Richard Daniel's Ezine -- Issue #7

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Welcome to the latest issue of the
Ezine.  In this issue  we examine the "Dual Primary 
Positions: Lead Guitar's Fixed Playground".

Our tuition column looks at Running the Band!

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Richard Daniels Speaks About: Dual Primary Positions: Lead
Guitar's Fixed Playground

I really do love to outline lead guitar boxes. I love to see
them sort of come to life out of the homogenized, unbroken
string/fret pattern of the fretboard. I love to get it
right. I love to defeat the fretboard. I love to solve the
puzzle, to successfully diagram it, and just walk away. I
love to make it easy. How hard could it be if you can put
dots on spaces between frets in a diagram and that figures
it out? That is all you need to know. You see the scale you
play it. How hard can that be?

All of my frustration has been building up for some time
now. It must all come from the years I spent wondering and
wandering around on the fretboard, half-heartedly trying to
"break the code" of the great lead guitarwork I heard on all
of those classic rock records. Now it is payback time: I
know what scales rock guitarists use, I know how the scales
interact and I know how they work, how each degree of the
scale works. The drive that I used to have to know all of
these things has now been translated into a desire to
explain them to guitar students that want to know, and
figure out, the very same world that once confused me. All
of this leaves me with the question of exactly how to go
about explaining it. What is the best way, the best
approach. What line of teaching should I employ?

I see a great progression, a circle of explanation, that is
necessary for any student to truly understand a teacher's
theories. The nature of sound, the musical discoveries of
nature, the harnessing of these discoveries by a musical
instrument, the application of scales, the interaction of
common scales, basic scale position, examples of various
styles, execution, advanced application of styles etc. This
is the great progression. Today we are only going to stick
our toe into the deep waters of this circle by taking a
direct look at a single facet of this circle: The basic lead
guitar boxes presented by the major and minor pentatonic
scales. We are about to study the most basic fixed positions
that these two scales offer the blues/rock/pop lead

I want you to know that these positions are fixed. After I
figured out enough lead work by the guitar heroes of
history, these are the boxes that were found to ground all
lead styles. These boxes will lead you immediately to style
applications, on your own time, but now I want you to take a
cold hard look at just the primary outline presented by
these scales. Let's worry about the outline boxes today.
Let's take a look at "where" these scales fall, where they
overlap, and remove ourselves a bit from the variety of
styles that we ultimately want to grasp. Today we are
looking at the roadmap: the position that the scales take in
their primary position on the fretboard. The more refined
aspects of playing will follow after you see what is going
on with the primary position boxes. Consider it a spotlight
on usable territory, rather than a lesson on how to play.

Basic fact 1: All scales can be defined across and over a 12
fret long, six string wide digital playing matrix that
repeats itself over the fretboard's length (up to 24 frets,
two octaves)

Basic fact 2: Rock's useful pentatonic scales are both five
note scales (major penta: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, minor penta 1, -3,
4, 5, -7 known as blues scale) which both share the 1st and
5th of the major scale in their makeup.

Basic fact 3: Like two rugs lying over each other on a
floor, these two scales employ the very same territory of
the fretboard, yet supply the performer with two very
different, essential effects and scale spellings.

We will start by taking a look at the root note fret for the
key of A blues scale along the 5th fret. The root note fret
is the first fret of the 12 fret repeating pattern that
carries any and all scales across the universal chromatic
scale pattern which holds every playable musical note. The
reason it is called the "root note fret" is because it
carries the root (or tonic first) of the named scale on the
high and low E strings. For example, in the key of A the
root note fret is across the 5th fret, and the 17th fret.
The term root note fret refers to these special frets for
the key of A even if the singular scale studied is the
major, minor, pentatonic, or any scale, the root note fret
remains stationary with the first of the scale fixed on the
"outside" E strings of the pattern. The entire 12 fret
repeating pattern plays itself out over the fretboard area
between the 5th and the 17th frets, with the nut and the
first four frets offering just five positions of the total
12 in the repeating pattern.

