Changing Scales with Chords (Guitar Lesson)


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Brad Henecke

Changing Scales with Chords

In this lesson Brad Henecke talks about changing the pentatonic/blues scales with each chord in a chord progression.

Taught by Brad Henecke in Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke seriesLength: 11:08Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (05:53) Changing Scales with Chords Several approaches to scales can be taken when improvising over a basic 12 bar blues progression. A single scale can be used throughout all of the chord changes. Thus far, you have learned four scales that remain consonant over the entire blues progression. These scales are the minor pentatonic, major pentatonic, minor blues scale, and major blues scale. In this lesson, Brad applies all scalar concepts to a 12 bar blues in the key of G major. Over this progression, the G minor pentatonic, G major pentatonic, G minor blues scale, and the G major blues scale can all be used by themselves. If necessary, review these scales at this time.

Note: Complete fretboard patterns to these scales can be found in the JamPlay scale library. This section can be accessed through the "Teaching Tools" button on the left hand side of the homepage.

Blending Scales

In the context of a 12 bar blues solo, any of the four scales listed above can be blended within a single lick. For example, the major and minor versions of the pentatonic scale can be combined in a lick to create some interesting new tonal colors. DJ Phillips has addressed this concept in a few of his Phase 2 Blues lessons. Check out lesson 17 from DJ's series for more information.

Changing Scales with Chords

It is also possible to change scales along with each of the chord changes in the 12 bar blues progression. Brad demonstrates this concept within the context of a blues progression in G major. Review the chord changes for this progression listed below.

Measures 1-4: I chord (G)
Measures 5-6: IV chord (C)
Measures 7-8: I chord (G)
Measure 9: V chord (D)
Measure 10: IV chord (C)
Measure 11: I chord (G)
Measure 12: V chord (D)*

*The I chord, G, can also be played in the final measure.

Over the first four measures of the progression, Brad improvises licks derived from the G minor pentatonic scale. He utilizes the first pentatonic pattern that he taught you earlier in the series. When the chord progression changes to C in the fifth measure, he changes scales. For the next two measures, he plays licks from the C minor pentatonic scale in eighth position. Next, he returns to the initial G minor pentatonic pattern in measures seven and eight. Over the D chord in measure 10, Brad shifts up to the D minor pentatonic pattern played in tenth position.

This same approach can be used with the minor blues scale, major blues scale, and the major pentatonic scale. Simply play the chosen scale in the same key as the root note of each chord. This process is outlined below with the major pentatonic scale.

Measures 1-4: I chord (G) - G major pentatonic
Measures 5-6: IV chord (C) - C major pentatonic
Measures 7-8: I chord (G) - G major pentatonic
Measure 9: V chord (D) - D major pentatonic
Measure 10: IV chord (C) - C major pentatonic
Measure 11: I chord (G) - G major pentatonic
Measure 12: V chord (D)* - D major pentatonic

Practice Time

Record yourself playing a 12 bar blues shuffle in the key of G major at a moderately slow tempo. Then, practice these improvisational techniques over the recording. If you don't have access to any recording equipment, practice improvising over one of the 12 bar blues backing tracks available on JamPlay. Brad has recorded a few 12 bar blues tracks in the key of A major. Jay Alton also recorded a basic blues shuffle in the key of E.
Chapter 2: (05:14) Using Multiple Shapes Within the context of many licks, it isn't always practical to shift up and down the neck to different scale patterns. For this reason, Brad demonstrates how to play the G minor, C minor, and D minor pentatonic scales in one small area of the fretboard.

Over all of the G chords in the blues progression, he utilizes the G minor pentatonic scale played at the third fret. Over the C and D chords, he uses a different fretboard shape of the minor pentatonic scale. Within this pattern, the root notes are located on the fifth and third strings. When this pattern is applied to C minor pentatonic, it is played at the third fret. The pattern is shifted up two frets to form a D minor pentatonic scale.

Practice improvising over a 12 bar blues in the key of G using these scale patterns. Remember to switch scales as the chords change!

Note: Open the "Supplemental Content" tab for fretboard diagrams and tablature to all scales discussed in the lesson video.

