Using the Blues Scale for Guitar

When playing a blues solo, the blues scale is treated interchangeably with the minor penta-tonic scale. The scales are identical except for the addition of one note, the ‘b5’ in the blues scale.

The minor pentatonic scale has the formula

1 b3 4 5 b7

And the blues scale has the formula

1 b3 4 b5 5 b7

The addition of this one note makes quite a marked difference to the sound of our solos.

Here are the fretboard diagrams of both scales:

Take this line for example: A great way to hear how this one extra note can make a huge difference to your playing is to begin by altering some minor pentatonic licks that you al-ready know.

Blues Scale Licks for Guitar

Example 6i:

By adding in the ‘blues note’ we can give a line a very different sound:

Example 6j:

It is also very common to bend from the 4th (D) to the b5th (Eb) like this:

Example 6k:

The b5 is also useful when played in the lower octave:

Example 6l:

Example 6m:

Try making up your own licks. Remember, once you have the scale memorised, always think rhythm and melody when you solo!

Have fun!

This lesson is an extract from The Complete Guide to Blues Guitar Book Three: Beyond Pentatonics.

There is no better, more detailed book to teach you the secrets of blues guitar solo-ing.