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The Blues Foundation Course

Lesson 10 - Putting It All Together

We have covered a lot of ground in this course. And so don't worry if you are feeling a little overwhelmed! As I have stressed throughout, the best way to get to grips with this material is to take it nice and slowly. Learning new concepts on the guitar is not a race. And in fact, rushing through material is often counterproductive.

This is because when you rush, it is more likely that you will fail to grasp the material the first time around. You will then have to keep returning to it to fill in the missing gaps in your knowledge.

The first step in putting all of this material together is simply to take your time to consolidate the movements and connecting points we have covered throughout. When players truly grasp this, the quality of their improvisations drastically improves. 

Immediately they sound smoother. The players themselves move with greater freedom and their solos typically sound more melodic. So take your time to get comfortable with the ideas covered in these lessons. 

Once you do feel comfortable with those ideas, there are just two final 'bonus' ideas which you can also consider. And these are as follows:

• Mind The Gap •

One of the benefits of learning how to connect the pentatonic shapes is that you don't need to jump around the fretboard. When players have no mechanism of moving between scale shapes, their solos can sound quite broken up and disconnected. This is particularly true if they make jumps from shapes that aren't next to one another. For example if they move from shape 1 to shape 3, or from shape 2 to shape 5 etc.

Learning the connections covered throughout this course immediately remedies this problem. However, it doesn't mean that you always need to move between the shapes in a stepwise motion. And in fact you can create some very cool licks by moving between shapes in bigger motions. As I show in the video, one example is to move directly from the 7th fret on the G string to the 12th fret, as follows:

Bypassing the 9th fret on the G string means you move straight from the first shape of the A minor pentatonic scale to the third. It allows you to cover a large portion of the fretboard and to do so in a smooth and musical way.

This is just one example of many. You can execute this movement between any shapes and on any string. Try out a variety of ideas and experiment with adding bigger jumps like this into your improvisations. When you do so, just remember to slide. Otherwise you risk creating quite an abrupt and staccato sound in your solos.

• Play Bottleneck •

If you extend this idea and use slides as a way of connecting notes all over the fretboard, you can create a very cool 'bottleneck' feel in your playing. Slide guitar sounds so expressive because it allows you to target all of the microtones that exist between your frets. This mimics the human voice and gives your playing a beautiful and expressive quality.

So if you want to create a slightly different feel in your playing - without having to actually play using a slide - I would highly recommend this technique. It will allow you to traverse across large sections of your fretboard in a smooth and musical way.

You don't need to implement this technique in a way that is quite so exaggerated as my demonstration in the video. Really pushing this idea can sound a little forced. But try to implement it in your playing in a more subtle way and see if it resonates with you and your style.

• Closing Thoughts •

Well there we have it - how to connect the 5 pentatonic shapes. I hope that you have found this course helpful, and that it has empowered you to move around the fretboard with freedom.

Getting to grips with the ideas covered in this course transformed my improvisations and fundamentally changed the way I viewed the fretboard. And I hope that it does the same for you. Good luck, and I’ll see you soon!