Utilizing And Understanding The Blues Scale

This is my second series of lessons.. Taking the pentatonic scale to the next level and introducing the blues scale. I Will include One lick for this scale to get you started playing it.

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Ultimate Guitar
6
Okay! Blues Scale! Like the name suggests. The blues scale is useful In Blues rock of course! But it is another versatile widely used scale, Just like the Pentatonic minor from my previous lesson. In fact the Blues scale Is basically the same thing as a pentatonic minor + 1 note. You add a flatted Fifth to the Pentatonic Minor scale. Heres a diagram explaining how to get from a Minor scale.. to a pentatonic minor scale.. To the blues scale. Minor Scale In Am
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (8)
A B C D E F G (A)
Pentatonic Minor scale In Am Since you only Use the Root(1), Minor Third(3), Fourth(4), Fifth(5), And Minor 7th notes(7).
1 3 4 5 7 (8)
A C D E G (A)
To get a blues scale from this formula.. You just add a Flatted Fifth note(5b) to the formula above. So 1 3 4 5b 5 7 The flatted 5th note in this case would be E flat since it is between the 4th note( Which is a D) and the 5th note( which is an E) So technically you can call it a D sharp as well. These two notes are En-harmonics which mean they are the same note Just with two different names. Anyways..
1 3 4 5b 5 7(8)
A C D Eb E G(A)
Those notes make up the A blues scale. Which can be played in the Key of A minor/C major. I suggest finding a BLUES backing track on YouTube in the key of A minor.. And practice playing this scale and messing around with it over the backing music. After all that is why you are here right? to learn how to Solo and improvise. Anyways. Here is a tab for the Aforementioned scale. Ascending and Descending.. As you can tell.. it is very similar to the A minor pentatonic scale.
--------------------------5---8---5------------------------------------------
---------------------5---8---------8---5-------------------------------------
----------------5-7-8-------------------8-7-5--------------------------------
-----------5---7-----------------------------7---5---------------------------
------5-6-7---------------------------------------7-6-5----------------------
-5---8-------------------------------------------------8---5-----------------
Once again this is only One Position of the scale.. In my next lesson on Blues scales i will include another Position and get you started playing it. To get the most out of these lessons you must experiment on your own and get a feel for these scales. Like I said earlier.. Just improvise along to backing tracks on YouTube. Its fun and very good practice to help you find your own "Sound" or playing style! Anyways.. here is lick. This is one with a good utilization of the blues note. I throw in a chromatic passage to get that bluesy effect.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-7^7p5-5~--------------------------------------------------------------------
------7--7p5-5h7p5----------7------------------------------------------------
------------7-----7-6-5-6-5--------------------------------------------------
---------------------------8-------------------------------------------------
Alright I'm not going to go over exactly how to play it.. By now you should have developed a technique.. but if you can't play it or are confused about it.. I Will have a sound up on my profile as soon as possible Of me playing it. This is the most technically challenging lick i have so far because of the quick chromatic passages and utilization of precise vibrato and bending and all of the hammer ons and pull offs i use.. Anyways Enjoy. Hope you learned something :p Check out my other lessons if you haven't seen them. Also check out my original song "Heaven Sent" on my profile. It is a good example of what you can do with the Pentatonic, Blues, and Natural minor scale in the Key of C# Minor/E major.

11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    slowlybilly
    Question...with the chords for c maj...isn't that added flat fifth going to sound sour is I hit it with the perfect fifth? Like for harmonizing?
    Dmaj7
    The flatted fifth in this scale would be a D#, which is C's minor third. You wouldn't play a minor third in a C major scale.
    Dmaj7
    EDIT: The flatted fifth in this scale would be a D#, which is C's minor third. You wouldn't play a minor third in a C major CHORD.
    JacobCaine
    That's the beauty of the Blues Scale.. You have to try it over a C major/A minor progression.. Try using Minor7 or major7 chords instead of just the normal chords. The extra blues note gives the scale its flavor.. throwing in quick chromatic passages gives you the bluesy feel.
    JacobCaine
    Yeah the thing about the blues note. It is not supposed to fit in musically.. You wouldnt play The e minor(blues note) in an A minor progression either because a minor has no sharps or flats as well. The thing is.. You dont want to emphasize on that extra note. It is an extra note to bend UP to... from the D, Or use quick chromatic passages for the extra bluesy feel.. Sorry i forgot to mention in the lesson that it is an odd note and doesn't fit "technically" you just have have the feel for it to make it work for you.
    slowlybilly
    Yeah, no I get that with the chords. I love the seventh chords, and pentatonics for blues...especially those moveable seventh, and dominant seventh barre chords, but those extra flatted fifths always seem to throw me off...I mean I like the sound, but I can't write a rythym for it.....am I just an idiot?
    Lolcohol
    Like JacobCaine was saying, the flattened fifth is more of a passing note that's there mostly to create a more chromatic feel to the scale. You wouldn't often use that note in a chord though.
    slowlybilly
    It doesn't fit...not to my ear...I blue modal blues, and it works out great without that accidental...I would just take it out, and use the pentatonic minor, plus major...really I just use all the intervals from the diatonic modes that sound bluesy, and then my rythym guy doesn't have to worry about sour notes...like that flatted fifth...which sounds like balls to me.
    Lolcohol
    Interesting that you find it to be a "sour" note. You clearly haven't learned how to use it properly. Maybe try to listen to some songs that use it. Also, I must say that using the A minor Blues scale in the key of C is not very good advice. If you play the blues scale in the key of A, you're skipping out the dominant seventh of C (Bb) completely, as well as the dom7 of the G (F), and the chromatic part of the scale basically destroys any form of major or minor quality in the C and G chords. It definitely does sound good to use the A blues scale over a progression in C, but it creates a totally different, non-bluesy sound. I'll post an mp3 on my page to show the difference if anyone cares.
    Lolcohol
    I am such an idiot who totally misread what you wrote. I'm sorry. The way you wrote it was slightly ambiguous. Sorry.