You are currently viewing How to Master Blues Guitar Scales Without Being Bored to Death

Last Updated on February 26, 2024 by Teemu Suomala

Master blues guitar scales and fret like a legend. No fluff, just real talk, and soulful playing. Check this 1min 52s introduction that reveals the secret behind this competitive advantage. You are going to like it:

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).

If you don’t have a guitar…check these articles for some blues-machines:

Best electric guitars for blues

Best acoustic guitars for blues

But remember. Blues is not about fancy guitars. It’s about emotion and ability to devlier those through music so that others feel those emotions as well.

Beyond Pentatonics

So, you’ve got the pentatonic scales nailed down, and you’re feeling pretty good strumming along to your favorite blues tracks. But…

There’s a whole world beyond those trusty five notes. Believe it or not, there are 12 other blues guitar scales just itching to add some spice to your minor pentatonic routines. These scales are like the secret sauce, the extra cheese on your pizza, the sprinkle of magic that transforms your solos from “meh” to “more, please!”

Dive into these scales and watch your fingers breakdancing across the fretboard… But don’t just take my word for it—grab your guitar and test out these new sounds. If you’re feeling lost, check out our blues guitar lessons article for a step-by-step guide that will have you jamming in no time.

The “secret”.

Minor vs. Major Blues Scales

Now, the age-old question: to play it cool with the minor blues scale or to brighten up with the major blues scale? Here’s the scoop—both scales have their place, and knowing when to use each is like choosing the right tool for the job.

The minor blues scale, your trusty sidekick, is perfect for adding some grit to your sound.

Here’s a tab for the A Minor Blues Scale:

e|—————————————5-8-
B|———————————5-8—–
G|———————–5-7-8———–
D|—————–5-7—————–
A|——–5-6-7————————-
E|-5-8—————————–

You can use this bad boy over the 1, 4, and 5 chords, creating a sense of unity throughout your jam session. Also, remember to experiment with it. A lot.

ChordScale to Use
1 Chord A7Minor Blues Scale
4 Chord D7Minor Blues Scale
5 Chord E7Minor Blues Scale

And to make absolutely sure you get this, here’s the best video about Minor Blues Scale:

On the flip side, the major blues scale is like your sunny day go-to. It’s all about bringing a touch of brightness and cheerfulness to the mix. This one also plays nice with the 1, 4, and 5 chords, giving you a different flavor to savor (Fretjam).

Here’s a tab for the Pattern 1 Major Blues Scale in The Key of G:

e|——————————————–3-5-6–
B|————————————–3-5————–
G|————————–2-3-4—————-
D|——————–2-5———————
A|————2-5—————————
E|-3-5-6———————————-

ChordScale to Use
1 Chord A7Major Blues Scale
4 Chord D7Major Blues Scale
5 Chord E7Major Blues Scale

Again, just to make sure, Major Blues Scale in Video format:

Whether you’re in the mood for the emotional depth of the minor scale or the uplifting vibes of the major scale, mastering these variations will make you the life of the blues party. And who knows? You might even impress your wife and dog with your newfound guitar prowess.

Just remember, as you dive into the world of blues guitar scales, always keep it fresh, fun, and full of feeling. And remember to experiment a lot.

Blue thing hidden in The Anatomy of a Blues Scale

Alright, strap in and let’s dissect this musical creature known as the blues scale. It’s your trusty six-string scalpel, and with it, you’re about to carve out some soul-stirring blues.

The Infamous Blue Note

Now it’s time to sprinkle a little magic dust on those important but familiar patterns.

Enter the infamous “blue note,” also known as the flat fifth. This note is the heart of the blues scale and the culprit behind those deliciously dissonant sounds that scream, “I’ve got the blues!”

Here’s a quick breakdown of the blues scale in A:

NoteACDD# (blue note)EG

This little rascal of a note doesn’t play by the rules, and that’s precisely why we love it. It creates a tension that begs for resolution, and when you give it to your audience, they’ll weep tears of joy—or at least nod appreciatively while sipping their craft beer.

Crafting Tension and Release

As you strum blues scale up and down, you’re playing a game of tension and release. It’s like a dramatic movie scene where the hero is hanging off a cliff by their fingertips—your listeners are on the edge of their seats, waiting for that satisfying pull back to safety (use this in your playing, it makes it a lot more interesting).

