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Introduction to the Minor Blues Scale


When first learning how to solo over any style of music, such as rock, blues and jazz, one of the first scales that we explore on the guitar is the minor blues scale.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most versatile scales that you can use in your soloing phrases, the minor blues scale is fairly easy to finger on the guitar, fun to solo with and a great way to begin playing in a jazz guitar setting.

Used by every great jazz guitarist in their soloing ideas, this scale can be heard in legendary solos from players such as Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, George Benson and many more.

Because of this, the minor blues scale is essential learning for anyone studying jazz guitar and jazz guitar improvisation.

In this lesson you’ll learn how to build, play, practice and solo with the minor blues scale in a jazz setting, as well as check out a sample solo to help you bring this scale from the page and onto the fretboard in your practice routine.

 

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Minor Blues Scale Construction

To begin, let’s look at the interval structure of the minor blues scale.

This scale is built with the intervals Root-b3-4-#4-5-b7, or you can also think of this scale as a minor pentatonic scale with an added #4 note. This added note is often referred to as the blue note as it characterizes this scale, as well as sounds very bluesy when applied to your jazz guitar soloing lines and phrases.

 

F Minor Blues Scale F Ab Bb B C Eb
1 b3 4 #4 5 b7

 

 

Here is how that scale and interval structure looks on paper when written out in the key of F:

 

Blues Guitar Scale

 

Since the minor blues scale is built from adding one note to the minor pentatonic scale, you can use this scale to solo over similar harmonies as the minor pentatonic scale as well. Here is a list of chords that you can apply the Minor Blues Scale to in your jazz guitar soloing ideas.

  • Major Triads
  • Major 7th Chords
  • Dominant 7th Chords
  • Minor Triads
  • Minor 7th Chords

As you can see, this is a very versatile scale, as you can also use it to outline entire keys such as playing an F minor blues scale over a blues in F chord progression, as well as a number of individual chords as listed above.

Because of these the minor blues scale is a great place to begin when first exploring improvisation on the guitar. So, now that you know how to build it, let’s learn how to play the minor blues scale on the guitar.

 

Minor Blues Scale Fingerings

Here are the 5 common fingerings for this scale on the fretboard of the guitar, presented here in the key of F. Work on each shape slowly with a metronome in multiple keys across the neck as you memorize each shape and get the sound of this scale into your ears, as well as each shape under your fingers.

 

Blues Guitar Scale 8

 

 

Blues Guitar Scale 9

 

 

Blues Guitar Scale 10

 

 

Blues Guitar Scale 11

 

 

Blues Guitar Scale 12

 

After you have worked out one of these patterns, try putting on an F7 backing track and solo over that chord using one of these minor blues scale fingerings as the basis for your lines.

When you have worked two fingerings on their own, combine these two patterns in your soloing exercise and continue to work each scale fingering in this manner until you’ve worked out all 5 in the woodshed. You can then take this exercise to other 7th chords in your practice routine in order to ensure that you learn these fingerings from a technical standpoint, but also in an improvisational context as well.

 

5 Minor Blues Scale Jazz Licks

To help you take this scale from the technical side of your practice routine to the improvisational, here are 5 classic sounding blues scale licks that you can work on in 12 keys and apply to your jazz guitar soloing lines and phrases.

 

Listen & Play:

 

Blues Guitar Scale 2

 

 

Listen & Play:

 

Blues Guitar Scale 3

 

 

Listen & Play:

 

Blues Guitar Scale 4

 

 

Listen & Play:

 

Blues Guitar Scale 5

 

 

Listen & Play:

 

Blues Guitar Scale 6

 

Minor Blues Scale Solo

To finish our intro look at the minor blues scale, here is a sample solo over an F blues that you can work on in the woodshed, as well as use for inspiration when jamming or gigging on a jazz blues chord progression.

 

Listen & Play:

 

Blues Guitar Scale 7

 

Once you have this solo under your fingers, with a metronome and/or backing track, try writing out a jazz blues solo of your own that uses the licks and scale patterns from this minor blues scale lesson as the foundation for your solo etude.

 

If you're interested in learning how to play jazz blues guitar step-by-step, download our ebook Introduction to Jazz Blues Guitar

 


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