Jazz Guitar (ii)[ Minor Blues Scales & Major Pentatonic]

Minor Blue

Though it is only one note different from the Minor Pentatonic Scale, the Minor Blues Scale has a distinct sound that can help bring that bluesy Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell flavour to your jazz guitar lines and phrases.

You build a Minor Blues Scale by taking the notes of any Minor Pentatonic Scale and adding in a #4 note, or b5 depending on how you want to think of it. Either way, the added note appears between the 4 and 5 in the scale pattern.

This will produce the interval pattern:


Or in the key of C this would be:


Since it is very closely related to the Minor Pentatonic Scale, you can use the Minor Blues Scale to solo in the same fashion, over chords such as maj7, m7 and 7, or over whole key centers such as ii V I progression or jazz blues tunes.

To help you get started with this important and cool-sounding scale, here are a few one-octave fingerings that you can work on in the given key, as well as take to all 12 keys around the fretboard.

As is the case with any scale, you can also practice Minor Blues Scales in two octaves when working on them in the woodshed.

Once you have one or more of these shapes under your fingers, try putting on a backing track and soloing over that chord, such as C7, using the minor blues scale to build you lines.

From there, you can work on moving between the Minor Pentatonic and Minor Blues Scales over a backing track in order to hear how each of these melodic devices is similar yet different when applied to a soloing situation.

Major Pentatonic Scale

With the Minor Pentatonic and Minor Blues Scales under your belt you’re now ready to move on the major side of these scales by looking into the Major Pentatonic Scale.

This scale contains the major 3rd interval, which means that you can only use it to solo over chords that have a major 3rd in them, such as Maj7, 7th, Maj6, 13th chords and so forth.

The interval structure of the Major Pentatonic Scale is as such:


Or in the key of C these notes would be:


As you can see, there is no 7th of any kind in this scale, and that’s why you can use it over both maj7 and 7th based chords, as every note in the scale will fit over these chords and the absence of the 7th never fully defines the scale as sounding like a maj7 or 7th chord.

To help you get started with this scale, here are a few one-octave shapes that you can check out in the woodshed.

And here are a couple two-octave Major Pentatonic Scale shapes that you can work in the given key, as well as take them to all of the keys around the fretboard in your practice routine.

In order to get a handle on how this scale can be applied to a soloing situation, try soloing over a Cmaj7 chord then a C7 chord and use the C Major Pentatonic Scale to create lines over both of these chords.

This will allow your ears to come to terms with how one scale can be used to solo over two different chord qualities, allowing you to then take theses scales to a tune such as a Jazz Blues Chord Progression or Jazz Standard and apply this scale to any maj7 or 7th family chords in those progressions.