Video Subtitles / Captions





Supplemental Learning Material

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Member Comments about this Lesson

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kevinballard68kevinballard68 replied on April 23rd, 2011

hey brad im getting better at recognizing some of the note s within the scales but im struggling putting them together like you do any advise

lee_mynattlee_mynatt replied on February 25th, 2010

I get confused on how you know which chord shapes will determine which position to use on the pentatonic scales

handsfromasshandsfromass replied on October 31st, 2012

i guess that it depends on whatever you want to do or to play, each position gives same notes or you are playing either same notes. then you decide which position to play next to chord, please correct me if i'm wrong....thx :D

JarjorJarjor replied on January 4th, 2010

brad,your style is great dude.I like the way you teach and play rather than all talk, keep up the good work thanx

crashballcrashball replied on March 24th, 2009

Are the other patterns also related to a chord shape? how would those fit in? Is this sort of like the CAGED system i heard a bit about? Certain shaped bar chords relate to one of the patterns?

tjamesmichaeltjamesmichael replied on February 18th, 2009

Brad. When I solo over the 4 chord with its parent scale it sounds like Im changing keys. It just dont sound right. The 1 and 5 are cool but the 4 sounds off. Any advice here? Thanks, love your lessons.

dash rendardash rendar replied on March 9th, 2009

In Brad's soloing at the end of Scene 1, he is effectively changing keys for his soloing: so over the G he's soloing in G minor pentatonic, over the C, he's soloing in C minor pentatonic, and over the D, he's soloing in D minor pentatonic. So this isn't like simply switching modes relative to a common 'parent' scale. If you're finding this doesn't quite sound right over the IV chord, try playing it as a C *major* pentatonic, rather than the minor. (But continue to play the minor pentatonic for the I and V chords. Or, play major pentatonics over both IV and V.) Depending on the song you're soloing to, I think this might often give a better fit. If this helps at all, please let me know how you get on.

tjamesmichaeltjamesmichael replied on February 11th, 2009

Allways great lessons from Brad!

ZerimarZerimar replied on January 7th, 2009

Great lesson Brad. I needed this one badly. I've written many chord progressions, and have put a lead on top of the chords. I basically arpeggiate the chord in the progression. For example, if I was playing (strumming) a D chord, I would hold the D chord, and just pick the individual notes in the D chord, and call that my lead. I would also play the D major scale notes on top of a D chord. Doing that seems to be more of a true lead on top of a chord. A question that comes to mind is this: Is it generally the norm to play the same note scale on top of the same note chord (e.g. G scale on top of a G chord)? I haven't tried mixing up the scales and chords too much (e.g. G scale on top of a D chord), but I'm thinking you will tell me that if it sounds good, then it's good. I'm writing songs, and have been doing things mainly by ear. I am now becoming much more aware of keys, notes, etc. that I am playing. This theory is helping me tremendously. It's like having a map. Everything makes so much more sense to me. Thanks.

will315will315 replied on January 7th, 2009

Thanks Brad, I'll have to watch this a few times. It's just what I needed to get out of my stale practice routine.

tomorrowtomorrow replied on January 4th, 2009

Anyway Brad .This is a great lesson. You are doing some terrific work here I'm a fan thanks regards Les

Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

In this Phase 2 series Brad Henecke will school you in the art of rock guitar. You will not only learn how to play some of your favorite songs in this series, but you will also learn how to create your own.



Lesson 1

Basic Rock Guitar

This lesson covers the absolute basics of rock guitar. Learn about the electric guitar, pickups, amplifiers, changing strings, and more.

Length: 52:09 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Learning Chords

The first step of your rock guitar experience is learning some of the more popular chords and that is what this lesson is all about.

Length: 42:30 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

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Brad Henecke introduces common strumming patterns and barre chords.

Length: 42:23 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

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In this lesson Brad covers some of the more advanced barre chord shapes. He applies these shapes to the song "Hotel California."

Length: 41:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Blues and Scales

Rock has its roots in the blues. Brad helps you explore the wonderful world of blues in this lesson. He also covers some chord theory.

Length: 48:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Tricks and Lead

This lesson is all about specific techniques used by lead guitarists.

Length: 52:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Jammin' with Scales

This lesson details how to improvise with the blues scale.

Length: 27:27 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

3 Songs

In this fun lesson, Brad Henecke teaches you riffs from 3 classic rock songs.

