Free Online Guitar Lessons
Blues Guitar Scale
The Blues Scale
There are a couple of fundamental scales you need to know and play for the Blues genre. We're looking at the two most important ones: The Minor Pentatonic (Covered in the previous lesson), and the Blues scale. We're also learning these scales in five different positions on the fretboard.
The Blues scale closely resembles the Minor Pentatonic scale, the only difference being an added note called the blue note. In the diagram below I've highlighted the Blue notes by making them a Blue colour.
Here's a scale chart of the Blues scale:
Scales form the foundation of any type of soloing and jamming within every genre. Blues is no exception and the Blues Guitar Scale is a good one.
Proceed from Blues Guitar Scale to the next lesson - Bending the Blues
Like the Minor Pentatonic, the Blues guitar scale also has a total of five different positions on the neck. By now you might be thinking there's no way you'll ever memorize all these different notes of the fretboard. Well, let me remind you that the Blue and Minor Pentatonic scales are almost 100% similar, with the latter only having one extra note. So there's not a lot extra to remember.
Besides, you shouldn't look at it as memorization in the sense of sitting down, studying the notes and drilling it into your head (you can do that if you want!), but the easiest way to memorize these notes, is to play them again and again and again. Before you know it, the different positions of these scales will have branded themselves into the back of your head, without you really 'studying' them!
Here they are the five different positions of the Blues Guitar scale (in the key of G), on the Guitar Fretboard:
Time to Practice: Try to play all the different positions of this scale. We're again playing all five positions of the scale, there are a lot of notes and they're close together on the fretboard. Repeat this exercise of playing all five positions until you start to rely less and less on the scale diagram to know where the notes are.
What do I need these scales for?
Let's ask a different question first. What is a solo? Is a solo a collection of random notes that somehow fit within a piece of music? How is it that experienced guitarists come up with great sounding solos on the spot, without prior practice?
Scales are a big part of the answers to these questions. A specific scale within a key shows you which notes are appropriate to play when soloing within that key. Of course soloing is never about stringing together random notes, it's about stringing together SPECIFIC notes. Notes that'll FIT!
These scales will therefore provide the framework within which you will build your solos and teach you which notes you can use when playing licks. When you know the shapes and notes of the different scales, you automatically know which notes on the fretboard will work when soloing.
The Blues licks section of this site focuses exclusively on teaching you licks built around these scales. You will learn how to improvise with them in order to start developing your own Blues licks and solos.
If you feel comfortable with these two scales (Blues & Minor Pentatonic) and can play them in all five positions on the fretboard without relying on charts too much, you're ready to move on.
Next we'll sharpen up an old guitar technique that plays a very important role in Blues music - String Bending.