Blues Lesson 2

Basic Soloing : Using the Minor Pentatonic Scale


In Lesson 1, we covered the 12-bar blues structure. You should work hard on getting to know the 12-bar blues form because it is the root of most all blues music. In this lesson, we are going to learn about soloing over the 12-bar blues progression. To start out, we will be concentrating on using one scale pattern. This pattern is shown below:

We call this a minor pentatonic scale. The word pentatonic means a five note scale. The scale above, although not obvious to the untrained eye, is only a five note scale. It contains the five notes

a - c - d - e - g 

that are spread out over two octaves. This is why it looks like it has more notes than it really does.


Learning to use the Pentatonic Scale

The first step to learning how to use a scale is to learn the scale. Practice the above scale using the following methods:

  1. Begin on the root note (a), play to the highest note in the pattern (c) and the return and stop on the root note (a).
  2. Begin on the highest note in the pattern (c), play to the lowest note (a) and then return and stop on the highest note.
  3. Play a three note sequence in the pattern.
  4. Play a four note sequence in the pattern.

Using the Minor Pentatonic Scale Over a 12-Bar Blues

Now is when the fun begins. First, try recording a 12-bar blues progression onto a tape (or using one of these available midi files) so that you have something to play the scale against. Now, try playing the scale with the backing music going.