There's nobody to take an instrumental solo at the jam session I attend. I can do a little fingerstyle and a couple of single-note or double-stop leads on this and that, but I'm more like Guitar George in Dire Straits first hit, "The Sultans of Swing:" I don't know all the chords, but I'm strictly rhythm, I've never wanted to make it cry or sing. (Digression: Seems like only a little while ago that song came out, but not really, it was 1979 when it first rolled into MTV's stage. Thirty-two years. Lord, how time flies ...)
Mmm. Anyway, I realized that at the jam group if there are three rhythm guitarists, one of us needs to step up, and if it's me, I'm gonna have to at least learn the pentatonic boxes.
These "boxes" are patterns on the fretboard that, when properly played, give you the ability to do leads over chords.
For those of you not guitarists, playing lead involves knowing one's scales, and one can get by with pentatonics because they tend to sound pretty good over a lot of blues, rock, or folk. I know two of these, but there are five in the CAGED progression–the letters stand for notes–that I should know and be able to play.
(This doesn't scratch guitar modes very deeply. Let me exhaust my knowledge of that here for you:
Ionian - Same as the major scale
Dorian - A scale with a flattened 3rd and 7th
Phrygian - A scale with a flattened 2nd, 3rd, 6th & 7th
Lydian - A scale with a sharpened 4th
Mixolydian - A scale with a flattened 7th
Aeolian - Same as a natural minor scale. A scale with a flattened 3rd, 6th & 7th
Locrian - A scale with a flattened 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th & 7th
If this all sounds like Greek to you, that's because it is, and good guitarists can play these without knowing the names, they just noodle them out.)
All of which is to say that I'm going to drop round Artichoke Music, which is a store/music school, and take a basic blues class. I have the teacher's DVD on order, and I'll fiddle with that, then go and see if I can make a dent in my ignorance ...