The Mixo Blues Scale | Mixolydian Blues scale | Mixo Dorian scale | Guitar Shapes & licks

The mixo blues scale can be confusing because of its different names. Indeed, it can also be called Mixolydian blues scale or mixo-Dorian blues scale or even mixolydian / blues hybrid scale. Anyway the result is the same, this scale is a combination of the minor blues scale (1-b3-4-b5-5-b7) and the Mixolydian mode 1-2-3-4-5-6-b7. It belongs to the "hybrid scales family". The result of this mix is a nonatonic scale containing nine notes. Here is the formula 1-2 (9)-b10 (or #9 or b3)-3-11(4)-b5(#11)-5-13(6)-b7. 


C mixo blues scale C D Eb E F F# G A Bb
Formula 1 2 (9) b10 (b3 or #9) 3 4 (11) b5 (#11) 5 6 (13) b7
Intervals W H H H H H W H W

W= whole step - H=Half step

The first thing that could worry you is the presence of the b10. This is the same note as the minor third (b3) but theoretically we cannot have two thirds, that's why it's better to call it b10. Note that it can also considered as a raised ninth (#9).

You have to notice that there are some possible extensions in it. The ninth (9), the raised ninth (#9), the eleventh (11), the raised eleventh and the thirteenth. That means you can play the mixoblues scale over the following dominant 7th chords (example given in C) :

  • C7, C9, C#9, C11, C#11, C7b5, C13.

The Mixolydian blues scale is a nice choice for coloring basic mixolydian lines. An effective solution when you want to add a bluesy touch and spice up your playing over any dominant seventh chord.

Mixo blues scale - Guitar position 1 & 2 - One octave

Here is a first mixoblues scale guitar position. The roots (R) are located on the first, the fourth and the sixth string. Why it is so important to identify where the root notes are placed on the guitar neck ? Because they have a crucial function. They give its name to a scale.

For example, the A Mixolydian blues scale has its roots on the sixth string at the fifth fret, on the fourth string at the seventh fret and on the first string at the fifth fret. Any jazz guitar student must be able to locate any root and play any scale anywhere on the guitar fretboard.

Guitar diagram # 1

Mixo blues guitar diagram 1

This second mixoblues guitar diagram has its roots on the fifth, third and first strings. To play the D Mixolydian blues scale starting with the lowest root (on the fifth string) you have to place your first finger at the fifth fret on the guitar fretboard.

This diagram is a little more  difficult than the previous. Indeed, you will have to slide with your little finger between the minor seventh (b7) and  the highest root. 

Don't hesitate to experiment your own fingerings.

Guitar diagram # 2

Mixo blues guitar diagram 2

Related scales to know

Before learning the mixolydian blues scale, it is important to master the following scales before.

The major pentatonic scale

The major pentatonic scale is made up of five notes, "penta" means five and "tonic" means notes. It is built with a root (1), major second (2), major third (3), perfect fifth (5) and sixth (6). It is one of the most played scales and often the first choice when you want to improvise over major chords.

C major pentatonic scale C D E G A
Formula 1 2 3 5 6
Intervals W W W+H W W+H


The minor pentatonic scale

The minor pentatonic scale is the fifth mode of the major pentatonic scale. It is the first scale to know for a guitarist exploring the wide world of improvisation because it is easy to remember, easy to play and it sounds great on a modal tune or a jazz blues progression.  As its name implies, it is made up of five notes ("penta" means "five and tonic means "notes").

A minor pentatonic scale A C D E G
Formula 1 b3 4 5 b7
Intervals W+H W W W+H W


The minor blues scale

The minor blues scale contains the same notes as the minor pentatonic scale with a flat fifth (b5) added 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.

C minor blues scale C Eb F F# G Bb
Formula 1 b3 (b10 or #9) 4 (11)  b5 (#11 or #4) 5 b7
Intervals W+H W H H W+H W


The major blues scale

The major blues scale is made up of six notes per octaves just as the minor blues scale. In comparison with the major pentatonic scale, there is an additional note between the second (2) and the major third (3). This note is named flat tenth (b10) or flat third (b3) this a blue note.

C major blues scale C D Eb E G A
Formula 1 2 b10 or b3 3 5 6
Intervals W H H W + H W W+H


The Mixolydian mode

The Mixolydian mode is the mode to know when you want to play over dominant chords (not altered). It is widely used in jazz and blues music and one of the most important to master.

G mixolydian mode G A B C D E F
Formula 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
Intervals W W H W W H W


The Dominant bebop scale

The dominant bebop scale is an octatonic scale (it contains eight notes). It is widely used in bebop music.  This scale has the same notes as the Mixolydian mode including a major seventh, chromatic passing tone between the minor seventh (b7) and the root (1). 

G Dominant bebop scale G A B C D E F F#
Formula 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 7
Intervals W W H W W H H H


George Benson - Mixoblues lick

This example shows how George Benson used the Mixolydian blues scale in his jazz improvisation. This lick is a transcription of his solo in "Last train to Clarksville" a cover of the Monkees. You can notice that the G mixoblues scale is played over a G7 chord. There are no particular difficulties in this line, except perhaps the choice of the fingering. Once you have learned this line, you must be able to play it in any key and make it evolve by adding notes that you hear or that you feel. The aim of learning licks like this George Benson's riff is to be able to replace them in your guitar improvisations. Not necessarily note-by-note but that the general idea comes out naturally in your playing.

G mixo blues scale G A Bb B C C# D E F
Formula 1 9 b3 or #9 3 11 b5 (#11) 5 13 b7
Intervals W H H H HH H W H W


Geoges benson mixoblues guitar lick lesson

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Last edited: 25/05/2018