Blues Scale

Learn how to play the Blues scale

All five shapes

Watch This Video

Blues scale exercises


All five shapes of the Blues Scale

The Blues scale is the second most common scale guitar players use when they improvise. To build it, all you do is add the b5 to the Minor Pentatonic.

If you have been calling out the intervals as you practiced your Minor Pentatonic, you will know where all your 4th and 5th are in each shape. To build the Blues scale, simply add the b5 in between!

Knowing where the intervals are within the scale is the key to being able to just add a note like this to the shapes.

Later on, when you learn the minor modes, you will do this again, just with other intervals.

Below, you find all five shapes of the blues scale in the key of Am. When you can play this, move on to the remaining 11 keys as well as you move through the cycle of 4th. Next up is Dm, Gm, Cm etc.


Watch These Videos

Am Blues scale shapes


Connect Shapes

The next exercise connects all five shapes of the Blues scale.

Don’t expect to nail this on your first go, just take it slowly, in time you’ll get it.

Once you’re cool with playing this in Am as I do in the video, crack on with Dm, Gm etc, all the way around the cycle of 4th.

Triplets are used in this connect shapes exercise. As well as triplets, why not play this exercise using 16th notes?

The more ways you can find to vary the rhythm of an exercise, the quicker you’ll complete it.


Watch These Videos

Connect Blues scale shapes


Closest Shape Possible

Your final Blues scale exercise moves to the closest shape possible as we go through your favorite cycle, the cycle of 4th!

Just like when you practiced the Minor Pentatonic, the movement of this exercise flows like this: Em shape – Am shape – Dm shape – Gm shape – Cm shape.

When you played through five shapes, start on the root of Bb and continue up the fret board.

When you can play this exercise at a high BPM, stop practicing the Blues scale shapes and start looking for the scale in songs.


Watch These Videos

Cycle of 4th


Acoustic Guitar Lessons


Hey There Delilah – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this first step, we learn how to play the verse and chorus from Hey There Delilah, just like on the original recording.

Use the TAB loops to master these two relatively simple sections of the song.

Go to Hey There Delilah step 1.


Mad World – Step 1 (Free Preview)

To learn how to play Mad World, we start by looking at the verse. First, practice all examples to the loop as the TAB display, then start mixing the patterns up.

This composition is in Dorian, which means chord II is our home.

Go to Mad World step 1.


Whistle For The Choir – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Let’s start learning this song.

First, we go through all the areas you can play this song in when in the key of A.

Go to Whistle For The Choir step 1.


Blowin’ In The Wind – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this step, we learn the verse of Blowin’ In The Wind using a capo on fret 2.

What you’ll hear is in the key of D, however, you must think as if in the key of C.

Go to Blowin’ In The Wind step 1.


Kiss Me – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this step, we actually start playing the song.

First up are the intro, instrumental, verse sections which all use the progression: Maj – maj7 – dom7 – maj7 on a loop.

Go to Kiss Me step 1.


Babylon – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Today we finally start working on a song again!

It’s Babylon by David Gray and of course, it does have a hammer-on and pull-off lick in it.

Go to Babylon step 1.


Fast Car – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this first step, we learn how to play the two guitar parts that make up the original verse of Fast Car.

Complete this step and you’ll realize that just working out the original part is not enough if you want to learn how to actually write something like this.

Go to Fast Car step 1.


Angie – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In the first step of how to play Angie, we look at how to strum the verse and chorus.

Use the TAB loops to practice each section individually.

Go to Angie step 1.


American Pie – Step 1 (Free Preview)

It’s time to discover how one of the world’s most legendary songs was put together.

Let’s put Don McLean’s American Pie under the microscope, we start with the chorus.

Go to American Pie step 1.


A Change Is Gonna Come – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this firsts step, we learn two extremely detailed TAB examples which are exact transcriptions of what I play in the video with the singer.

Out of all 8 steps, this is by far the most difficult. It is also the most complex lesson so far in this course.

Go to A Change Is Gonna Come step 1.


Sunny Afternoon – Step 2 (Free Preview)

In this step, we learn to play the intro/chorus tag. It uses a swing feel and presents several challenges.

Not only is it difficult to fret the descending bass line, but there’s also plenty of muting going on as well.

Go to Sunny Afternoon step 2.


Dreadlock Holiday – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this first step, we play the intro, the verse and the bridge of this pop-reggae classic by 10cc.

A few chords in this one guitar arrangement are not correct. Find out what we can learn from this.

Go to Dreadlock Holiday step 1.


I’m Yours – Step 3 (Free Preview)

The time has come to learn how to play I’m Yours by Jason Mraz.

I actually recorded this before Jason released his official version and had my own first youtube hit with it.

Go to I’m Yours step 3.


Red – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In the first step, we look at how to play the verse of Red as played in this one acoustic guitar arrangement.

The tempo has been lowered from 92 to 78 BPM and the overall feel is very different from the original.

Go to Red step 1.


Starman – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this first step, we look at the intro with its unique Bbadd#11 chord and the much more common Fmaj7.

Following this, we also work on the verse which has an unusual order of common chords from the key of F. TAB loops are available for everything.

