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!

In fact, the best blues musicians know how to soulfully mix jazz and blues together in their playing.

New to The Blues Scale?

Why not take three minutes and watch this blues piano tutorial video 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 Piano

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?

Of course the simplest place to start using the blues scale is over the basic 12 bar blues. This is a first step. Of course, just playing over the 3 basic blues chords is just scratching the surface.

The real magic happens when you can use blues scale over more chord progressions.

Yes, you’ll hear a lot of blues musicians just playing the basic 3 chords.

blues scale pianoBut, you’ll also hear great players like B.B. King, Ray Charles, & Dr. John using chord progressions in their music that are actually very jazz influenced.

The Best Can Go back And Forth

A lot of people think it takes a long time to learn how to use jazz to take their blues to the next level. That’s not true in the least.

If you have the right tools you can make significant progress in a very short period of time.

Fortunately, there is a unique system that shows you how.  

More Blues Piano Lessons

how to play blues pianoIf you want to learn about how to play blues piano like the Chicago Blues masters you can check out my whole instructional DVD on how to play Chicago style blues piano.

We also have a unique program that shows you how you can use blues to easily improvise over the best jazz songs in the world.

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 Blues Scale Piano 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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  • Konstantin

    Hello Steve,

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

  • Rico

    excellent lesson Steve. Going to the piano right now.

  • 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

    • 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.

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

    • David FreshDee

      Thanks a lot. Very helpfull.

      • 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 !

  • 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

    • 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!

  • ARNIE

    VERY GOOD THANKS

  • Ryan

    What’s the progression? Killer soloing btw!

  • sammy

    so if i play f sharp, and i need this code how can i play there in f sharp