise that demonstrates how this tuning can be used in rock music.

Length: 15:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 48

D Tuning Chords

Hawkeye returns to the world of open D tuning. He introduces various chord voicings and explains how they can be used in the blues.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 49

You Got To Move

In this lesson, Hawkeye teaches a classic blues song by Mississippi Fred McDowell - "You Got To Move".

Length: 9:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 50

You Got to Move Melody

Hawkeye Herman demonstrates how to play the melody of "You Got to Move" with a slide.

Length: 6:51 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 51

Slide Guitar and Blues Licks

Hawkeye Herman talks about playing and creating blues licks with the slide.

Length: 9:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 52

Elmore James Style

Hawkeye Herman breaks down important aspects of Elmore James' style.

Length: 23:11 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 53

Blues Licks and Riffs

Hawkeye teaches some versatile blues licks and riffs that can be used in open D tuning.

Length: 11:15 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 54

Open G Tuning

Hawkeye Herman teaches the basics of open G tuning.

Length: 7:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 55

G Tuning Chords

Hawkeye gives a brief overview of chords and how they are played in open G tuning.

Length: 6:11 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 56

Blues Scale in Open G Tuning

Hawkeye gives a brief rundown of how the blues / minor pentatonic scale can be played in open G tuning.

Length: 4:48 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 57

G Tuning Accompaniment

Hawkeye talks about playing accompaniment using open G tuning.

Length: 7:44 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 58

Improvising in G Tuning

Improvisation using the minor pentatonic / blues scale is discussed in open G tuning. Hawkeye also touches on Robert Johnson's song, "Walkin' Blues."

Length: 7:26 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 59

Open G Shuffle Rhythm

In this lesson, Hawkeye Herman talks about playing the blues shuffle in open G tuning. He also shows some basic turnarounds.

Length: 10:37 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 60

Open G Shuffle Variations

Hawkeye reviews the blues shuffle in open G tuning. He demonstrates shuffle variations as well as a few licks, turnarounds, and other tidbits.

Length: 15:45 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 61

Robert Johnson Licks

Hawkeye teaches several Robert Johnson licks in this lesson. These licks are played with a slide in open G tuning.

Length: 14:40 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
Lesson 62

G Tuning and the Capo

Hawkeye introduces the capo and explains how it can be used. This lesson is still in the context of G tuning.

Length: 10:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 63

Come On In My Kitchen

Hawkeye Herman showcases the power of slide guitar by demonstrating the classic Robert Johnson song, "Come On In My Kitchen."

Length: 6:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 64

Skip James Style

Hawkeye Herman gives a brief rundown of Skip James' blues guitar style. This lesson also focuses on playing in open tunings without a slide.

Length: 19:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 65

Open D to Open G

Hawkeye demonstrates how to take a song from open D tuning and play it in open G. He uses the song "No Expectations" by the Rolling Stones as an example.

Length: 10:26 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 66

Drop D Tuning

Hawkeye shows you the wonders of drop D tuning and teaches his rendition of "Big Road Blues."

Length: 30:30 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 67

Statesboro Blues

Hawkeye goes over the fantastic song "Statesboro Blues" by Blind Willie McTell in Drop D tuning.

Length: 27:12 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 68

Blind Lemon Jefferson

Hawkeye discusses some history behind the great blues guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson. He covers the song "Matchbox Blues" to provide an example of his style.

Length: 19:40 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 69

Minor Blues

Hawkeye explains the chord changes used in a minor blues progression.

Length: 12:53 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 70

The Capo

Hawkeye talks about the capo and its many uses.

Length: 22:32 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 71

Song Endings

By user request, Hawkeye shares ideas on how to end songs in this lesson.

Length: 21:26 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 72

Stop Time Blues

In this lesson, Hawkeye Herman returns to the wonderful world of stop-time blues. He teaches a few more ways to play in this glorious style.

Length: 17:53 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 73

Eight Bar Blues

Hawkeye talks about the eight bar blues and uses some classic blues songs as examples.

Length: 26:19 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 74

Blues Mambo

Hawkeye talks all about the blues mambo in this lesson.

