How to Play the E Minor Blues Scale

Blues scale is essentially a pentatonic scale with one additional note (the flat fifth, commonly referred to as “blue note”). Once you know how to play it, you can begin linking patterns together for extended lines up and down the fretboard.

This lesson introduces E minor blues scale box patterns, including how to play them using slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Scale Shapes

Looking at the E Minor Blues Scale from a fingerboard perspective, it consists of four distinct one-octave scale shapes which combine into an impressive grid of notes upon which you can improvise. The first form in the diagram above is open E Minor Pentatonic Scale which serves as its starting point and should become familiarized in order to play this scale more comfortably across your fretboard.

Once you have this pattern in mind, it’s advisable to apply this knowledge across the other scale shapes as well. By having this foundational knowledge in your arsenal of fingerboard knowledge it will make switching scales much simpler, particularly when practicing improvisation.

The second scale shape in the E minor blues scale is the open B major pentatonic scale shape, an essential piece to learn as it helps navigate a variety of chord progressions. Again, it would be beneficial if this scale shape were learned similarly.

As you work through scale shapes, it’s essential that you keep in mind where your root notes are – these are typically found at the twelfth fret of each string with your index finger – in order to quickly locate other notes in the scale and speed up your playing time. By remembering where these root notes lie, they will help speed up your performance!

Once you have these two scale shapes down pat, it’s time to add the blues note into your repertoire. This special note gives e minor blues scale its unique sound; adding it will complete its soundscape.

Chromatic blues notes can be an indispensable asset in your soloing arsenal, as they allow you to create tension that wouldn’t otherwise be achievable with traditional scales. By employing these chromatic notes in melodies, tension is created and released – essential components of creating an authentic blues sound on guitar!


The blues scale consists of intervals that are based upon the minor pentatonic scale. A useful way to think of it is as a minor pentatonic scale with an additional note added (called the blue note ). When used sparingly this additional note can add lots of bluesiness to your lead playing; but be careful not to overuse it or else it will sound harsh and harsh.

As with the minor pentatonic scale, it is beneficial to learn the five box patterns for this scale in order to gain a full grasp of its relationship to fretboard. Once this knowledge has been acquired, incorporating it into your playing can really elevate solos while adding bluesy flourishes into your music.

Here are a couple of licks you can use in your practice sessions to begin applying the E Minor Blues Scale. They work particularly well when playing over F7 chords as it shows how its application relates to them directly.

To work out these licks, begin by studying the first two shapes of the minor blues scale and moving onto its final form – D-shaped scale on bottom string – until all four of its positions have been learned. Remember to switch your hand position as you ascend or descend to ensure an efficient way of learning this scale.

Next, connect all of these one octave scale patterns together into larger scale shapes on the fretboard for an effective exercise that will not only give you more insight into their relationship but also assist in faster chord changes.

Once you have mastered this step, move onto learning the major blues scale using similar strategies. This will take your playing to another level and open up an abundance of licks for use across many styles of music. Be sure to practice them alongside an excellent backing track so that both technical and improvisational aspects are addressed simultaneously.

Blue Note

The blues scale is one of the most useful scales you can learn for lead guitar playing. Composed of five notes, it’s relatively straightforward and applicable across genres of music. If you are already adept at using minor pentatonic scale, incorporating blues scale will give your soloing and improvisation more versatility and allow for greater expression and innovation.

The major distinction between the blues scale and major scale lies in its additional “blue note.” This note helps alter the harmonic balance, creating more bluesy tones for your soloing as well as providing an array of harmonic sounds for chord progressions.

This extra blue note can be difficult to master as it adds a flat sixth note into the scale, but when used sparingly it can greatly enhance lead playing and make riffs more memorable. Just be mindful that too much use may result in harsh and unpleasant sounding notes if played too frequently; use when necessary and vary up your phrasing so as not to get bored using it!

Once you’ve mastered the minor blues scale, it is beneficial to practice it at different points on the fretboard. This will enable you to familiarize yourself with how the scale moves across its entirety as well as consolidating it so it becomes second nature – one way of doing this would be using a metronome while playing each shape repeatedly over the entire fretboard.

An effective exercise for learning the blues scale and playing it together with other musicians is moving between each of its scale shapes, practicing playing them both ascending and descending orders. This will familiarize yourself with playing together as well as help develop rhythm and precision – both essential skills for any guitarist.


The blues scale is an effective and useful scale to use for playing any chord in E minor, especially due to its composition using intervals from minor pentatonic scale with one extra blue note thrown in for good measure.

A blue note refers to either b3 or b5 of the natural minor scale and adds bluesy flavor by modulating this scale with tension and dissonance – essential elements when playing over blues chord progressions.

Start learning the blues scale today by looking at these e minor blues scale guitar chord diagrams – these display all six notes plus the octave of the tonic note arranged fretted onto your guitar neck, ready to be played by index and middle fingers or (for chords that span multiple frets) even pinky fingers!

As can be seen from this lesson, chords are constructed using each of the scale fingerings that we studied in this lesson. It’s essential that you practice these fingerings on your own until they become part of your routine; to help with this endeavor, put on an F7 backing track and try playing solo lines using these fingerings.

Once you feel confident with these fingerings, try creating some short licks using the E Minor Blues Scale. Make sure to include ascending and descending runs of chromatic notes; these will add extra tension to your playing.

Note that when including any chromatic notes in your playing, make sure they are phrased correctly as this can have a dramatic impact on how they sound. Avoid playing long ascending and descending runs that sound monotonous – instead use long, medium and short notes for maximum musical effect!