Skip to content

Minor Blues Scale Bass Lesson

What is the Minor Blues Scale?

The Minor Blues Scale Bass Lesson –> In the previous lesson we covered the Minor Pentatonic scale. Recall that the minor pentatonic is comprised of the roots, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th of the minor scale. Below is a C minor pentatatonic:

C minor pentatonic pattern bass scale

The Minor Blues scale is the same as the minor pentatonic with one more note – the Flat 5th. So the minor blues scale consist of the the roots, 3rd, 4th, 5th, flat5, and 7th of the minor scale. Below is a C minor blues scale:

C minor blues scale

Minor Blues Scale Fingering

The scale can be played using a 4-fret span pattern. This pattern can be applied anywhere on the fretboard except when playing with open strings, or when playing more than one note on a string (see Intervals section below). To play this pattern, use the following fingering:

  • High Root – 1 finger (index)
  • Flat 3rd – 4 finger (pinkie)
  • 4th – 1 finger (index)
  • Flat 5th – 2 finger (middle)
  • 5th – 3 finger (ring)
  • Flat 7th – 1 finger (index)
  • Low Root– 3 finger (ring)

Minor Blues Scale Steps

The minor blues scale is constructed with these steps (intervals) between notes: Whole 1/2, Whole, Half, Half, Whole 1/2, Whole. Below is the C minor blues scale showing the steps between each note – W1/2=Whole and One Half Step, W=Whole Step, H=Half:

minor blues scale interval steps

Knowing the intervals can help when you don’t use the 4-fret span fingering – playing on open strings, playing more than one note on same string, etc.

Why Is It Blue?

This scale is called a blues scale because it contains the “blue notes” of the major scale. The blue notes of major scale include the flat 3rd, flat 5th, and flat 7th. Below is a C major scale with the blue notes in blue:

blue notes on the major scale

When the blue notes are played as part of the major scale or within major chords they create that distinctive “bluesy” sound.

This is pointed out because a lot of times the blue notes are not used as the main bassline throughout a song. Instead they are more often played as part of a major scale bassline to add a bluesy sound to a song.

Applying the Minor Blues Scale

The minor blues scale is of course used when playing blues style music. You will most commonly hear it played throughout segments of blues songs – instead of using it throughout the entire song. Often the blues scale is played to emphasize major chords played with a blues chord progression. Often the blue notes are played as part of a major scale bassline to add a bluesy sound to a song.

The scale is also used extensively in rock, funk, and R&B styles of music. You will hear a lot of riffs in rock and funk that are using the minor blues scale. As with other minor scales and chords, the blues scale creates a darker sound that works well with heavier sounding riffs. Again, the blue notes are often played to clash with major chords to create a distinctive blues sound.

Songs That Use the Minor Blues Scale

“The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King. Here is a classic blues song with a minor blues scale bass line. The bassist plays the scale in B and E throughout.

B.B. King - The Thrill Is Gone ( 1969 ) HD

“Heartbreaker” by Led Zeppelin – John Paul Jones uses the minor pentatonic and minor blues scale extensively within a number of Led Zeppelin songs. Here in “Heartbreaker” the A and B blues scale is played throughout. The coda is played using the A minor blues scale.

Heartbreaker (Remaster)

“Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple. Another iconic bass line that uses the minor blues. A G minor blues scale is played throughout the song.

Smoke on the Water (2012 Remaster)

Minor Blues Scale Bass Lesson