An example of this blues scale dance of push and pull. You can take the first moves of this dance on the fretboard by weaving in that b5th blue note into the minor pentatonic scale, creating moments of suspense before landing on a sweet, soulful resolution.

For example, if you start the position 3 blues minor scale on a B note on the 7th fret of the low E string as you should, the blue note, b5th (F (♭5)) would be found on the 8th fret of the A string. Bend that bad boy.

When you mix the blues scale with its cousins, the minor and major pentatonic scales, you’re cooking up a richer, more complex sound (Pickup Music). It’s like adding a secret ingredient to your grandma’s stew recipe because let’s face it, it started to taste a bit boring—this just takes it to a whole new level.

So as you practice your blues guitar licks, remember to play with that tension. Tease your listeners. Make them crave the resolution, then deliver it with feeling. That’s the essence of the blues—and it’s what’ll make your dog look up from his nap and your wife say, “Honey, when did you get so good?”

Use the blues guitar chords to lay the foundation and let your newfound blue note secret sauce to level-up your improvisation game. Welcome to the blues club—you’re gonna like it here.

Applying Blues Scales

Alright, hotshot. We’ve laid the foundation. Let’s dive into making those scales work for you, no matter what the situation.

Soloing Over Different Chords

When you’re soloing over blues guitar chords, think of it like you’re the boss of a barbecue joint — you get to decide what flavor of sauce to slather on those ribs. For the 1 chord, you can lay down some savory minor key blues scales.

And guess what? Those same scales can strut their stuff over the 4 and 5 chords too.

Want to mix it up? Throw in the major key blues scales for a tangy twist, because they’re just as comfortable over those chords as your favorite pair of sweatpants is on you.

Here’s a little cheat sheet for your fridge door:

ChordScale Options
1 ChordMinor Blues, Major Blues
4 ChordMinor Blues, Major Blues
5 ChordMinor Blues, Major Blues

Mixing Scales for Richer Sounds

Now, let’s get cooking with some real gourmet stuff. Mixing scales, like the minor pentatonic and major pentatonic with the blues scale, is like tossing bacon on your burger — it just makes everything better.

So, as you go down the fretboard, sprinkle in notes from these different scales to add some depth to your solos. It’s like having a secret weapon and leaving others wondering…”how this guy do this”. Only we will know.

Just remember, the blues scale isn’t just for the blues. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of the guitar world, handy in rock, jazz, funk, and even if you’re feeling adventurous, polka. Its versatility comes from those six notes — the root, flat third, fourth, flat fifth (the infamous blue note), fifth, and flat seventh

So, there you have it, champ. Grab your blues guitar tab and start experimenting. Remember, the blues scale can be your best friend, whether you’re jamming in the garage or heading to busk at the local park. No scams, no gimmicks, just you and the sweet, sweet sound of blues. And if you ever find yourself in a rut, leave a comment here and let’s solve your problems together.

But before you go, some extra tips to save you some precious time (we like to overdeliver).

Practical Tips for Blues Mastery

Improvising is like the bread and butter of any self-respecting blues guitarist. And since you’re not one to fall for those “learn guitar overnight” scams, you know that mastering the blues is all about smart practice and effort. So let’s dive into some practical tips to help you dominate blues guitar scales.

Let’s face it, the fretboard can be as confusing as your mother-in-law’s mood swings. But fear not, because once you get the hang of it, you’ll be sliding up and down those frets like you own them.

You have already mastered the minor and major blues scales (Happy Bluesman). That’s an amazing start.

Now, remember, the blues scale is a six-note wonder that can turn a bland noodle into a spicy & tasty lick. Get to know each position of the blues scale, and practice transitioning between them smoothly. This will help you break out of the box (literally) and make the whole neck your playground.

And the key to this is experimenting. Be a crazy scientist who tests weird stuff behind locked doors. Challenge norms. Find your own style and impress others (or at least your dog).

Here’s a quick reference table to keep in mind:

Blues ScaleNotesPosition (Fret)
Minor BluesRoot, ♭3rd, 4th, ♭5th, 5th, ♭7thVaries by Key
Major BluesRoot, 2nd, ♭3rd, 3rd, 5th, 6thVaries by Key

Now, it’s not just about playing the right notes; it’s about playing them with feeling. Think of each note as a word in your story – you want to tell it with emotion, not just blurt it out. Experiment with bends, vibratos, and slides to add character to your playing.

