Phrygian Blues Scale Guitar Tutorial: Licks, Tabs, Jam Track & Theory

Phrygian Blues Scale Guitar Tutorial: Licks, Tabs, Jam Track & Theory

Jack here, Jbf music and guitar lessons, in
this quick guitar tricks, we’re looking at the often neglected Phrygian blues scale;
if you want an example of this in action, check out live versions of Jamrroqui’s Deeper
Underground- link in the description and pinned comment. Feel free to use the timestamps in
the pinned comment and video description to navigate to whatever parts are most relevant
to yourself. Right, the scale it’s self is a Phrygian,
with the added blues note But rather than start there I want to peel it back a bit.
First up, lets stick with a C minor blues scale, like in bar 1 there. However we’ll
play this over a Phrygian backing. I’ll link to the full jam track with that card
in the top right along with a more mellow version, but for now, here’s a clip of it.
Just play some of your usual blues scale licks, listening to how it sounds and feels against
this backing. Ok, so hopefully that sounded a bit edgy,
but kind of cool as well. It might take a few tries to get to the stage where it feels
a bit more natural. The reason it might sound weird is because Phrygian blues is not that
common a sound, when compared to The Dorian blues scale, for example, lesson card up there.
Even though you’re sticking to a C blues scale it will sound more exotic, purely because
of the backing. Which is a bit of a bonus tip- a more sophisticated backing, of modal
backing, can make what you’re playing sound more complex, or modal, even if it’s based
in the pentatonic. And this blending idea will be a foundation for this tutorial, a
great tip I heard from Guthrie Govan is to think of scales as dimmer switch, the pentatonic
is one shade, Phrygian is a another. Rather than being binary on/off, we can blend in
different shades of each scale. So, a great way of doing this is, like you just did, start
with your blues scale, but then start adding in more notes, here we’ll use the the b2nd.
A real key to the Phrygian sound. It occurs in these 3 places which you can see in bar
2. And when we put that into the scale, which is bar 3 . So now I’d suggest playing over
that same backing, but this time when you want to hear more Phrygian shades play that
note a bit more. The next notes we’ll add in are the b6ths
in that 1st bar there . When we do this we get the full Phrygain Blues scale . The reason I’ve stripped back the scale
and built it up, is to outline that a lot of the licks and ideas you already have will
translate well, and with some minor tweaks others will slot right in there as well. The
risk of learning a new scale is that we just meander up and down it and all the stuff we
know as players goes out the window; well that certainly was the case with myself in
years gone by anyway! So again, when you want shades of Phrygain, put in the b2nd and b6th,
when you want it less edgy, lean more on the blues or minor pentatonic scale. Here’s
that backing track again Bonus tip while these notes add some nice
flavour, resolving to the Root, b3rd and 5th most of the time will still sound great. In
particular I really like ending a lick on the 5th, when playing in Phrygian . Hopefully
you’ve got a bit of a feel for this scale and developed; or started to create; some
of your own ideas, so now we’ll look at what I played in the intro, which is split
into 3 licks, the first being Ok, quite a bit going on here It’s starting
out purely Phrygian; leaning in to that b2nd for more bite. The semi tone bend sees a hint
at the blues scale, then I’ve just launched into the blues scale, giving more shades from
the minor pentatonic for the rest of the bar. Bonus tip! For me, this is a key for the Phrygian
blues, and this is purely personal taste, but I really like to use it to add some spice
over essentially very bluesy rock licks. If I want more edge I’ll use the b2nd and b6th
more, but I think the melodic qualities of the minor pentatonic really help reign the
scale in, so it doesn’t sound too out there! Bar 2 starts with a Phrygian descent, only
calling upon the blues note in that last group of 16th notes, for a bit of hot sauce to round
up the lick, ending on the root for added stability. You can even mix in some Phrygian
dominant; like Adrian Smith’s solo in Iron maiden’s wicker man; lesson card in the
top right; but I’m not delving in to that particulate hybrid scale in this lesson! Abandoning the bluesy vibes from the last
lick this is very Phrygian; really hitting it’s money note of b2nd and b6th. Root,
b2nd, Root. 5th, b6th, 5th. Then- Root, b2nd, root, but the octave higher. This is a simple
theme, but really effective to get a sinister semitone vibe going on. In bar 3, when I bring
in the blues note; going 4th, blues note, 4th; I’m not using it in a bluesy way at
all really, more for tension. Then I’m really trying to milk this; remember repetition is
powerful tool, abuse it as much as you can get away with; bonus points if you got that
reference, haha! But yeah, squeezing every penny out of my theme, by going blues note
(a b5th) to the 5th, then back to the blues note for some real tension. Bonus tip! You
could even go 5th to the b6th if you wanted this lick and theme to go on longer. But at
this point I wanted to wrap up the lick and just came down; b2nd, Root, b6th, 5th. This
time ending the lick on the 5th; you might have guessed the final lick we’re going
to lok at ends on the b3rd; I’ve done this to help tie in to what I was saying before
about resolving these licks to the chord tones and to give a rough idea of how each feels.
We’ve done a fairly bluesy lick, a pretty Phrygian one, albeit with different shades
of each through the licks, so the next area I would suggest looking at is exotic sounds,
maybe a bit like Marty Friedman; tutorial card in the top right for more on his exotic
scale usage. Starting on the 5th, I’m really playing
about with having a chromatic run from the 4th, blues note, 5th, b6th. So this bend hints
at the b6th, pulling off to the 4th, sliding to the blues note, then giving it a delayed
bend up a semi tone to the 5th. bonus tip! Here you could tap the 15th fret on the b
string; keeping it bent for a more lilting exotic sound. I opted to make life a bit easier
for myself by playing the b3rd on the 11th fret on the E string instead. The using the
root and 2nd as a lead in, we have a fairly “out” sounding string skip: 3brd, 2nd,
Root, Blues note, 4th, b3rd and back up the same way. I’m repeating this, then, squeezing
5 notes in to the space of 4 for a final flourish before ending up on that b3rd. If you’re
looking for more licks or something to bounce off check out this solo trading video, where
I pop up and do some leads over that same backing. On a sort of side note, I tend to
use this pentatonic shape as the basis for a lot of lessons, partly because its well-known;
most player will have a decent grasp of it and it’s fairly intuitive, but please let
me know if you’d prefer different boxes; in fact I’ll put a poll up in the community
bit, so please go and vote in that! That was a quick introduction to the Phrygian
blues scale, this has been Quick guitar tricks, that’s the playlist there. For some more
exotic lick check out this George Lynch Pro Tips lesson and if you’ve enjoyed this,
and want to stay up to date with the channel hit subscribe, share, like and enable notifications
with the little bell on the side, if you feel so inclined, cheers guys.


