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The Blues Guitar Scale and the Pentatonic Guitar Scale

Here you'll find a description of the blues guitar scale and pentatonic guitar scale. I've included tab for each. We'll start with the pentatonic guitar scale. I'll use the key of A to describe them.

The A Minor Pentatonic Guitar Scale:

E|--------------------------------5--8|

B|--------------------------5---8-----|

G|-------------------5---7------------|

D|--------------5---7-----------------|

A|-------5---7------------------------|

E|-5---8------------------------------|

The A minor pentatonic guitar scale starts on the 5th fret A on the low E string. There are 5 notes in the scale (hence the prefix "penta-"). The notes are A, C, D, E, G then the A again at the octave.

The intervals between the notes in the pentatonic scale are 1.5 steps, whole step, whole step, 1.5 steps, and then one whole steps up to the octave (a half step is one fret or half tone, and a whole step is 2 frets or a whole tone).

The A Minor Blues Guitar Scale:

E|--------------------------------------5--8|

B|-------------------------------5---8------|

G|-----------------------5--7--8------------|

D|-----------------5---7--------------------|

A|-------5--6--7----------------------------|

E|-5---8------------------------------------|

The A minor blues guitar scale starts on the 5th fret A on the low E string. There are 6 notes in the scale so there's just one more note then a regular penatonic scale. The notes are A, C, D, D#(Eb), E, G then the A again at the octave.

The D# is the extra note which is what gives the scale its "bluesiness." I consider it a "passing tone" which means that it's dissonant enough that you can't really land on it on a solo and sustain it. You basically play it in the solo while going up or down the scale, or in the middle of a lick.

I hope that makes sense. Experiment with it and you'll see what I mean.

 

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