One Octave Blues Scales

Another common scale used in improvising or creating a riff within the blues genre is the blues scale. Taken from the pentatonic minor scale, it features one extra note; the b5th. This note is the only difference but by passing over it when playing the scale it creates a distinctly bluesy sound.

Once again we have 3 different positions of the same scale. The blues scale contains the six notes shown below:


In different neck positions:

Try and practice these alongside the major and minor pentatonic scales. You have the major (happy), minor (sad), and the blues scale (bluesy). Each scale has its own distinct sound just due to changing a few notes each time. Try and get to know the sound of each scale by comparing them to others.

You should be able to start drawing out in your mind what situations you’d use each scale in. Use the pentatonic major scales over a major chord progression; the pentatonic minor scales over a minor chord progression; and you’d use the blues scale over a progression containing 7th chords (blues chords).

Next lesson we will take a closer look at the 7th chords you’d use the blues scale with. Just like the scales, turning chords into a bluesy chord is simply a matter of adding one note so don’t panic about complicated looking chords!