Length: 16:09 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 75

Movable Endings

Hawkeye explains how all the endings you've learned up to this point can be transposed to any key.

Length: 31:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 76

Movable Blues Scale

Hawkeye talks about transposing the minor pentatonic scale to various keys.

Length: 16:58 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 77

Blues Scale Lead

Hawkeye explains how the blues scale can be used to play lead in any song.

Length: 30:57 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 78

Spanning the Neck

Hawkeye explains how the blues scale can span the neck in any key.

Length: 22:09 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 79

The Blues Had a Baby

Hawkeye talks about the background of rock 'n roll and how it is connected to blues.

Length: 21:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 80

Fun Licks

This lesson is filled with fun licks and lick techniques.

Length: 17:32 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 81

Spanning the Neck Continued

Hawkeye brings more blues wisdom to you in this lesson about spanning the neck.

Length: 18:18 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 82

Barre Chords Refresher

Hawkeye provides a few useful tips on playing barre chords.

Length: 13:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 83

Chord Relationships

Hawkeye discusses how the visual shapes of chords relate to one another on the fretboard.

Length: 15:06 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 84

Chord Relationships Continued

Hawkeye explains how to find the I, IV, and V chords in all 12 major keys.

Length: 8:43 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 85

Shuffle Rhythm Review

Hawkeye answers member questions on the shuffle rhythm.

Length: 16:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 86

Key of A Idea

Hawkeye shares an idea in the key of A that you can apply to your blues playing.

Length: 18:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 87

Thumbpick Vs. Flatpick

Thumbpick Vs. Flatpick: A most common question asked among guitarists is discussed in this lesson.

Length: 15:13 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 88

Capo Ideas

Hawkeye shares his ideas on the capo and explains why he thinks it is important for every guitarist to own one.

Length: 18:34 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 89

Everything is Movable

Hawkeye reiterates that everything is movable on the guitar and provides some fresh new ideas.

Length: 12:27 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 90

Bass Notes in Treble

Hawkeye explains how to add variety to the shuffle pattern by transferring the bass notes to the treble register and by adding palm muting. He also explains how you can create your own shuffle variations.

Length: 21:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 91

Treble Shuffle

Hawkeye provides more amazing tips and tricks on moving your shuffle rhythm to the treble for a unique sound.

Length: 16:50 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 92

Creating Solos

Hawkeye revisits the techniques learned in the last few lessons and explains how to tie tie them together to create solos.

Length: 9:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 93

Transposing Songs

Hawkeye provides some great tips for transposing any song you want to learn to a different key.

Length: 17:31 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 94

History of Blues

This exciting lesson dives into some of the earliest history of blues music and how it has shaped popular music today.

Length: 13:52 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 95

Blues is the Roots

Hawkeye Herman explains why "blues is the roots, and everything else is the fruits."

Length: 8:41 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 96

The Style of Hank Williams

Hawkeye discusses the history and style of Hank Williams.

Length: 17:07 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 97

The Style of Jimmie Rodgers

Hawkeye demonstrates some key aspects of Jimmie Rodgers' style.

Length: 12:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 98

Boom-Chicka Strum

Hawkeye demonstrates the "boom-chicka" strum and explains various ways you can incorporate it into your playing.

Length: 22:44 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 99

Fun Runs

Hawkeye Herman explains how to spice up your rhythm playing by incorporating bass runs between chord changes.

Length: 16:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 100

Review & Practice

Hawkeye Herman celebrates lesson 100 with a short but sweet review of what you've learned in the past couple of lessons.

Length: 6:51 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 101

Song Medley

Hawkeye Herman demonstrates rhythmic concepts from earlier lessons by playing a fun medley.

Length: 13:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 102

Hawkeye's Favorite Licks

Hawkeye shares some of his favorite licks in this lesson.

Length: 22:35 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 103

More Fun Licks

Hawkeye teaches more fun licks to add to your blues bag of tricks.

Length: 31:20 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 104

More Licks Up the Neck

Hawkeye Herman is back with some more classic blues licks that span the length of the fretboard.

