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How to Play the Blues Scale on Bass Guitar

The six-note blues scale is one of the most commonly used scales in soloing. Consequently, learning how to play the blues scale on bass guitar is essential. The blues scale is so popular because it’s comfortable to play, it’s easy to move around, and it sounds great.

When you create a solo with the blues scale, it’s going to sound bluesy. Let your ears be the judge of which notes you can linger on and which notes you should use as passing tones (unaccented notes that connect two strong notes). Just like salt for the soup: When you add the right amount, it’s delicious; when you use too much, you spoil it.

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This figure shows blues-scale pattern. What follows gives you a more step-by-step approach to getting the blues scale under your fingers.

  1. Press the index finger of your left hand down on the root of the chord (on the E string) and play the note.

    You need three strings to complete the blues scale. In this case, start on the E string.

  2. Press your pinkie down on the same string and play the note.

    This note is a flat 3 (b3); it’s one of the blue (slightly dissonant) notes.

  3. Press your index finger down on the next higher string and play the note.

    This note is a 4; it sounds fairly neutral.

  4. Press your middle finger down on the same string and play the note.

    This note is a sharp 4 (#4); it’s another blue note.

  5. Press your ring finger down on the same string and play the note.

    This note is a 5; it’s present in almost all chords.

  6. Press your index finger down on the next higher string and play the note.

    This note is a flat 7 (b7); it’s usually a cool choice.

  7. Press your ring finger down on the same string and play the note.

    This note is your octave; you’ve arrived at the root again.

To give you an idea of what you can do with this six-note blues scale, the following figure shows you some blues licks you can practice. Unfortunately, we can only provide the notes; you have to provide the funk.

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Click here to download and print these licks.

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