The minor blues scale | Jazz guitar lesson, licks & diagrams
The minor blues scale or "blues scale" or "pentatonic blues scale" contains the same notes as the minor pentatonic scale, including a flat fifth (b5) between the fourth and the sixth referred to as the "blue note". This is a hexatonic scale, it is made up of six notes just as the major blues scale. This scale is very popular in jazz music and widely used by legendary jazz guitarists as Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, or Georges Benson. It's a simple and efficient scale, easy to learn, easy to memorize and very useful when you want to bring bluesy lines to your jazz guitar improvisations. This scale is a must know for anyone who wants to start learning jazz guitar improvisation.
As previously discussed the minor blues scale contains an additional note in comparison with the minor pentatonic scale. As its name implies the minor pentatonic scale is made up of five notes : root, minor third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth and minor seventh. The minor pentatonic blues scale formula is root : (1), minor third (b3), fourth (4), flat fifth (b5), fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). It contains six notes. The minor third (b3) can be considered as b10 or #9 just as the flat fifth (b5) can be thought of as #4 or #11.
|C minor blues scale||C||Eb||F||F#||G||Bb|
|C minor pentatonic scale||C||Eb||F||X||G||Bb|
|Formula||1||b3 (b10 or #9)||4 (11)||b5 (#11 or #4)||5||b7|
You can apply the minor blues scale over the same chords as the minor pentatonic scale :
- Minor chords.
- Major chords.
- Minor seventh chords.
- Major seventh chords.
- Dominant 7th chords.
Minor blues scale | Guitar fretboard diagrams
Here are five guitar fretboard diagrams for the minor blues scale.
The blue note is the green note (b5).3 It is important to locate the root note (R), this is the orange note in the diagram. This note is very important, it will serve as the base for transpose this scale using these diagrams.
Once you have memorized one fingering you must transpose it by moving the root on the desired note keeping the same intervals.
Minor blues lick | I and IV blues sequence
This easy short jazz guitar lick shows you how to apply the minor blues scale over the two first measures of a classic blues progression in the key of A, indeed you can play a A minor blues lick over a dominant 7th chord, which is a major chord.
Before talking about this lick its important to understand how to build a 12-bar blues progression, this is the basis before learning blues, jazz lines. A basic blues progression most of the time is made up of 12 bars with 3 chords of a given key.
It means that in the key of A we will take three chords corresponding to the I, IV and V degree of the A major scale :
- A7 is the I.
- D7 the IV.
- E7 the V.
That gives the following basic blues sequence :
In this line below, there is no clash between the minor third of the minor blues scale and the major third of A7 because the minor third is not played here. As you can see in bar one it starts with the fifth (5) then the minor seventh (b7), fifth again, root (R), minor seventh, fifth and the blue note, the flat fifth as a chromatic passing tone between the fifth and the fourth. In bar two the fourth (D) is the eleventh of D7 and the minor third (C) is the minor seventh of D7. It works perfectly.
Minor blues lick | II-V sequence
The minor blues scale can also be played over a major II-V sequence. This progression is widely used in jazz blues / bebop heads. This II-V sequence is in the key C, to build it you must play the second and the fifth chord of the C major scale which are Dm7 and G7.
C major scale Harmonized
|C major scale||C||D||E||F||G||A||B|
Blues jazz / bebop progression
Here is a blues jazz progression in the key of C including the II-V sequence on bars 9 and 10.
|IIm7||V7||I6||II - V|
This lick is built with notes from the D minor blues scale over Dm7 and notes of the G mixolydian scale over G7.
- D minor blues scale is : D-F-G-Ab-A-C
- G mixolydian scale is : G-A-B-C-D-E-F
Bb minor blues scale lick
This Bb7 soul jazz guitar lick starts with a chromatic line (Eb-E-F) including "the blue note". This line is repeated an octave higher and repeated again at its original pitch.
Printable PDF eBook method containing 50 exercises with tabs & standard notation to practice the essential jazz guitar chords over the II-V-I progression.
This PDF eBook contains 11 guitar lessons with chords, tabs, standard notation analysis & audio files about the main blues progressions used in jazz music.
This PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to learn to master the altered scale.
40 easy jazz, blues guitar licks with tabs & scale charts. Printable PDF & eBook method to learn to play in the style of Wes Montgomery & Charlie Christian.
This PDF eBook is about 25 soul jazz guitar licks in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks. Lessons with tabs, diagrams, backing track & audio files.
This printable PDF book will help you to understand which scales should be played over a minor II-V-I sequence. Jazz guitar lesson with tabs & audio.
This jazz guitar eBook pdf contains 10 II-V-I jazz guitar licks with tabs, backing tracks, scales charts. Dorian, mixolydian, bebop and altered scales.
This eBook PDF contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and some diminished 7th arpeggios.
This printable PDF eBook contains 25 minor jazz guitar licks with tabs, video links, analysis. How to play modes, scales & arpeggios over minor chords.
The tritone substitution is explained through 5 jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video links and backing track links. Printable PDF eBook
Last edited: 06/03/2017