I've been trying to get myself into blues improvisation. Main thing to hold on i found were the 5 boxes

  1. Main box with root on 1st (Minor box)
  2. Albert king box (Minor box)
  3. BB-king box (Major box)
  4. Claptop box (Minor box)
  5. Mainbox with root on 3rd (Major box)

I'v learned how to transition between these boxes but in soloing it does not sound right to go from minor to major boxes and cover your whole neck in a single fluid solo. This only sounds right when leaving a pause between these parts.

Why are there some people learning these transitions and how do i incorporate a solo going from the 1 box up to the clapton box, and from the BB-king box to the 5 box?

3 Answers 3


These are pentatonic boxes. Major and minor pent notes are the same - as in A pent has the same notes, exactly, as F#m, it's just that the home note for each is different.Imagine the box between 2nd fret and 5th fret. Start on 6th string, 2nd fret with the pattern, only go to top string 2nd fret = F#m pent. Now start at 6th string 5th fret, end at top string, same fret = A maj pent. I've suggested going bottom - top so it sounds complete in each case. So, same notes, different home place, seemingly two different keys.Stick with that box, but move it up 3 frets. Now we have C maj pent and Am pent.

Soloing needs more than just playing notes in a scalar sequence, but initially, you can switch between these two boxes, 3 frets apart, for soloing in A blues. The lower box will sound sweeter, as it's A maj pent., while the upper will have more edge, using minor notes over the A or A7 chords, but it still works.Sliding from one note in one box to another (on the same string!) in the other box sounds good, and then your hand is ready for that new box.

Without going into much more detail, there are bends to consider, often bending from one pent note to the next, same with slides, hammers, etc. Then there's the missing note which makes pent into blues: the flat 5. In between the third and fourth notes played in min pent is where it lives.

Also consider that often in blues, the minor 3rd is not left as such, but is bent up - sometimes all the way up a fret, sometimes teasingly a little bit. The listener will take it the rest of the way! So, using that, when you do move to the major box, it sounds similar.


Agree with Tim's answer.

In addition, consider overlaying major and minor boxes for the same root note. For example, learn to play A major and A minor in more or less the same position during your solos which would mean overlaying the Am and F#m blues boxes. You'll find a number of blues tropes that way as well as making your transitions between the boxes more fluid.

Also if you don't do this already, learn to transition between any box up and down any string. This will also increase your fluidity and ease your transitions.

Finally, don't be afraid of pauses. Pauses are important in both blues and jazz soloing. As Thelonius Monk once said, "Play the rests."


I have found by learning my blues licks that are (major, minor or a combo), If I play them at 3 different speeds and texture they will fit into many songs. (sometime the same song)...

I can play the same scale/lick in two different time signature songs and they sound totally and remarkably different...

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