Step By Step Lesson For Easily Deriving A Blues Scale

This is a short step by step lesson that will teach you how to derive a "blues scale" easily from a Major Scale.

Ultimate Guitar
Hi Ultimate Guitar Mates, This is my very first lesson in this forum and please do let me know your feedback on this lesson by leaving a comment. In this lesson I will show you how to derive a C Blues Scale in a step by step fashion from a Major Scale, and for that I will be using a C Major Scale for explaining all the scales.
Major Scale Formula 
Whole Step - Whole Step - Half Step - Whole Step - Whole Step - Whole Step - Half Step
Whole Step is equivalent to 2 frets or 2 semi tones (a.k.a. Whole Tone) Half Step is equivalent to 1 fret or 1 semi tone (a.k.a. Semi Tone) And by applying this formula, we can easily build the C Major Scale.
C Major Scale 
C - D - E - F - G - A - B
What is a Blues Scale? A Blues Scale is nothing but a Minor Pentatonic Scale with a raised 4th note (or a lowered 5th note) added to it. So the next step would be to derive a Minor Pentatonic Scale from this Major Scale (in this case, the C Major Scale)
Minor Pentatonic Scale Formula
R - b3 - 4 - 5 - b7
R = Root Note or the first note of the Major Scale b3 = Flattened 3rd note of a Major Scale b7 = Flattened 7th note of a Major Scale Flattening just means lowering a note by a Half Step and is denoted by "b" in musical notations.
C Minor Pentatonic Scale
C - Eb - F - G - A
As I said earlier, Blues Scale is nothing but a Minor Pentatonic Scale with an added raised(sharpened('#') 4th note (or a lowered(flattened('b'))5th note) to it. Hence, we get the blues scale formula as
Blues Scale Formula
R - b3 - 4 - 4#(b5)- 5 - b7
The added 4#(b5) note is known as the "blues note" which gives you that bluesy feel to your licks and solos.
C Blues Scale
C - Eb - F - F# - G - A
That's it! We derived the blues scale from a Major Scale. So essentially we learned 3 different things here, deriving a Major Scale, a Minor Pentatonic Scale and ultimately a Blues Scale. Now you can apply all the above formulas to derive different Major Scales, Minor Pentatonic Scales and Blues Scales, pretty easily. I hope you found this lesson easy to read and understand. And Thanks a lot for stopping by!

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    just a couple problems with your scales..... C major is correct- C D E F G A B C however C minor would be - C D Eb F G Ab Bb C so your C minor pentatonic would be - C Eb F G Bb C and the blues scale would change to - C Eb F Gb G Bb C using A would be a M6, which isn't even diatonic to the C minor scale. Also I used Gb instead of F# because it looks cleaner to use all sharps or all flats instead of a mixture of both. this was up for 3 days now and no one else corrected you on it, and someone gave you a 9! I gave you a 6 because this is a major mistake for anyone new to blues scales, and trying to play exactly what you wrote because it wont sound right to play your C blues scale. I would like to emphasize that this is a good reason to proof read your work. I'm not trying to put you down because beyond this problem, this is a pretty good lesson, but overall it can be confusing for a beginner.
    Zach Eapen
    Thanks a lot for rectifying me, i completely accept my mistake. Extremely sorry about it. Will proof read it multiple times before posting it from now on. apologies.
    Zach Eapen
    Yes krypticguitar87, it is good to use all flats or sharps while writing down a scale. Noted that down too. Thanks.
    in some music guitarist plays G maj and F maj in the key of G maj, how does this happen can you tell me? how does G maj and F maj can be played in one song
    I recommend revising the lesson to give the correct blues scale notes for those folks who may not read the comments...
    If we work out the Blues scale in key of E, based on this formula, it should be this, right? E Gb A Bb B Db However, in most places I've seen the E Blues scale is denoted as: E G A Bb B D Is the formula incorrect?