Guitar Lessons • The Blues Scale • Theory, Scale Shapes and Fingering, Tab, Chords, Video Lessons

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Definition

The Blues scale adds a flat fifth to the Pentatonic scale. In the key of E minor, this note is a B flat. Rarely used as a note to resolve a phrase (ending a lick on the flat fifth results in a very dissonant sound), it's main use is that of a passing tone (moving into either the fifth: one fret higher, or the fourth: one fret lower). The Blues scale tends to have a meaner, darker sound than the Pentatonic. This scale is prevalent in all forms of music, not just blues, despite it's name.

Dust Bowl
Dust Bowl

2011 release from the American Blues guitarist and singer/songwriter, winner of Billboard Magazine's #1 Blues Artist Of 2010 award. Dust Bowl combines the gritty, blues-based tones of Bonamassa's first albums with the fluid, genre-defying sounds he's mastered in the years since, plus a dose of Nashville in duets with legends John Hiatt and Vince Gill. Dust Bowl, producer Kevin Shirley explains, is very firmly rooted in the Blues, but definitely explores the outer reaches of the genre and showcases Joe's amazing virtuosity as he digs deep into his psyche in some lengthy and blistering guitar solos.

 
Joe Bonamassa Live From The Royal Albert Hall [2 CD]
Joe Bonamassa Live From The Royal Albert Hall [2 CD]

I just recently stumbled onto Joe Bonamassa's music care of a short Palladia TV segment showing some of the video from this concert. I'd heard of him before but never really followed his work. Well...I'm glad to call myself a new fan. This guy is simply an incredible guitar player and overall musician. Wonderful fret work, phrasing, and tone...great voice...flawless performance...amazing!

 

Box Pattern #1

Just like the Pentatonic scale, the Blues scale Box Pattern #1 is the most played. Easy to execute and visualize, this position is the basis of many staple blues riffs and licks. Tunes that come to mind are: Rock And Roll Hoochie Coo (Rick Derringer and Johnny Winter), Walk This Way (Aerosmith), Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple), and Enter Sandman (Metallica). In fact, Metallica have utilized this scale throughout their career, taking it away from the blues genre and moving it into metal. Scale spelling in E minor Box Pattern #1 is: E, G, A, B flat, B, D, E, G, A, B flat, B, D, E, G.

Box Pattern #2

This position is harder to execute, due to the slight fret hand shift. I use the second finger to play the B flat and the B on the third string, in order to setup the second string with the first, third, and fourth finger. Also try fingering pattern: 2, 4, 1, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 2, 3, 2, 4, 2, 4, 4 (bottom to top, sixth string to first string). Scale spelling in E minor Box Pattern #2 is: G, A, B flat, B, D, E, G, A, B flat, B, D, E, G, A, B flat. Since this scale ends on the flat fifth, it is very easy to hear the dissonant sound.

Box Pattern #3

This is a little bit easier to execute than Box Pattern #2. The movement on the bottom three strings (E, A, and D), is very useful and easy to visualize. The same is true for the top two strings (B and E). Many solos contain the pattern on the top two strings, usually as a triplet sequence on the high E. Scale spelling in E minor Box Pattern #3 is: A, B flat, B, D, E, G, A, B flat, B, D, E, G, A, B flat, B.

Box Pattern #4

Pattern #4 in both the Blues scale and the Pentatonic, seem to be the hardest to remember. Students tend to have a hard time with this one. As in Pattern #2, it involves a slight shift with the fret hand. Also try fingering pattern: 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 4, 1, 4. Scale spelling in E minor Box Pattern #4 is: B, D, E, G, A, B flat, B, D, E, G, A, B flat, B, D.

Box Pattern #5

Pattern #5 also involves a fret hand shift to move back to the B on the fourth string. The five note pattern on the top two strings (B and E), is very common. Scale spelling in E minor Box Pattern #5 is: D, E, G, A, B flat, B, D, E, G, A, B flat, B, D, E. As in the Pentatonic, this pattern ends on the root E.

Sloe Gin
Sloe Gin

Voted by Guitar Player readers as 2007's Best Blues Guitarist, blues-rock guitar virtuoso, vocalist, and songwriter JOE BONAMASSA is set to release his seventh solo album, SLOE GIN, on August 21, 2007. Bonamassa's fourth release, the disc re-teams him with producer Kevin Shirley (Joe Satriani, Black Crowes, Aerosmith, Led Leppelin), who produced 2006's YOU & ME, which debuted at #1 on Billboard's Blues Chart in June of last year.

 
MTV Unplugged in New York
MTV Unplugged in New York

Nirvana's Unplugged remains one of the band's most majestic moments. Coming hot off the heels of the In Utero album, the band decided to stop into MTV's studios in New York City and play an acoustic set that completely erased any notions that they were just a simple "grunge" band. Kurt Cobain seems completely relaxed throughout, and he gives some staggeringly beautiful vocal performances.

 

Blues Scale Riff In Gm

This riff is actually based on three different Blues Scales. It starts off in Gm Blues, moves to Cm Blues at bar five, back to Gm Blues at bar seven, up to Dm Blues at bar nine, then back to Gm Blues at bar eleven. Even though it moves through the three scales, it would be described as being in Gm, or more commonly just G. This is a very common format for this type of riff.


Besides being a dynamite tune, the end solo is a fine example of the Gm Blues Scale in action.

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Comments 7 comments

lucybell21 profile image

lucybell21 4 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

I enjoyed listening to your video. I played it twice.


Lorne Hemmerling profile image

Lorne Hemmerling 4 years ago from Port Hope Author

Thanks lucy. I was in the pocket at that time. I could feel every note I played. Not every solo feels that way. Thanks again!!


Xan Sillem 4 years ago

Nice work on your videos


Lorne Hemmerling profile image

Lorne Hemmerling 4 years ago from Port Hope Author

Thanks very much, Xan. Pretty easy to do on a Mac. I am posting a hub on the combination scale. Please check it out if you get a chance!


Joe D'Souza 4 years ago

Great,Excellent Way to go. I would also like to know if you have anything on shredding exercises from basic to advanced.Please let me know.

Regards.


Lorne Hemmerling profile image

Lorne Hemmerling 4 years ago from Port Hope Author

Hi Joe. Thanks very much for the compliment. Don't know how qualified I am to teach shredding. Many years ago, I got Luke and Tim from Protest The Hero started on guitar. They ran with it from there. I will check the archives and see if I can find anything. Guitar World put out a great article on How T Play Fast. I believe Jimmy Brown was the author. Very good primer. Here is the link:

http://www.guitarworld.com/guitar-101-how-play-fas...

Also check out part 2. Hope this helps!!


Lorne Hemmerling profile image

Lorne Hemmerling 4 years ago from Port Hope Author

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