The Blues Scale

The blues scale is a slightly different scale from the other 4 essential guitar scales. The blues scale is a 6 note scale that comes from the minor pentatonic scale.The reason the blues scale is different from other scales is that the note that’s added to the minor pentatonic scale to create the blues scale does not naturally occur in the key it’s being played in. This means that you’ll want to use it sparingly and tastefully in your lead guitar playing.

The Blue Note (Flat 5th)

The “Blue Note” is the only difference between a minor pentatonic scale and the blues scale. The blue note is also known as a flat 5th.

To find the flat 5th, we have to start with our standard minor scale. In this case, we’ll be looking at an A minor scale. Locate the 5th scale degree of the A minor scale. The 5th scale degree of an A minor scale is an E. We take that note and lower it by a half-step, making it our flat 5th.

The Blue Note

How The Blues Scale Is Made

To make a blues scale, we start with a minor pentatonic scale. We’re going to be making an A minor blues scale, so we’ll start with the notes from an A minor pentatonic scale. Then we’ll add the blue note that we found from the A minor scale. Adding that note turns our A minor pentatonic scale into an A minor blues scale.

Notes Of The Blues Scale

The A Minor Pentatonic & A Minor Blues Scales

You can see here what adding the blue note to the minor pentatonic shape looks like. Listen to the differences between the two scale shapes. An important thing to note is that the blue note doesn’t naturally occur in the key the scale is in. So you’ll want to use that note tastefully when improvising or writing licks. It sounds great in Blues, Rock, and Jazz music.

A Minor Pentatonic & A Minor Blues Scales

A Minor Blues Scale Horizontal View

Here’s another view of the A minor blues scale.

A Minor Blues Scale

Using The Blues Scale Shape In Other Keys

Just like the other 4 scale shapes we looked at, you can move this entire shape to other keys. Just move the shape so that the root notes line up with the root note of the key you want to play in. If you wanted to play a C minor blues scale, you would move the entire shape up 3 frets.

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