By learning the blues scale guitar players have a instant means of playing great-sounding licks and riffs.
Blues scales are very widely used in guitar improvisation. Despite the name, blues scales are not only used by blues guitarists – rock and jazz guitarists regularly use them too.
Blues Scale Guitar Diagrams
In the following blues scale guitar fretboard diagrams, the root note of the scale is shown in green.
(Therefore, to play a G blues scale, you should position your fretting hand so that the green notes are over G notes on the guitar fretboard.)
If you need to know how to read these diagrams, read the notes further down the page.
Blues Scale Guitar Tab
The above tab shows Scale Shape 1 being used to play a C Blues Scale at the 8th fret.
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Why Learn More Than One Scale Shape?
If you’re serious about playing lead guitar, you should try to learn blues scales in more than one position.
This means that there will be a blues scale at your fingertips wherever you are on the fretboard … whatever key you’re playing in!
You’ll also be able to link the diagrams together, giving you the option of playing lines that go beyond a single fretboard position.
Why not try to create some long, multi-octave, lines right now, using the scale shapes shown in the diagrams above?
Blues Scale Guitar Diagrams With Blues Notes Marked
The ‘blues notes’ are the notes that give the blues scale its special character. They also distinguish a blues scale from a regular minor pentatonic scale.
Below are the same blues scale guitar diagrams, but with the ‘blues notes’ (the flattened 5th notes) shown with a blue circle.
How To Read ‘Moveable’ Blues Scale Fretboard Diagrams
The diagrams on this page represent a guitar fretboard. The vertical lines are the strings, and the horizontal lines are the frets.
These circles show where you should put your fingers in order to play a blues scale.
The diagrams show ‘movable’ shapes. This means that they can be used to play blues scales starting with any note.
For example, in order to play an A blues scale, you should position your hand so that the green root notes of the diagram are positioned over A notes on the guitar fretboard.
(E.g. play Shape 1 at the 5th fret)
If you wanted to play a C blues scale, you could play Shape 4 at the 3rd fret.
Note that the diagrams show all of the notes of a scale available at a particular fretboard position. This is useful for improvisors who may not always start on the root note of a scale. If you wish to practice playing scales up and down, start with the root notes and ignore the notes above and below the octaves you want to play.
Blues Scale Guitar Theory
Blues scales are basically the same as pentatonic minor scales but an additional note: the ‘blues note’, ‘flat five’, or – technically – the flattened fifth note of the scale.
For example, adding an Eb note to a standard 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 remember where the blues notes are in each of the 5 shapes. Then, when improvising, you can slide to or from them, string bend into them, play them subtly or stress them, emphasising their bluesy sound.
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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!
Bues Scale Guitar Conclusion
We hope that you have enjoyed learning about the blues scale. It’s one of the main scales used in lead guitar solos; in fact, it’s the only scales that some guitarists know!
The fretboard diagrams show you how to play the scales all over the guitar neck, in any key. The more shapes you learn, the more fluent your playing will become. Why not use our backing tracks to learn and master this scale? You can hear them on this page: Blues Backing Tracks.
Learn more useful guitar scales here: Guitar Command Main Guitar Scales Page.