Blues Scale Guitar Positions

blues scale guitar positionsThe Blues Scale is, basically, the Minor Pentatonic Scale with an extra note. It is a very tasty scale choice for this reason but can sound very clichéd in the wrong hands. This, as is always the case, is due to the scale sounding so good and there being less difficulty in the ‘note choice’ category – even a beginner having a first go at improvising with this scale will have some joy.

Despite it being called the Blues Scale there are limitless applications for it and it needn’t be restricted to just blues music, the name has just come about due to blues influenced rock & pop players bringing it into their music. It can be heard in many styles and the snobbish attitude that this scale is somehow ‘passe’ is due, in my opinion, to a lack of creativity.

Looking at the nuts & bolts of the scale, we can break down a little of the magic to help understand how to apply it to improvisation and song writing. Of course note choice is still important (despite it being harder to make this scale sound bad than good!) as no scale fits perfectly over any backing track, no matter how well composed.

Intervallically, the scale sounds like this – Root Note, Minor 3rd, Perfect 4th, 5th, Perfect 5th & Minor 7th. Only one note is different from the Minor Pentatonic Scale, which is an unusual one – the 5th.  This is the ‘signature’ note of the Blues Scale and must be treated carefully – holding this note for any period can, sometimes, sound terrible but it is an ear catching, exotic passing note. Feel free to post a response on my YouTube channel somewhere and prove me wrong though! Applied to a Root Note of E (the subject of the first transcription below) gives us the notes – E, G, A, B,B & D. The 2nd transcription is the Blues Scale in A, the notes being – A, C, D, E, E, G.

Blues Scale Guitar Positions

E Blues Scale transcription –

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A Blues Scale transcription –

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If you like this scale, keep an eye out for future Blues Scale improvisation posts. Have a listen to a recent video I posted below. You can hear the Blues Scale in G at 0:37.

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