Length: 26:20 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 105

Bass Licks

Hawkeye explains the importance of playing licks over the entire neck of the guitar.

Length: 21:33 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 106

Rock Me Lick

Hawkeye Herman shares a lick that is commonly known as the "Rock Me Baby" Lick. He explains how this lick can be incorporated into a performance of this classic B.B. King song.

Length: 19:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 107

Turnaround Positions

Hawkeye discusses how ideas derived from turnarounds can be incorporated into blues solos.

Length: 8:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 108

Instrumental Themes

Hawkeye Herman talks about instrumental themes and how you can add lead fills to them.

Length: 18:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 109

Instrumental Themes Continued

Hawkeye continues his discussion on instrumental themes and blues.

Length: 23:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 110

Ninth Chords

Hawkeye Herman explains how dominant 9th chords are formed and how they can be used in blues music.

Length: 15:16 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 111

Ninth Chords Continued

Hawkeye Herman continues his discussion on 9th chords.

Length: 26:52 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 112

More Eight Bar Blues

Hawkeye Herman shares more eight bar blues knowledge in this fun and information-packed lesson.

Length: 23:57 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 113

Using a Tuner

Hawkeye shares his thoughts on tuners in this lesson.

Length: 6:38 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 114

Introducing the Capo

In the 114th installment of his Blues Series, Hawkeye introduces the capo. He demonstrates how this valuable tool allows you to transpose chord voicings to various keys.

Length: 23:21 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 115

Forming Barre Chords

Having trouble getting those fingers to form barre chords? In lesson #115 of his Blues Series, Hawkeye covers some tips and techniques to help with these problematic chord shapes. Any beginner can master...

Length: 10:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 116

4 Up, 5 Down Applied Concept

Hawkeye explains why the adjacent strings on the guitar are tuned in perfect fourths and how this relates to left hand fingering.

Length: 18:44 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 117

Relative Chord Shapes

Hawkeye continues where he left off in lesson 116 and explains how the tuning of the guitar relates to commonly used chord shapes.

Length: 16:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 118

Transposing Notes / Changing the Key

Hawkeye Herman reviews important transposition concepts. Here he demonstrates how to change the key of a song so that it is appropriate for your vocal range.

Length: 20:31 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 119

All About Finger Picking

Hawkeye takes a look at this important right hand technique.

Length: 20:54 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 120

Bo Diddley Beat

Hawkeye provides a history lesson on Bo Diddley. He also demonstrates how to play the classic "Bo Diddley Beat." This rhythmic pattern appears in countless blues and rock songs.

Length: 20:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 121

Thematic Bass Lines

Hawkeye teaches some blues bass lines that can be applied to the twelve bar blues form.

Length: 19:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 122

Bass Lines Continued

Hawkeye continues on from his 121st lesson with more examples of blues bass lines for guitar.

Length: 7:14 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 123

Lead Bass Ideas

Hawkeye dives into some lead bass ideas. He demonstrates how a classic Eric Clapton riff can be used over the twelve bar blues form in any key.

Length: 12:57 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 124

Willie's Bounce

Hawkeye teaches the bass line riff to his song "Willie's Bounce."

Length: 16:31 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 125

Finger Picking Part 2

Hawkeye continues his discussion on finger picking.

Length: 12:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 126

The Texas A

Hawkeye Herman teaches a version of the A chord that he calls "The Texas A."

Length: 13:59 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 127

Blues Scale: Adding the Major 3rd

Hawkeye breaks down the blues scale and demonstrates how to appropriately add the major 3rd.

Length: 26:16 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 128

Double Stops

As demonstrated in previous lessons, Hawkeye opens up the world of double stops. Hawkeye teaches some classic Chuck Berry licks to demonstrate how double stops can be used effectively.

Length: 11:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 129

Scrapper Blackwell

Hawkeye introduces the guitar stye of Scrapper Blackwell. He uses the song Scrapper called "E Blues" as a starting point.

Length: 20:46 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 130

Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson

History flows deep in blues music. Hawkeye discusses the influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson. This lesson is one for the history books.

