Blues Scale Guitar TAB, Patterns & Notation: How To Play Blues Scales On Your Guitar

On this page you’ll find blues scale guitar TAB, patterns and notation that will allow you to play blues scales all over the guitar neck. Read on for a complete blues scale guitar lesson…

What you’ll learn

  • The basic blues scale guitar pattern.
  • Four more blues scale fretboard patterns.
  • Why learning more than one scale pattern is beneficial.
  • How the blues scale is constructed.
  • When to use the blues scale.

Let’s get started…

If you have any questions about anything covered on this page then feel free to ask them in the comments section below; we’ll be happy to help!


Page Index

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.


About The Blues Scale

After the pentatonic minor scale and major scale, the blues scale is probably the most widely-used scale in guitar improvisation. Despite its name, the blues scale is not only used in blues music; it’s also regularly used in rock, metal, jazz, and many other musical styles.

As we’ll find in the notes in a blues scale section of this page, the blues scale is simply an embellishment of the standard pentatonic minor scale; an additional note is all that separates the blues scale from the pentatonic minor scale.


Basic Blues Guitar Pattern

If you need to know how to read guitar scale patterns, then you’ll find a complete lesson on this page: Guitar Scale Patterns

Get to know the sound of the blues scale by playing the pattern below. Further down the page you’ll find four additional blues scale patterns plus TABs.

In the fretboard patterns on this page, the tonic note of the scale (i.e. the ‘C’s in a C blues scale, or the ‘G’s in a G blues scale) are shown in green.

Blues scale pattern 1

Use the pattern shown above to play a C blues scale by positioning your hand at the 8th fret. In this position the green notes on the diagram correspond to C notes on the fretboard – as shown in the TAB below:

2-Octave C Blues Scale TAB (Up & Down)

C Blues Scale TAB 2 Octave

After playing the TAB you may have noticed that the scale pattern includes an additional note that extends the scale beyond the second octave.

Scale diagrams often include notes that are either above or below the tonic notes in this way. This is because you’ll usually be using the scale while improvising, so knowing which extra notes are available in that fretboard position can be useful.

If you just want to play the scale then start and stop on the green tonic notes (as shown in the TAB).

2-Octave G Blues Scale TAB (Up & Down)

Use the same pattern at the 3rd fret to play a G blues scale, as shown in the TAB below:

G Blues Scale TAB 2 Octave


All Blues Scale Patterns

The diagram below shows the first blues scale pattern together with four more patterns. We’ll take a closer look at each of the new patterns below.

Blues Scale Guitar Patterns

The basic blues scale pattern (pattern 1) can be extended up and down the guitar fretboard using the additional scale patterns. You’ll see how to join the patterns up in order to create longer lines further down the page.

A tab example has been provided for each of the new patterns. The tab shows how the pattern can be used to play either a 1 octave or a 2 octave C blues scale. (Patterns 1 & 5 span 2 octaves, the others a single octave.)

Remember that the scale patterns may contain notes that extend the scale, either upwards or downwards. If you just want to play a single octave, play from a green note to the next green note, as shown in the tabs below.

Blues Scale Pattern 2

Blues Scale Pattern 2

Play this pattern starting at the 10th fret of the 4th (D) string for a 1-octave C blues scale, as shown in the TAB below:

C Blues Scale TAB 1 Octave Shape 2


Blues Scale Pattern 3

Blues Scale Pattern 3

The TAB below shows how pattern 3 can be used to play a 1-octave C blues scale either in open position (in which case one of the black circles on the diagram would represent the open G string), or starting in 13th position (i.e. with your index finger ready to play at the 13th fret).

The TAB below shows this pattern being used to play a 1-octave C blues scale in open position:

C Blues Scale Shape 3


Blues Scale Pattern 4

Blues Scale Pattern 4

Play this pattern at the 3rd fret for a C blues scale, as shown in the TAB below:

C Blues Scale Shape 4


Blues Scale Pattern 5

Blues Scale Pattern 5

Playing this pattern in 5th position will result in a C blues scale, as shown in the TAB below:

C Blues Scale Guitar TAB Shape 5 2 Octave

Guitar Scales Chart
Learn more scales with the Guitar Command Scales Chart Book – available for download now.