Tab Transcription
Bar 1 - A Blues Scale, 5th position

Fretboard Diagram
A Blues Scale, 5th position, Star = flatted degree 

nut                  		       5st Fret

The Blues scale covers a twelve fret area just like any
other scale. What we have here is the absolute primary
position, within the ultimate fixed repeating pattern, that
all guitarists use to start their centering process for
playing lead guitar in the key of A. Traditionally, the
index finger grabs and plays all of the notes across the
fifth fret, while the ring, index or pinky play the other
note on each string two or three frets above the root note.
This is the lead guitarists first box. This is the place
where he starts. Even if he does not end up playing here,
this box is used to first center the use of any blues based
leadwork.  The fact that the blues scale plays all the way
across the fifth fret, with a blues scale degree on each
string, is further reason to see why this special fret is
the center of all real leadwork. Notice the tonic notes on 1
(string) / 5 (fret), 4/7 and 5/5. The fifths of the scale
can be found on 2/5 and 5/7.

The fixed unchanging pattern, or primary box, presented by
the blues scale on and above the root note fret is universal
for all 12 of the musical keys. The piano is a perfectly
wonderful instrument with all sorts of wild advantages
offered to the performing artist. However, when it comes to
learning a scale box, or position, the piano does not offer
the fixed unchanging "sliding uniform" boxes natural to the
guitar's makeup. If you learn the box outlined in bar 1, all
that you have to do to change keys is slide it up or down to
other fret positions- unchanged in its shape- to accommodate
other keys. The piano has a different scale configuration
for each key. The guitar offers the student a deal where the
overall pattern is studied once, and then applied to the 12
various musical degrees by "sliding" the unchanging pattern
to key positions named by the note played on the outside E
strings. In this way, the guitar can be learned by referring
to a series of "universal" scale patterns. The major scale,
the natural minor, the pentatonics etc., each scale has a
unique spelling, and each scale has its own distinctive 12
fret repeating pattern. In the key of A, the first fret of
this pattern falls across the 5th and the 17th fret.

Please note that there are only two notes played on each of
the six strings. This is because the nature of a pentatonic
scale is to have large gaps in its makeup. A diatonic
pattern, typically with seven notes, is far more complex and
commonly carries three notes up a string, often demanding
the use of the difficult pinky. For this reason the
pentatonic scales are relatively easy to handle and present
a simpler overall resulting pattern compared to the major

The blues scale also contains the flatted 3rd and the
flatted 7th in its makeup, and this means that common use of
these minor notes dictate that they be bent up towards the
major degree played just one fret above their position
anywhere on the board. The flatted third played on 3/5 is
regularly bent upward toward the major 3rd played on 3/6.
The same holds true of the flatted 7th wherever it is found
and employed throughout the 12 fret repeating blues scale

Now we will focus on the primary box of the major pentatonic
scale, and how it pertains to the basic blues scale box:

Bar 2 - A major Pentatonic Scale, 2th position

A major Pentatonic Scale, 2th position

nut                  		       5st Fret

First off, I want you to see what is going on here. The
major pentatonic is a subset of the major scale. The minor
pentatonic is a subset of the natural minor scale. Both are
five note scales, and both have a very similar interval
pattern. The blues scale (the minor penta) has an interval
pattern of 3 frets, 2 frets, 2 frets, 3 frets, 2 frets in
its makeup. The major penta has an interval pattern of 2
frets, 2 frets, 3 frets, 2 frets, 3 frets. Minor penta: 3,
2, 2, 3, 2. Major penta: 2, 2, 3, 2, 3. Ultimately as both
scales work themselves up any one string, they leave an
interval pattern which is identical as it runs. This allows
the studying of a grand scale pattern, with the single
pattern of the "penta form" being shifted to a major or
minor position at will. Look below:

Major Penta: Interval pattern between degrees of scale.
2 2 3 2 3
Minor Penta:
3 2 2 3 2

Shift the Major pattern over the Minor three frets and:

    2 2 3 2 3
 3 2 2 3 2

Perhaps now you can see how the scales can "shift." Tonic
stays the same for both keys. So does the 5th. The other
three degrees unique to each major and minor pentatonic
scale deserve their own non-unique, shifted to position
pattern. The same pattern hovers three frets apart, is what
I am trying to say. The minor form sits three frets up from
the major with the root note fret at the bottom of the
blues/minor scale form.

Keep in mind that when you consider the two pentatonic
scales together, that they have the 1st and the 5th of the
major scale in common, but differ in the other three degrees
that they carry, the blues scale with two minor degrees and
the 4th of the major in its make up. It just so happens to
be that the resulting overall pattern of both pentatonic
scales are identical in there shape and form, but appear
"shifted" three frets apart from each other.

