Blues scales are very widely used in guitar improvisation. By learning the blues scale guitar players have a instant means of playing effective licks and riffs. Despite the name, blues scales are not just used by blues guitarists – most rock and jazz guitarists regularly use them too. In the blues scale guitar diagrams below, the root note of the scale is marked with a white ‘R’.
Blues Scale Guitar Diagrams
Blues Scale Guitar Diagrams With Blues Notes Marked
Below are the same blues scale guitar diagrams, but with the blues notes (the flattened 5th notes) marked with a white circle.
Blues Scale Guitar Theory
Blues scales are basically the same as pentatonic minor scales but an additional note: the flat five. For example, adding an Eb to an A pentatonic minor scale will change it into an A blues scale.
A Pentatonic Minor Notes: A, C, D, E, G
A Blues Scale Notes: A, C, D, Eb, E, G
Try and memorise where the blues notes are in each shape. When improvising, you can slide up or down into or from them, string bend into them, play them subtly or stress the blues notes, emphasising their bluesy sound.
Blues Scale Spelling: 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7
For a guitar lesson on using blues scales, with an example guitar solo and a backing track for you to play your own blues solo over, see this page: How To Use Blues Scales. You can practice improvising using blues scales with our blues guitar backing tracks.
To see how a master uses blues scales, check out B. B. King!