Watch this video between 00:00 and 2:33.

All the single notes he plays seems to belong to the blues scale. Yet, there are three notes he plays during those first 2 minutes and a half that don't belong within blues scale and yet sound Bluesy. Can anyone therefore explain which other scale he is picking from?

The specific three notes I'm referring to are:

  • String 3 1st Fret (Played at 1:32 and again at 2:19)
  • String 2 2nd Fret (Played at 2:26)
  • String 1 4th Fret (Played at 2:27)

My only explanation are that they are "snippets" from the Dorian mode of the Major scale as I have read the Dorian mode is the only other Bluesy sounding scale.

  • 1
    If you're going to discuss music theory, you really have to be able to name notes in a better way than "String 3 1st Fret". The people who can help you know the language, you should too! All I'll say for now is that there are several 'Blues scales', and you are allowed to use other notes as well in a Blues.
    – Laurence
    Nov 16, 2017 at 21:18
  • 1
    Fyi: The "blues scale" is not a meaningful or useful way to look at blues music
    – Some_Guy
    Nov 16, 2017 at 21:38
  • @Some_Guy, that might be your opinion, but it seems too extreme to be a mainstream view that is widely held. At the very least, I know I'm not wrong in stating that an alternative view exists. Many people think the blues scale provides a meaningful and useful way to look at blues music. It may not be the only way to look at blues music (I doubt many people think that), but in certain contexts its usefulness is quite high. (At least, that's what I think.)
    – jdjazz
    Nov 16, 2017 at 21:45
  • @Some_Guy - you're half right. A meaningful or useful way to look at blues music is through the "blues scales"
    – Tim
    Nov 16, 2017 at 22:27
  • The notes you've mentioned (G# and C#) appear on Emaj blues scale (E F# G G# B C#), which is related to C#min. The usual blues scale is constructed from the minor scale, removing 2nd and 6th notes and adding a 5th diminished. As each minor key have its related major key (go up a minor third to find it), you can have a major blues scale for a given key looking at the notes of its relative minor blues scale. Nov 17, 2017 at 15:44

1 Answer 1


There are two blues scales - two sets of notes which are usually used to play blues. The minor blues, which far more people seem to know, and the major blues.

Those notes are from the major blues scale/s and tend to sweeten things up a little, all of them being major thirds of the chords used in blues.

Haven't listened, but the G# note 1,4 and 3,1 (in your language!) are maj 3s of E, while 2,2 is maj 3 of A.

Good blues players will frequently mix the two sets of notes, which adds a heck of a lot more colour and interest to their playing. That maj 3 sounds good when the min 3 is played first, then bent up into the maj 3.

  • I just figured out he also plays string 2 1st fret which doesn't belong to the major blues scale (@2:25) either.
    – Dean P
    Nov 19, 2017 at 10:36
  • At that point, it's over an A7 chord, so that note being a m3 in A is expected - and it moves straight up to the M3 of A (2,2) to play a note from the maj. blues. So, min. to maj. Think along the lines that with A blues and A min. blues, there are 9 notes available. Or another way - try not to use Bb, Gb and Ab... But the 9 work best over A, rather than D and E.
    – Tim
    Nov 19, 2017 at 11:16

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