Length: 22:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 131

Humming and Strumming

Hawkeye opens up some ideas on how to "plan ahead" in your playing. Similar to riding a bike, you need to look forward to see where your going. Humming what you want to play allows you to anticipate the...

Length: 18:49 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 132

Katrina, Oh Katrina

Inspired by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Hawkeye was commissioned by the BBC to write a song about Katrina. Hawkeye demonstrates this song and recalls his thought process in writing this song.

Length: 29:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 133

All About the Hammer-on

Hawkeye demonstrates how a hammer-on can be used to open up doors in your playing. Hawkeye shows you how to achieve this technique and use it successfully in your playing.

Length: 24:07 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 134

The Pull-off

Hawkeye covers the pull-off, best friend of the hammer on. This technique is used to achieve the same goal as the hammer-on, yet with a completely different finger movement.

Length: 15:02 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 135

Using Hammer-ons and Pull-offs Together

Hawkeye combines lessons 133 and 134 and demonstrates some examples of how to utilize the hammer-on and pull-off techniques together to enhance your overall blues guitar skills.

Length: 10:27 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 136

The Quick Change

The 12 bar form is a staple in the world of blues music. However, there are plenty of different ways to arrange it. This lesson covers what is commonly called "The Quick Change."

Length: 15:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 137

Starting on the IV Chord

Hawkeye demonstrates how to change up a traditional 12 bar blues progression by starting on the IV chord.

Length: 16:51 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 138

The Talking Blues

Hawkeye demonstrates yet another form of blues known as the "Talking Blues." This style is indicative of its name. It features a talking vocal style played over a I, IV, V chord progression.

Length: 24:43 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 139

Utilizing 9th Chords

Need a slightly different voicing to spice up your playing? 9th chords will give your blues playing a colorful, urban sound.

Length: 24:53 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 140

Minor Tuning, Major Sound

Hawkeye breaks out his slide and demonstrates how chord progressions in major keys can be played in open minor tunings.

Length: 4:43 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 141

Style of Elmore James

Hawkeye offers up some tricks and techniques that Elmore James utilized in his style of playing.

Length: 25:52 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 142

Style of Son House

In lesson 142, Hawkeye dives into the style of Son House. House pioneered an innovative style featuring strong, repetitive rhythms often played with a slide.

Length: 14:32 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only

About Hawkeye Herman View Full Biography ""One of America's finest acoustic guitarists and blues educators."
Cascade Blues Association

"Herman plays with a sensitive, reflective touch that continually draws attention to his vocals, which are effectively understated and free of affectation... Herman can rock with the best of them. A solid choice for fans of traditional acoustic blues."
Living Blues Magazine

" ...plays haunting music on a mournful guitar."
Los Angeles Times

"The only thing better than hearing this live album is seeing Hawkeye Herman in the flesh. Whether adding his own spin to blues classics or offering his own songs, Herman is a one-man history of blues, noteworthy guitar player and inimitable communicator. Miss him at your peril."
Blues Access

With over 40 years of performing experience, Michael "Hawkeye" Herman personifies the range of possibilities in blues and folk music. His dynamic blues guitar playing and vocal abilities have won him a faithful following and he leads a very active touring schedule of performances at festivals, concerts, school programs and educational workshops throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. His original music has been included in video dramas and documentaries and in four hit theatrical productions.

In 2000, Hawkeye was awarded Philadelphia's Barrymore Award for Excellence in Theatre for best original music in a theatrical production. "Everyday Living," Hawkeye's first nationally released album from 1987, now reissued on CD, features the late blues giants Charles Brown and "Cool Papa" Sadler, and established the demand for his now long-standing festival and concert touring. His latest CDs and DVD, "Blues Alive!" (CD), "It's All Blues To Me" (CD), and "Hawkeye Live In Concert" (DVD) have been greeted with rave reviews. Hawkeye's journalistic efforts have been published in numerous national and regional blues and music-related periodicals.

In 1998 he was the recipient of the Blues Foundation's "Keeping The Blues Alive" award for achievement in education. He served on the Board of Directors of the Blues Foundation for six years. Hawkeye was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of fame in 2004. In September of 2005, Hawkeye composed, at the request of the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), "Katrina, Oh Katrina (Hurricane Blues)," detailing the hurricane disaster on the Gulf Coast. The song was aired to over 7 million listeners on the popular "BBC Today" program. He is the cofounder of the Rogue Valley Blues Festival, Ashland, OR.