In other words, any blues scale box anywhere on the board
can be "turned into" a major pentatonic box by shifting the
blues scale box down three frets. Understand that this
action is all taken place within a fixed key. The considered
key does not change, just the relative position of the
second scale box. It is just a matter of shifting a single
cookie cutter pattern to accommodate two different keys.

The blues scale box outlined in bar on the fifth fret is
directly shifted down to the second fret for playing in the
major pentatonic. At this time, I just want you to see these
primary positions where these two scales are commonly
played. The fact that each scale has a 12 fret repeating
pattern is a lot for a guitar student to digest. I know
that. But once you introduce the idea of two interacting
scales, with the same pattern, shifted three frets apart,
sharing the 1st and 5th from the major scale, well, things
get complicated real quick. Thing is - I would not bother
explaining all of this, if it were not for one cold fact:
these are the very boxes that I discovered the great lead
guitar players of rock history used to create their art.
Once I got down to copying their work note for note, this is
the structure I found. Let's take another look:

Bar 3 Blues scale, then major pentatonic: same box
  Blues                   Major Penta

Combined A Pentatonics, 5th and 2nd positions
 Blues minor penta Scale: bold italics
 Major penta: 2nd position
nut               2st Fret                     5st Fret

First check out the blues box across the 5th fret. The three
fret intervals in the scales makeup play themselves out over
the top two strings between the 5th and the 8th fret. Then
the box moves to whole step intervals above the 5th fret on
the 3rd and 4th strings. The very outline of this eight note
blues scale box is then shifted down three frets, and it
becomes a major penta box in the second position.  Note that
throughout the transition that the 1st and 5th of the major
scale appearing on 1/5 and 2/5 are common to both scales,
and their resulting boxes.

This study is just a quick window into how these two scales
interact, mix and match. The idea today is to recognize the
dual primary position boxes that they take across and around
the unchanging root note fret. If you finger them, it may
not sound much like music, and that is O.K. What I want you
to know is that this dual scale deal, as presented above,
will serve as a launching pad position for the interaction
of all major and minor scales and chords as your study of
the guitar continues.

After all is said and done, and the day closes on another
episode of rock and blues, there really are only three
bottom line cornerstone scale considerations for the lead
blues/rock guitarist to contend with: The blues scale, the
major pentatonic, and the named chord which the song is on
at any given time. Everything else is a partial study, a
spotlighted specific example of a larger whole. In the end,
everything is related to the major scale even if it was
never directly, melodically employed. Considering that, I
have shown you the ultimate "hot spot" over which these
considerations are anchored.

Nothing beats actually playing the boxes over music. Just
strum an A chord for a few minutes and tape or burn it down
onto something you can play out into the room. Nothing
fancy, just play a regular A chord with a nice rhythm. Then
play each of our studied positions over that A chord until
you begin to see the difference, and similarities, of the
two scales at hand, as they play out over these primary
unchanging positions. 

Richard Daniels



Running the Band

Its more like steering the band actually. I joined a rock
blues band about four years ago. It started out as a jam
band but turned into a power trio. Now understand how I feel
about the power trio. When I very first published my very
first book, The Heavy Guitar Bible, I purposefully mentioned
only three power trio groups. Namely, The Jimi Hendrix
Experience, Cream, and Led Zep. That was it as far as I was
concerned at the time. I made a real point out of not
mentioning any other band except in passing. To me, it was
the power trio with the bass and drums backing up a six
string electric. That was my set up. The strum along Beatles
format with four guys was not it. You had to give all of the
freedom to the lead guitarist. And when you had Jimi
Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton during their absolute
zenith, out to out prove to each other that their vision was
the greatest. The fretboard was transcended. Each artist
individually ran his band into shape. He took them there,
into the promised land, with him. Each guy led his band. Ran
his band.

I run a band. I run it once a week for three hours. I know
how to steer the damn thing around corners. I know the words
to the songs, and I know the chords to the songs. After a
while of me showing them, the bass player and the rest of
the band at hand get to know the songs. So I have a real
agenda…One that I keep getting back to. I start the song by
slamming out the chords of the song, say a Johnny Winter
number. I just play the skeleton of the song. Just the power
chords open, A open, G third fret. Power that boy down. Once
the drummer stepped out to get a beer and I didn't turn
around to see. Really. In cases like that I have to keep
pounding the chords as a challenge to everybody in the room
to just listen to me pound that damn chord change. Again and
again, etc., etc. That is what I call establishing the
theme. I hear Beethoven established the "theme" before he
elaborated it. I suppose I was doing much the same thing.