  1. ♫ Timestamps ♫
    0:00– Intro Demo
    0:44– Lesson Outline
    1:28– Jam Track Clip 1
    3:02– Adding The b2nd
    3:43– Jam Track Clip 2
    4:10– Adding The b6th & The Full Scale
    5:10– Jam Track Clip 2
    5:44– Notes To Try Targeting
    6:23– Lick 1
    7:16– Lick 1 Analysis
    8:44– Lick 2
    9:30– Lick 2 Analysis
    11:21– Lick 3
    12:01– Lick 3 Analysis

  2. Good lesson, Mr. JB ! It's going to be funny to see how many new generation rockers see this exotic scales or modes like "the last shout of fashion". Some exotic scales and modes were created centuries ago. Ohers are more new. Contemporary musicians started to compose new music using non traditional western scales and concepts. And the formula did work! Just take a look to the amazing music work made by Chuck Schuldiner (Death) and all their followers of the music genre. Progressive rock bands, like ELP, YES, RUSH, etc., their musicians were innovators.If you don't like Rock or Metal music, just take a look to Jazz or Fusion players, back in the 70's.Their music was loaded of exotic scales and modes, sometimes sounding weird, but beautiful. Guitar players like Al Di Meola, Allan Holdsworth, John Mc Laughlin and Gabor Szabo, among many others, used the phrygian blues scale, along with other modes, extensively. Their work was brilliant and unique. Guitar players who don't expand their knowledge on music, they will be lost in space. Thanks JBF for the lesson. Excellent video and well explained. Cheeeerrrrsssss 🤘👾🤘🍺🍺🍺.

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