Go to Starman step 1.


I Can’t Stand The Rain – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this first step, we look at how to play the main riff in the key of A.

To learn from it we study the intervals, play it in five areas of the neck as well as consider hammer-on’s, bends, slides and pull-off’s.

Go to I Can’t Stand The Rain step 1.


Electric Guitar Lessons


Rescue Me – Step 2 (Free Preview)

The chorus of Rescue Me mainly moves between the two chords A and D.

To develop a good guitar part for it, you must ensure you can play these two chords anywhere on the neck. Let’s practice with the band.

Go to Rescue Me step 2.


You Can’t Hurry Love – Step 2 (Free Preview)

I want you to be able to play the chorus progression anywhere on the neck as this will make it more enjoyable playing the song.

You could in this way keep changing it every time you play it.

Go to You Can’t Hurry Love step 2.


Can I Get A Witness – Step 2 (Free Preview)

To learn how to play this riff in an improvised way all over the neck, first work your way through all examples one by one.

Then start improvising.

Go to Can I Get A Witness step 2.


Be My Baby – Step 2 (Free Preview)

In this lesson, we learn how to play big barre chord shapes as we play the verse for Be My Baby.

As the song is in the key of E, we can take advantage of open strings. This will help when trying to create a wall of sound.

Go to Be My Baby step 2.


Soul Man – Step 2 (Free Preview)

One bar long, that’s all. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

Let’s spend half an hour on this one bar of music by digging deep into all its detail.

Go to Soul Man step 2.


Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 2 (Free Preview)

Before we get into all the different ways we can play Money (That’s What I Want), we need to clear something up.

We need to talk about and understand, Blues melody language. We will do that by looking to the king of scales, the Minor Pentatonic.

Go to Money (That’s What I Want) step 2.


I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 2 (Free Preview)

During the verse, the Ebm feels like the I chord of a blues.

Sure, the order and length of the chords are different from a standard blues, but the overall feel is there. It’s just that the I chord is now a Im chord.

Go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine step 2.


Get Ready – Step 2 (Free Preview)

First of all, you must try playing the riff in all positions. Not only will this teach you to play the riff better, but you’ll also manifest the Minor Pentatonic scale in your hands.

Moving a riff around like this is a much better idea than just practicing the scale up and down.

Go to Get Ready step 2.


Son Of A Preacher Man – Step 2 (Free Preview)

Let’s learn that verse! The progression moves from chord I to chord IV and then back again.

The use of the 6 over the E chord, hints the 3rd of the A.

Go to Son Of A Preacher Man step 2.


My Guy – Step 2 (Free Preview)

The more you change between the rhythms and positions, the better.

Right now, this is not about performing the song, this is practicing getting good at moving around the neck. First, we develop, then we refine.

Go to My Guy step 2.


Respect – Step 2 (Free Preview)

Being in the key of C, the two verse chords are G7 and F7.

In order to find a good part for the verse, we must explore the fret board using different shapes and try the different rhythms we find on the original recording.

Go to Respect step 2.


Jimmy Mack – Step 2 (Free Preview)

In this step, we learn the intro. The chords are extended and substituted to create more jazzy sounds.

First, learn all examples as the TAB says, then start improvising what shapes you play.

Go to Jimmy Mack step 2.


Master Blaster – Step 2 (Free Preview)

What’s so interesting with the verse progression is that we can’t exactly define what the Roman Numerals are.

The chords are several things at the same time. It’s a master class in how to write a great chord progression if you like.

Go to Master Blaster step 2.


Related Pages


Exercises

All those open position chords you learned in the beginner course now become barre chords and pentatonic scales.

We’ll use this to map out the entire fret board. Everything becomes easier to visualize once this foundation is laid.

Go to Intermediate guitar exercises.


Acoustic Course

Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

The intermediate songs require you to learn barre chords and pentatonic scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fret board.

Go to Intermediate guitar course.


Intermediate Acoustic Songs

You can learn how to play these intermediate songs on the acoustic guitar.

A Change Is Gonna Come, American Pie, Angie, Babylon, Blowin’ In The Wind, Dreadlock Holiday, Fast Car, Hey There Delilah, I Can’t Stand The Rain, I’m Yours, Kiss Me, Mad World, Red, Starman, Sunny Afternoon, and Whistle For The Choir.

Go to Intermediate acoustic songs.


Electric Course

Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

These Motown/Soul songs require you to learn how to play fractions of barre chord shapes and build improvised licks using pentatonic scales.

Go to Intermediate electric guitar course.


Intermediate Electric Songs

You can learn how to play these intermediate songs on the electric guitar.

Be My Baby, Can I Get A Witness, Get Ready, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Jimmy Mack, Master Blaster (Jammin’), Money (That’s What I Want), My Guy, Rescue Me, Respect, Son Of A Preacher Man, Soul Man, and You Can’t Hurry Love.

Go to Intermediate electric songs.


Sign Up

A monthly subscription with access to all acoustic and electric step by step lessons, each one designed to bring your guitar playing skills to the next level.

Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

Go to Monthly subscription.