So the dog ran away, your better half left you, you’ve lost your job, and the car broke down. That could bring on a serious case of the blues. It’s best to know how to express those blues in musical form, so we’ll cover the basics of how to play the blues guitar.
As a starting point, it’s good to review the minor pentatonic scale, because the blues guitar scale is just a minor pentatonic scale plus one note (in two octaves). Aptly enough, this note is called the “blue note,” and it is a flat 5th. This configuration is sometimes called the “pentatonic blues scale.” When you’re improvising over a blues progression, these are the notes that will form the backbone of your playing.
So here’s the old familiar minor pentatonic scale, but with our flat fifth added in to create the blues scale:
Couldn’t be easier, right?
Here it is again, this time shown in the root 5th form, with a few more options for where to play the blue note.
Of course, you can add the blue note to any other form of the minor pentatonic scale for guitar, as well. We’ve just given you the two most common examples here.
Click for much more on musical scales and modes.