Guitar Lesson 11 – Blues Scale In Minor And Major

Greetings, World! Finally, we are approaching to a very interesting topic in this course. I would like to discuss about the blues today. Guitar Blues scale will be the main aspect covered. This is such an easy and very interesting topic that is worth knowing more about it.

Blues is so called “must known” in World of music. It’s very essential part of major guitar World also, because it also cover guitar basics

Once, my teacher said to me that blues must be known by every guitar player. If you don’t know this simple music and scale then you can’t play the guitar. It doesn’t matter how you play classical music, rock, metal or super-fast licks. Sometimes warm, tasty and simple lick from just 3 notes can knock down your 10 year shredding practice.

There’s a lot of discussion about about this topic, so we’re going to cover only basics and the scale for improvisation.

So, let’s cover it and learn more about:

  • What is blues;
  • What is the scale;
  • Why it’s so great;
  • How to find a “major”?

Splendor of the blues

There’re a lot of famous players who play blues (mostly) and “sit on them” all their lives. For example, listen to the BB King, Eric Clapton, Bobby Rush, Steve Ray Vaugan, Sir Charles Jones and many more. There music is so simple, rhythmic, warm and just cool. Their music can be listened for ever.

Why I’m talking that way? That’s because sometimes you need to play just few licks to “catch” the audience. Few juicy and warm licks will be enough and you can keep your shredding skills for another battle. You don’t need to dive deep into it, in the theory, or history and all features. It’s enough to know some basics of the chorus and the scale.

Ok, let’s figure out the guitar blues scale in this guide.

Blues minor scales

Blues is built on the first pattern of the pentatonic minor scale basis. In other words, it’s the same pentatonics, but with added fourth sharp (#) four or flatted (b) fifth note. It’s called the “blue note”. It totally transforms minor pentatonic into something warm and bluesy. It’s very important to highlight that note in playing and show that it’s there.

(Just stop on that note for and moment in your playing and show it. Make an emphasis on it. It will transform your pentatonics into blues right away)

As an example will take Am starting on the 5th fret on the E. This is the basic A minor blues scale:

blues scale

The “blue note” here is highlighted into the blue color. It’s sharp four or flatted fifth note of the minor pentatonic scale. For now try to play for a while this scale from top to bottom. Play and stop on the “blue note”. Listen how blues sounds like. Then play pentatonics. Try to listen to the difference.

This is the basic scale in every key. You can use it from any note of the low E string. It’s the same for A, C, B or any other key.

Major blues scales

Apart from minor, major is built on the same basis like minor scale. It has the same formula which uses same fingering (if we start it from low E string). The only difference is in the “first and the fourth” fingering. If you don’t know or remember it then check out this lesson about first and forth finger principle in minor and major.

For example, if you play C major blues scale based on the formula of the image above then your first finger is on the 8th fret on low E string. Now replace your forth finger (pinky) to that note and start playing the same scale. (It looks like you’re playing A minor). Yes, it really looks like A minor, but if you start from C with your pinky and go down the same scale, then it will transform in to the C major. That’s it!

Take the same fingering and play C major blues from pinky going down like your playing Am bluesy scale:

major blues scale

That’s the whole magic of the major and minor blues scales. The same fingering, but the different first note.

Blues rhythm basics

It is based on the basic structure which is used for chorus, rhythm, 12-bar or any other playing. The structure goes like:

Tone (tonic) > Subdominant > Dominant > Tone

For example, take any rhythm in the key of C minor. Play 4 times C power chord. Count up 4 times while playing tonic. Then play 2 times F power chord and 2 times G power chord and return back to the C.

That’s the basic blues rhythm You can play millions of songs based on this structure and millions of juicy licks. Try yourself or with the mate and enjoy this simple playing.

The conclusion

Ok, today we’ve gone thru interesting topic. We’ve covered scales and the basic rhythm. That’s what I called must be known by every experienced player. If you like to go further and learn more about it, then go ahead and maybe you’ll like to share your own experience here with others.

Knowing this simple feature will open new ways in your playing. Use it often, combine pentatonics with blues, major with minor and experiment with that. It will make your sound more interesting and you’ll “catch” the audience much faster.

Here’s what we’ve learned today:

  • Blues is the same pentatonic with the added “blue” note;
  • We’ve gone thru major scale;
  • We’ve gone thru minor scale;
  • Covered the guitar blues scale;
  • Covered basic rhythm!

I hope that this simple lesson has inspired you to learn more about this wonderful blues scale. Surf Youtube and check out some lessons and licks. There’re a lot of resources.

Ok, next time we’ll cover one of the most essential musical lessons called guitar by ear that follows you everytime you play.

Guitar Lesson 11 – Blues Scale In Minor And Major
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