Why learn more than one pattern for each scale?

If you’re serious about your lead guitar playing, then you should try to learn blues scales in more than one position.

This means that there will always be a blues scale ‘under your fingers’ wherever you are on the fretboard… whatever key you’re playing in!

You’ll also be able to link the patterns together, giving you the option of playing lines that go beyond a single fretboard position (see the next section).

For example, if you only knew the basic blues scale pattern (pattern 1) and were improvising over a chord progression in C, then you’d be limited to playing in 8th position (i.e. with your index finger positioned over the 8th fret.)

If you also knew blues scale pattern no. 3, then you could also improvise using a C blues scale in open position, or in 12th / 13th position (the pattern requires changing position). This would give you access to more notes.

Below you’ll find out how to link multiple patterns together to create longer lines…


Joining Multiple Scale Patterns

When playing with scales, you can extend your lines by linking together adjacent scale patterns. Below you’ll find a TAB example of this. Once you’ve seen how it works, try creating your own multi-position blues licks.

Multi-Pattern Example

Guitar Blues Scale Patterns Joined

Experiment linking each of the five patterns on this page with its neighboring patterns to create your own extended lines.


Notes In The Blues Scale

The blues scale comprises the following notes / intervals:

  • Tonic note
  • Minor 3rd
  • Perfect 4th
  • Diminished 5th (also known as the ‘flattened 5th’, ‘flat five’ or ‘blues note’)
  • Perfect 5th
  • Minor 7th

Its scale spelling is: 1, b2, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7

Therefore, the notes in a C blues scale are:

  • Tonic note = C
  • Minor 3rd = E flat
  • Perfect 4th = F
  • Diminished 5th = G flat
  • Perfect 5th = G
  • Minor 7th = B flat

… and the notes in G blues scale are:

  • Tonic note = G
  • Minor 3rd = B flat
  • Perfect 4th = C
  • Diminished 5th = D flat
  • Perfect 5th = D
  • Minor 7th = F

How To Use Blues Scales

The blues scale contains a minor 3rd, giving it a minor tonality. This means that it can be used to improvise over minor chord sequences. For example, the A blues scale could be used to improvise over the following chord progression:

||: Am7 / / / | D9 / / / | Am7 / / / | D9 / E9 / :||

However, the blues scale is unusual because it also sounds good over blues chord progressions in major keys. For example, you could use a G blues scale to improvise over the following 12 bar blues in G:

||: G7 / / / | C7 / / / | G7 / / / | G7 / / /

| C7 / / / | C7 / / / | G7 / / / | G7 / / /

D7 / / / | C7 / / / | G7 / / / | D7 / / / :||

Blues Scale Vs Pentatonic Minor Scale

The blues scale differs from the pentatonic minor scale only by the addition of a single note: the diminished 5th (also known as the ‘flattened 5th’, ‘flat five’ or ‘blues note’).

It is this ‘blues’ note that gives the scale its unique ‘bluesy’ tone.

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, emphasizing their bluesy sound.

In the diagram below, all of the blues notes in each of the 5 blues scale patterns are represented by blue circles:

Blues Scales Guitar Diagrams With Blues Notes Marked


Discover More Guitar Scales At Guitar Command

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!

Visit the following pages on Guitar Command to find out more about guitar scales and how to use them in your own playing:

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.

To see how a master uses blues scales, check out B. B. King!

blues backing tracks
Blues Backing Tracks by Guitar Command

5 thoughts on “Blues Scale Guitar TAB, Patterns & Notation: How To Play Blues Scales On Your Guitar”

  1. Thanks for this, I’ve always wanted to play blues. I got the chance now. Any other website you recommend.

    Keep it real
    Mas

    Reply

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