Power trios establish a theme with the bass and drums and
lead riff. Then after the lead player has it floating a bit,
he feels free to wander off and invent some lead that will
take the band into various phases of musical invention.
Steering a car down the road involves not only rolling down
the lane and dealing with it. Steering a car involves
keeping the vehicle on the road altogether. The pilot's
responsibility is to do a lot of refined driving for sure,
but just behind the veil of the songs beauty is the disaster
of its quick end. A good driver never lets you see it
happen, but it will come in a second if you let it. If your
attention to detail, and multilevel thinking as band leader
go off track for just a second, that is enough to show
instant results. So, underlying the great musical thunder is
a river of effort to control its course.

The artist is the pilot. The guy that has to run the band
through the different phases of a successful song. The band
has to have a guitar party, that is the goal. But somebody
still has to do it. Of course, that is why people play CDs
at parties, but I am talking about live stage performance.
How do you do it? How does it get done? Who is doing his
homework? Who is doing the driving. The drummer? The
bartender? No, it was Jimi, Eric and Jimi at the wheel. How
about it? Somebody has to run the band. The result is the
vision of one guy. Power trio city. The lead guitarist as
hero. He rescues everybody that is held under his spell. The
crowd knows the artist is beside himself as he takes the
band through its phases. The idea is sort of a shaman thing.
The power trio defines a mood that is so singular, that it
just simply defines itself as it goes. There is no other
way. There is no other alternative for the power trio lead
guitar player to take other than to simply invent one thing
after the other, hoping he can hold it on the road.

Ruling the changing phases of a band as the clock rolls is
an art of essential knowledge to the lead guitarist running
a power trio. Let's just run through the phases of a typical
effort to start, play, and finish a song with my band:

Phase One: It is the lead guitarist's job to nail the riff,
Just do it.

Phase Two: Get off the power chord and go to a more delicate
slid chord sequence over each A and G center.

Phase Three: Play distinct Chuck Berry licks that just come
out of nowhere. Make it sound exactly like Johhny Be Goode
for a few bars.

Phase Four: Grab drummers attention and go back to power
chords while starting to sing the first verse.

Phase Five: Play all sorts of lead guitar work for five or
ten minutes ranging from Stevie Ray to Santana.

Phase Six: Sing rest of verses with a whisper plowing each
silence with hammered on fourths above the third of a fluid
major pentatonic scale application.

Phase Seven: Return to Chuck Berry licks for a few more

Phase Eight: Make cut throat sign to drummer. End song on
sliding six chord.

What do you think? Hell of a effort wouldn't you say? Like I
said, somebody has to run the band. Somebody has to step up
to the plate and play the Stratocaster over all the scales.
Through all the phases until everybody pleased that the
point has been made. The power trio: reckless, practically
uncontrolled leadwork headed out of the lane, but will
provide thrills if kept on the road. Wanted: Driver. Must
not be afraid to fail. Must feel free to explore new
territory without abandon. Good driving record a help. RD



Richard, I was jamming the other day with another
guitarist that played A to D, then G to C, and finally to E.
I would like to know what you think about playing lead over
this chord pattern.

Besides saying that there are any number of ways to
skin a cat, let me just start you off playing in the key of
A blues centered on 5th position. When the second guitar
goes to D, keep playing in A blues but include the 6th major
scale degree on 2/7 into the mix. Take the above described
formula, and lower it two frets and play over the G and C
centers in the same way that you played over the A and D
centers, when the "time is right" over each chord as the
wheel turns. Smash an open E major, and pick up on the top
to strings ala "Bang a Gong", to great effect.

But of the utmost importance is grasping the next move. Just
cram 5th position A blues licks really, really hard just as
the last bars of E fade away. Jump the beat. Nail the tonic
ahead of time. This will have the effect that you have "come
to the rescue" of everybody within earshot, having the
effect of amazing your friends, drawing a great deal of
attention to yourself, and without a further doubt, prove to
everybody once and for all that you have the simmering,
undiscovered talent of a Paganini waiting to explode inside
you... Would you believe... strum each chord as they present
themselves along with your friend. RD


Dear reader, that wraps up this month's issue of Ezine.  Please send your questions, and 
your TAB requests.  We'll see you next issue.

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Cordially, Richard Daniels, Heavy Guitar Company /
Richard Daniels Productions. Voice: (610) 869-5885 
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