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Blues Guitar Scale and Chords

The Blues Guitar Scale and Chords is part 12 in a 14 part series on Beginner Guitar Lessons. The blues scale is played over blues guitar chords. We will discuss blues chords, the blues scale and I will perform some sample progressions.

It's important to note that listening to the blues really helps in understanding how to play it. It will also help your rock chops as well.

All of the great rock, jazz and blues guitarists have spent time listening to Robert Johnson, the father of the blues. Lastly, a good understanding of the blues helps us become better songwriters!


BLUES GUITAR SCALE


THE BLUES GUITAR SCALE

The blues guitar scale is a 6 note scale that is the same as the minor pentatonic scale with the addition of the blue note.

The minor pentatonic is: do, me, fa, sol, te or 1, flat 3, 4, 5, flat 7. You don't play the 2nd or the 6th (re and la). You skip over them. This gives your improvisation a real rock sound.

The blues scale is: do, me, fa, fi, sol, te or 1, flat 3, 4, sharp 4, 5, flat 7. The sharp 4 is a tritone from the root. This interval is a dark one and it used to be called the devil's interval because of it's dissonant nature.

When improvising using this scale, we don't land on it, but rather slide or bend through it to create that bluesy or melancholy sound.

Here is what the basic A minor blues guitar scale looks like. Starting on the 5th fret of the guitar here is the two octave scale.

A blues scal

image courtesy of: www.guitarscalemastery.com


BLUES GUITAR CHORDS

Blues chords typically are comprised of the following:

-triads (3 note chords covered in parts 3-9 on this site)
-dominant 7th chords (4 note chords)
-minor 7th chords (4 note chords)
-diminished 7th chords


BLUES GUITAR CHORDS


1. DOMINANT 7TH CHORDS

Dominant 7th chords are 3 note major triads with a flat 7 on top making a 4 note chord. To review triads see: C Major Chord and C Guitar Chord

Here is how you spell all 12 dominant 7th chords:

*parenthesis indicate enharmonic (same) chords with different names

C7 (B#7) - C, E, G, Bb
D7 - D, F#, A, C
E7 (Fb7) - E, G#, B, D
F7 (E#7) - F, A, C, Eb
G7 - G, B, D, F
A7 - A, C#, E, G
B7 (Cb7) - B, D#, F#, A

Bb7 (A#7) - Bb, D, F, Ab
Eb7 (D#7) - Eb, G, Bb, Db
Ab7 (G#7) - Ab, C, Eb, Gb
Db7 (C#7) - Db, F, Ab, Cb
Gb7 (F#7) - Gb, Bb, Db, Fb

Here are some dominant 7th chord shapes:

A7 CHORD

A7 chord

B7 CHORD

B7 chord

C7 CHORD

C7 chord

C7/G CHORD (5th in the base)

C7/G chord

C7 CHORD (version 2)

C7 chord

D7 CHORD

D7 chord

E7 CHORD

E7 chord

E7 CHORD (version 2)

E7 guitar chord

G7 CHORD

G7 chord


2. MINOR 7TH CHORDS

Minor 7th chords are 3 note minor triads with a flat 7 on top making a 4 note chord. To review triads see: C Major Chord and C Guitar Chord

Another way to indicate minor is a (-) sign ie; Cmin7 = C-7

Here is how you spell all 12 minor 7th chords:

*parenthesis indicate enharmonic (same) chords with different names

Cmin7 (B#min7) - C, Eb, G, Bb
Dmin7 - D, F, A, C
Emin7 - E, G, B, D
Fmin7 (E#min7) - F, Ab, C, Eb
Gmin7 - G, Bb, D, F
Amin7 - A, C, E, G
Bmin7 - B, D, F#, A

Bbmin7 (A#min7) - Bb, Db, F, Ab
Ebmin7 (D#min7) - Eb, Gb, Bb, Db
Abmin7 (G#min7) - Ab, Cb, Eb, Gb
Dbmin7 (C#min7) - Db, Fb, Ab, Cb
Gbmin7 (F#min7) - Gb, A, Db, Fb

Here are some minor 7th chord shapes:

Amin7 CHORD also written A-7 CHORD

A minor 7 chord

Dmin7 CHORD also written D-7 CHORD

D minor 7 CHORD

Gmin7 CHORD also written G-7 CHORD

G minor 7 chord

Gmin7 CHORD or G-7 CHORD (version 2)

G minor 7 chord


3. DIMINISHED 7TH CHORDS

Diminished 7th chords are stacked minor 3rds. Because of their symmetrical nature, there are only 3 diminished chords, but since they have 4 notes in them, they each have 4 different names.

*technically they contain a root, a flat 3rd, a flat 5th and a double flat 7

Cdim7, Ebdim7, Gbdim7 and Adim7 are all the same chord because they all contain: C, Eb, Gb, A

Dbdim7, Edim7, Gdim7 and Bbdim7 are all the same chord because they all contain: Db, E, G, Bb

Ddim7, Fdim7, Abdim7 and Bdim7 are all the same chord because they all contain: D, F, Ab, B

Here are some diminished 7th chord shapes:

B DIMINISHED CHORD

b diminished chord

E DIMINISHED CHORD

E diminished chord

G# DIMINISHED CHORD

G# diminished chor

PLAYING THE BLUES

The video below demonstrates 3 different 12 bar blues progressions.

PLAYING THE BLUES


1st progression
E7///E7///E7///E7///A7///A7///
E7///E7///B7///A7///E7///B7///

2nd progression
E7///E7///E7///E7///A7///A#dim7///
E7///E7///B7///C7/B7/E7///B7///

3rd progression
E7///A7///E7///Bmin7/E7/A7///A#dim7///
E7///G#min7/C#7/F#min7///B7///E7/C#7/F#min7/B7/

Thanks for visiting Blues Guitar Scale. I hope it was helpful. Now let's look at some Jazz chords and scales.




Continue to Part 13, Jazz Guitar Chords

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Return to Beginner Guitar Lessons

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