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The Blues Scale

By Jeff Vivrette

We learned in a previous article that the “Minor Pentatonic” scale is a 5 note scale derived from the minor scale. You may recall that the formula for the “Minor Pentatonic” scale is: Minor scale minus the 2nd & 6th.

For example, when we analyze the “A Minor” scale we get this: A- B- C- D-E- F- G
1- 2- b3- 4- 5- b6- 7

Using our formula we know we must subtract the 2nd & 6th from the scale. When we do this we get this: A-C- D-E-G

This scale can be used for blues, rock, metal, funk, country… You name it! It’s all in how you apply it.

Well, now we’re going to take the “Minor Pentatonic Scale” and throw a twist into it and make it a power-house for you to use when soloing!

The “Blues Scale” is a minor pentatonic scale with an added “b5” (flat 5) pitch. It looks like this:

A- C – D- Eb- E- G
1- b3- 4- b5- 5- 7

If we analyze it against the “A Minor Pentatonic” scale we see that we are adding an “Eb” to the scale. Like this:

A Minor Pentatonic
A-C- D-E-G


A Blues
A-C- D-Eb-E-G


Now, this can be a very good scale to use when you are playing the blues. Hence, the name “Blues Scale”.

However, we aren’t really dealing with the blues right now are we?

The good news is the “Blues Scale” can be a very powerful scale to use when you want to solo and create an exotic or kind of dark, moaning effect in you solo. The key to doing that is to emphasize the “b5” and not just use it as a passing tone. No, I’m talking about landing square on that baby and giving it a nice, wide vibrato!

Here’s what I want you to do now. Record yourself playing an “A power chord” or an “Am chord” and solo over it using the blues scale. Be sure to emphasize the “Eb”. Even end your phrases on the “Eb” before finally resolving in your final phrase on “A”.

Or, if you’re feeling really bold, end your solo on the “Eb” with a nice wide, slow vibrato!

Give a shot and let me know what you think!

If you would like more help with this and any other guitar playing issue that is keeping you from reaching your full potential, then you should consider lessons at Vivrette Guitar Academy.

Until next time, have fun and don’t let anything keep your from your dreams.