Robben Ford’s Diminished Blues

Robben Ford’s stinging and lyrical blues playing can’t be decoded or mapped out using scales or fretboard patterns, because, well, you can’t reverse-engineer soul. That said, Ford does have a few intellectual tricks up his sleeve you might find compelling, including the convenient way he recycles and transplants licks generated from the “half/whole” symmetrical diminished scale. “A great thing about this scale’s stacked minor thirds is that they allow you to invert licks and chords easily,” says Ford. “Any lick you create using the scale will probably sound just as cool—but totally different—played a minor third higher up the neck. For instance, once you’ve played the opening line, simply move your fretting hand up a minor third [three frets] and play the lick again [bar 2], and then again up another minor third [bar 3]. Each new version of the phrase tags different scale tones, yet still somehow sounds great over G7.” Extra credit: Try the lick’s final inversion, which starts at th
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