There have been several variations of Blues Scales used over the years. Most commonly, the Blues Scale refers to the 6 note scale derived by adding a #4 / b5 note to the Pentatonic Scale. This note is sometimes referred to as a Blue note because it gives the Blues it’s distinct sound.

Here is the Blues Scales below the Chromatic, Diatonic, and Pentatonic Scales from the Pentatonic Scales lesson, so you can see how the Blues Scale is derived from the Pentatonic Scale.

Blues Scale

Here is the C Major / Am Blues Scale.

fretboard blues 1

It is a movable pattern, just like the bar chords are movable.

  • If the song is in C Major or Am you can use this pattern at the 5th fret to play lead or solo.
  • If the song is in G or Em, you simply move this pattern to the open position.
  • If the song is in F or Dm, you simply move this pattern to the 10th fret and play on.

You should identify each “Box” by where the root note lies within the pattern. Practice each pattern until you have it down, maybe for a whole day, or a whole week before moving to the next.

Here is the next “Box” shown for the C Major or Am Blues Scale. Notice it is adjacent to the previous pattern at the 5th fret.

fretboard blues 2

Here’s the next pattern, shown for the C Major or Am Blues Scale.

  • Notice it is adjacent to the previous pattern at the 2nd and 3rd frets.
  • Note also, that even though this falls on the open position, it repeats at the 12th fret just like everything else
  • It’s probably better to practice the boxes away from the open position until you get them down.

fretboard blues 3

Since the Blues Scale is a 6 note scale, there are technically 6 places on the 6th string to start a “Box” pattern, but it probably doesn’t add much to define a box between two Pentatonic Scale boxes.

Again, don’t rush through these patterns. They take time to sink in.

Here is the next pattern for the C Major or Am Blues Scale, adjacent to the previous pattern at the 12th fret.

fretboard blues 4

And finally, here is the last pattern for the C Major or Am Pentatonic Scale, adjacent to the previous pattern at the 10th fret, and adjacent to the first pattern we learned above at the 7th and 8th frets.

fretboard blues 5
While the 5 box patterns are an effective tool for learning the Blues Scale and getting it under your fingers. Start moving between adjacent boxes.

  • Play one box, then immediately play the next box below it.
  • Keep going until you wrap around and get back to the box on which you started.
  • Now reverse the order, play a box and then immediately play the next box above it.
  • Keep going until you wrap around and get back to the box on which you started.

Can you identify the root note in each box?

  • Think about each root note as you move to each box.

Now it is important to start breaking the box boundaries. Adding a few notes from adjacent boxes builds fluidity and is the next step in “seeing” the Blues Scale pattern across the entire fretboard at once. For example, here is the first box we learned above with some notes added from the adjacent boxes on either side.

fretboard blues 6

Apply this to all the box patterns eventually extending the patterns to cover 3 full octaves, starting from any box, at a moment’s notice. You may find it helpful to chart them out on fretboard paper so you can plan your practicing.

blank fretboard.pdf

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