The Blues Scale For Piano: A Simple Guide

blues scale pianoIf you want to learn how to play the the blues scale on piano you’ve come to the right place!

This scale can add a lot of soulfulness and richness to your piano playing.

You can hear the blues scale used everywhere and it’s very simple and easy to learn!

Even though it’s called the blues scale it’s not just used in blues music. It can be used in jazz, country, pop, latin, funk, reggae, R&B, and many other great styles of music!

New to The Blues Scale?

Why not take three minutes and watch the video lesson on the blues scale for piano. It’ll quickly cover the basics:

Now lets take a look at some additional tips.

Notation For The G Blues Scale

Here’s the notation for the scale that’s used in the video above. Make sure you scroll down for many more tips on how to build the scale.

g blues scale piano

 

 

Music Theory For The Blues Scale

The blues scale is actually a 6 note scale. The scale is built will scale degrees 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7, and 1 again.

You can easily play this scale in any key by using the major scale as your starting point.

Here’s how to get started easily:

First, play your major scale in whatever key you’re in. From there you can find the blues scale in whatever key you’re in by just following  these easy steps:

  • Move your 3rd note in the major scale down a half step to find the b3.
  • Move your 5th note in the major scale down a half step to find the b5
  • Move your 7th note in the major scale down a half step to find the b7.
  • The rest of the notes (1,4, and 5) are the same pitches you would find in the major scale.

(If you’re new to the major scale I highly recommend you also check out these lessons on major jazz scales and the major bebop scale.)

Once you learn the blues scale practice playing it across your whole instrument. You’ll want to get comfortable with the fingering as well as the sound.

Where Can I Use This Scale?

If you want to jam with the blues scale a bit I recommend you check out this minor jazz scales article.

It has a free minor chord jam track at the end of the article. You can practice playing blues scale on top of it. It will sound great on the track and it will be fun too! :)

More Blues Piano Lessons

how to play blues pianoIf you want to learn more about playing blues piano you can check out this lesson on the jazz blues chord progression or my whole instructional DVD on how to play blues piano.

I’ll also be releasing a new video lesson in a few days where I teach you how to use the blues scale over a jazz standard. Stay tuned!

Update: Here is the new blues scale over a jazz standard lesson.

The Notes in all 12 keys

Ok, let me help you get started playing this scale in all 12 keys. Here’s a quick cheat sheet for you.

Please keep this in mind when learning these scales:

  • Some of these scales will technically have a double flat. For ease of use and quick playing I’ll just call them by their simpler enharmonic names. :)
  • For example, in Db the b5 is Abb. I’ll just call it G!
  • I’ll also call all Fb’s ‘E’ and all Cb’s ‘B’.

Update: I’ve had a lot of people email and leave comments in the last couple days asking for some fingerings suggestions.

I included the right hand fingering for all the scales. Please keep 3 things in mind when referring to them.

1. These are merely suggestions. Everybody’s hands are shaped differently so use these as a starting point and adjust accordingly.

2. In some of the black keys the blues scale is not the most pianistic scale. In other words it doesn’t fit super easily under the hands.

Don’t let this stop you though! If you practice and repeat enough you can make it feel natural!

3. These are the fingerings if you were going to be playing multiple octave scales.

The Scale Guide With Fingering Suggestions

Key of C: C, Eb, F, Gb, G, Bb, C

Fingering:  1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 1

Key of Db: Db, E, Gb, G, Ab, B, Db

Fingering:  2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1

Key of D: D, F, G, Ab, A, C, D

Fingering:  3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

Key of Eb: Eb, Gb, Ab, A, Bb, Db, Eb

Fingering: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1

Key of E: E, G, A, Bb, B, D, E

Fingering:  3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

Key of F: F, Ab, Bb, B, C, Eb, F

Fingering: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1

Key of Gb: Gb, A, B, C, Db, E, Gb

Fingering: 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2

Key of G: G, Bb, C, Db, D, F, G

Fingering:  1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 1

Key of Ab: Ab, B, Db, D, Eb, Gb, Ab

Fingering: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1

Key of A: A, C, D, Eb, E, G, A

Fingering:  3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

Key of Bb: Bb, Db, Eb, E, F, Ab, Bb

Fingering:  1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1

Key of B: B, D, E, F, F#, A, B

Fingering:  2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2

Have fun practicing and remember to check back for the next lesson in the series!!

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Steve Nixon is the proud owner of Freejazzlessons.com. He is a world touring jazz and blues keyboard player and educator.

Steve is the author of Premium Jazz Lessons Elite Membership (A comprehensive all-in-one online jazz piano course.)

He is also the author of the The Jazz Masters Method DVD (A study of 9 legendary jazz piano players).

If you are a blues piano fan you can also check out his popular Learn Blues Piano DVD Course.

His brand new course \”The Christmas Jazz Piano Super System\” will be released on Monday November 3rd, 2014.


 

  • Konstantin

    Hello Steve,

    Thanks for the lesson! I was wondering if you could give some advice on fingering, especially in “black” keys. Thanks!

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      I updated the article with the right hand fingerings in all 12 keys.

  • Rico

    excellent lesson Steve. Going to the piano right now.

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Thanks Rico. Let us know how it turns out :)

  • Jeffrey Todd Cohen

    Hate to burst your bubble, “Abstract Truth”, but the first two keys of your blues Scale Guide listed above, both have flaws. That is, they both have a missing step, naming merely six members, rather than the seven you have been telling students are required. Key of C is lacking the fifth (G natural), while key of Db is lacking the octave (Db). 
    Jeffrey Todd Cohen

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Fixed. Fortunately, my bubble wasn’t close to being burst :) That’s what happens sometimes when you type fast…lol. Thanks for the heads up Jeff.

  • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

    I’ve updated the article with the fingerings in all 12 keys

    • David FreshDee

      Thanks a lot. Very helpfull.

      • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

        No problem David. Glad you enjoyed the lesson :)

        • David FreshDee

          Just learned blues yesterday and it’s funny how fast one can start having fun playing it !

          I guess it’s one day to learn and a life to master !

          • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

            That’s an interesting perspective David and very well said. There’s always more to explore in music.

  • Jw5674

    dear steve,is it not better to end with fingering at a blue scale e.g C bluue scale if you go up and back an octave–like your demonstration-to end with a 5 finger (to go fluently back!);I like your lessons and I consider seriously later to commend your book/dvd;with kind regards..Jaap de vries-holland-

  • Eamonn

    Hey Steve,
    First off love your lessons, I am 18 and have been really trying to expand my horizons into jazz/blues lately from my classical training background and your website does wonders. Question: When playing the blues scale (in this case a minor blues) can it only be played over a minor chord progression or also a major chord progression as well? From my knowledge I am sure there are two blues scales; a major and minor (minor in this case being the most common. The major blues is like a major pentatonic with a minor third in addition. So I am just confused, which scales can be played over which progressions? Sorry to bother you and thanks in advance!
    -Eamonn

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Thanks Eamoon! Welcome to the community here. You can definitely play blues scale over a major chord progression if you phrase it properly.

  • Peter Bower

    Hey mate

    Do you have the left hand fingerings for the scales?
    Thanks heaps!