Length: 28:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

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Power chords help give rock music that "punch you in the face" feel. Learn basic power chords in this lesson.

Length: 13:22 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

2 New Songs

Are you ready to learn "Ain't Talking About Love" by Van Halen and "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC? That's what this lesson is all about.

Length: 27:32 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Pentatonic Scale

Brad teaches the first pattern of the minor pentatonic scale and explains how it relates to the blues scale.

Length: 14:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Second Pattern

Brad covers the second pattern for both the minor blues and minor pentatonic scales.

Length: 9:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Message in a Bottle

Learn the classic rock song "Message in a Bottle."

Length: 10:22 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Third Pattern

This great lesson covers the 3rd fretboard pattern of the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales.

Length: 7:19 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Colorful Chord Tension

Brad demonstrates how open strings can be added to chord shapes you are already familiar with.

Length: 9:09 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

The Fourth Pattern

Brad covers the fourth pattern of the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales.

Length: 8:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

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In this lesson Brad demonstrates how to play the Beatles song "Daytripper."

Length: 15:21 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

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Lesson 19

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Learn the classic rock song "Brown Eyed Girl" in this episode of Rock Guitar.

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Lesson 22

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Length: 31:04 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

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Lesson 25

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Lesson 26

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Lesson 27

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Length: 13:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 28

The Lydian Mode

Brad continues his discussion of the modes. You will learn the Lydian mode in this lesson.

Length: 9:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

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Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 30

The Aeolian Mode

Continuing with his modal lessons, Brad Henecke teaches the Aeolian mode.

Length: 9:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 31

The Locrian Mode

The final lesson in our modal series covers the Locrian mode.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 32

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Length: 7:18 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 33

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In this lesson Brad Henecke teaches you some fun licks that can be used in your own guitar solos.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

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Length: 17:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 35

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Length: 8:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

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In the last lesson, Brad Henecke compared some scales that are major or dominant in quality. Now, he repeats this process with minor scales.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

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This lesson is all about 1 string scales. Learning scales on 1 string is essential to your knowledge of the fretboard.

Length: 8:34 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 38

One String Ionian Mode

Brad demonstrates a one string version of the Ionian mode. This lesson demonstrates the importance of horizontal scales.

Length: 7:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 39

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Brad continues his discussion of single string scales. He explains how to play the Aeolian mode across a single string.

Length: 4:11 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 40

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Brad explains how to locate octaves within scale patterns. He demonstrates a cool lick that involves playing simultaneous octaves.

Length: 7:07 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 41

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Length: 5:18 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 42

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Brad introduces the harmonic minor scale. He explains how it can be applied to the solo break in "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 43

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Length: 23:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
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Lesson 51

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In this lesson Brad Henecke talks about changing the pentatonic/blues scales with each chord in a chord progression.

Length: 11:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
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About Brad Henecke View Full Biography Brad Henecke was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 5th of 1963. He has been a fan of music for as long as he & his family can remember. You could always find him running around the farm wailing on his cardboard guitar, pretending to be a member of the rock band KISS. Additional inspiration came during his first concert when he got the chance to see Boston & Sammy Hagar in the early 1970's.

This opened up a whole new world of rock and roll music for him; his parents noticed his growing interest in music and enrolled him into guitar lessons when he was 13.

From there he jumped into two years of lessons at a local music store in Cedar Rapids. After discovering Eddie Van Halen, Brad knew that the guitar would always be a part of his life. He took his love throughout the city as he played as a pit musician & jammed at parties for friends.

This made him thirsty for more. He enrolled classes at Kirkwood Community College & also took lessons from the one & only Craig-Erickson (www.craig-erickson.com).

His love for music landed him a gig opening for Molly Hatchet in Cedar Rapids with a band called "Slap & Tickle". He has also played in the Greeley Stampede show for quite a few years with "True North".

Brad is currently playing in Greeley, Colorado with a rock band titled "Ragged Doll". They play a wide variety of music with an emphasis on classic rock from the 60's to present, with Brad playing electric guitar in the five piece lineup.

He currently jams on his all-time favorite guitar: a Paul Reed Smith Custom 24. Beyond guitar, he plays also plays drums & bass guitar. He has also been known to thrash a banjo from time to time. He is still actively playing & passing his 31 years of playing experience on to others (you!).

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