This musician has definitely carved out a spot for himself in the contemporary acoustic blues/folk field, and has earned a reputation as one of the most accomplished artists in the genre, and audiences throughout the US/Canada/Europe have come to know and appreciate Hawkeye's talent, dedication, and captivating performances.

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Our acoustic guitar lessons are taught by qualified instructors with various backgrounds with the instrument.


Eve Goldberg Eve Goldberg

Eve talks about the boom-chuck strum pattern. This strum pattern will completely change the sound of your playing.

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Dave Yauk Dave Yauk

Learn a simple mini song that illustrates just how intertwined scales and chords really are. Dave uses a G chord paired...

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Mark Kailana Nelson Mark Kailana Nelson

Mark Nelson introduces "'Ulupalakua," a song he will be using to teach different skills and techniques. In this lesson, he...

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Randall Williams Randall Williams

In this lesson Randall introduces the partial capo (using a short-cut capo by Kyser) and talks about how it can make the...

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Miche Fambro Miche Fambro

Miche introduces several new chord concepts that add color and excitement to any progression.

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Nick Amodeo Nick Amodeo

Nick explains how to play some of the most commonly used chords in the bluegrass genre.

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Pamela Goldsmith Pamela Goldsmith

Pamela brings a cap to her first 13 JamPlay lessons with another original etude inspired by the great Leo Brouwer. This is...

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Phil Keaggy Phil Keaggy

Welcome to the Phil Keaggy Master Course! In this series introduction, Phil shows and tells us what we can expect from this...

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Robbie Merrill Robbie Merrill

JamPlay welcomes bassist and founding member of Godsmack, Robbie Merrill. In this short introduction lesson, Robbie showcases...

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Jim Deeming Jim Deeming

Jim discusses the importance of setting goals. He provides some tips that will help steer your practicing in the right direction.

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Electric Guitar Lesson Samples

Our electric guitar lessons are taught by instructors with an incredible amount of teaching experience.


Eric Madis Eric Madis

In this lesson Eric talks about playing basic lead in the Memphis Blues style.

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Andy James Andy James

Get an in-depth look into the mind of virtuoso guitarist Andy James. Learn about Andy's early beginnings all the way up to...

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Dennis Hodges Dennis Hodges

Learn a variety of essential techniques commonly used in the metal genre, including palm muting, string slides, and chord...

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Glen Drover Glen Drover

Lesson 25 from Glen presents a detailed exercise that firmly builds up fret hand dexterity for both speed and accuracy.

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Alex Scott Alex Scott

Find out what this series is all about.

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David Davidson David Davidson

JamPlay interviews Revocation's Dave Davidson.

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Braun Khan Braun Khan

In this lesson, Braun teaches the chord types that are commonly used in jazz harmony. Learn how to build the chords and their...

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Tom Appleman Tom Appleman

Tom Appleman takes a look at a blues in E with a focus on the Chicago blues style. The bass line for Chicago blues is very...

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Steve Stevens Steve Stevens

Steve Stevens shows some of his go-to licks and ideas while improvising over a backing track he made.

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Steve Smyth Steve Smyth

JamPlay sits down with veteran fret grinder Steve Smyth of Forbidden and The EssenEss Project. He talks about how he got...

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Chord Library

Each chord in our library contains a full chart, related tablature, and a photograph of how the chord is played. A comprehensive learning resource for any guitarist.

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At JamPlay, not only can you reference our Chord Library, but you can also select any variety of chords you need to work on, and generate your own printable chord sheet.

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Unlike a lot of guitar websites and DVDs, we start our Beginner Lessons at the VERY start of the learning process, as if you just picked up a guitar for the first time.Our teaching is structured for all players.

Take a minute to compare JamPlay to other traditional and new methods of learning guitar. Our estimates for "In-Person" lessons below are based on a weekly face-to-face lesson for $40 per hour.

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I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


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