Use Backing Tracks

First off, let’s talk about the benefits of jamming with backing tracks. These nifty little gems are like having your own personal blues band, minus the arguments about who gets the last beer. Backing tracks are a killer way to get your timing down, practice your phrasing, and really sink your teeth into those scales.

Imagine this: it’s just you and your guitar, and a band that never gets tired. You can noodle around, experiment with your licks, and if you mess up? The band keeps playing, just for you. Plus, it’s a great way to prepare for live playing without the stage fright.

Backing tracks are one of the numero uno ways to build confidence.

Here’s a tip – switch up the keys of the backing tracks. If you’re always jamming in E, throw in an A or a G for a change. It’ll keep your brain on its toes and your fingers on a swivel. You can find a variety of keys and styles right here.

Learning from the Legends

You’ve spent countless hours noodling on your guitar, your fingers are callused, and your dog has perfected his howl to match your bends. Now it’s time to learn from the giants whose shoulders you’re trying to stand on.

Reverse Engineering Iconic Solos

Imagine taking apart a vintage car to see how it ticks—only, with less grease and more groove. Reverse engineering solos by blues legends isn’t just about learning the notes; it’s about understanding the soul behind them. BluesGuitarMaster suggests dissecting each solo into individual phrases, peering into the blues scale shapes they’re built from, and then using those licks as a launchpad for your own improv.

Start with a classic solo you can’t get enough of—could be Clapton, King, or Vaughan—and work it out note-by-note. Don’t just memorize it; analyze it. What scale is it based on? How does it interact with the underlying blues guitar chords? Once you’ve got that down, you’re ready to sprinkle a bit of that magic into your own solos.

Signature Licks and Techniques

Every blues legend has a couple of tricks up their sleeve that make their playing instantly recognizable. Whether it’s B.B. King’s vibrato or Buddy Guy’s lightning-fast runs, these are the gold nuggets you want to mine for.

Start by learning a lick or two from your favorite blues player. Get it under your fingers, and then experiment with it over different backing tracks. That’s the perfect way to test out those new licks. And don’t forget, whether you’re wielding an electric axe or prefer the woody tones of an acoustic blues guitar, these licks can be adapted to fit your style.

Now, don’t go thinking you can become a blues titan just by copying licks. The goal isn’t to become a carbon copy of the greats, but to understand their approach so you can tell your own story with blues guitar. Remember, whether you’re a beginner blues guitarist or a seasoned blues-machine, the key to mastery is making each note count, just like every rep at the gym.

So, grab your guitar, tune up, and get ready to add some legendary licks to your arsenal. Who knows? With enough practice, maybe it’ll be your solos future generations are trying to reverse engineer.

Experimenting in Various Keys

Now, let’s talk keys. You know, those pesky things that force you to move your fingers to different spots on the neck? Well, it turns out that experimenting in various keys is crucial for becoming the guitar hero you dream to be during your 9-to-5. This helps you break out of familiar patterns and find new melodic lines.

By stepping out of your comfort zone and sliding into different keys, you’re expanding your musical vocabulary faster than you can say “pentatonic”.

Here’s a quick table to inspire you to mix things up:

KeyMoodGreat for
ABold and confidentFlexing those string-bending skills
BGritty and rawGetting down and dirty with the blues
CBright and happyThose sunny afternoon jam sessions
DSmooth and soulfulLate-night, introspective noodling
EClassic and powerfulChanneling your inner blues legend

Conclusion

Now. It’s time to let you go. But please, play the blues. Otherwise, the time we just spent together (I for sure had fun) has been pretty much worthless for you.

Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…). Expertise: guitar learning techniques, electric guitars, and guitar amplifiers. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or just email me.
5 2 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
6 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom

Great article

Jody

As a new guitarist, your article made it all make sense. The way you described the Blues Music Theory was brilliant. I look forward to reading more articles. Thank you.

Pranshu Nigam

A great no BS guide to learning basic blues scales. Sharing this with everyone I know who wants to get into blues.