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Home > Scales

Learn Guitar Scales & Scale Theory - See the Whole Picture

Welcome! I encourage you to learn guitar scales in a way that allows you to apply them to your own music.

Most guitar lesson sites show you a few scale patterns, but this knowledge is pretty useless without understanding how these scales work over chords.

In the lessons below, you'll learn how to connect scales to the music you're accompanying.

You'll find the more scales you learn, the more creative options you'll have when crafting that perfect guitar solo.

If you want to learn scales to develop your soloing ability, think of this section as the theory side of lead guitar, whereas the lead section on this site looks at the physical application of that theory. In other words, knowing your scales will allow you to apply the lead techniques you learn to their full potential.


Featured Guitar Scales Lesson

Ok, so you know a few scale patterns, but you're stuck in a rut wandering up and down the scale aimlessly (sound familiar?). This video shows you the one crucial key to extracting meaningful, melodic phrases out of scales...

featured guitar scales video lesson


Learn Guitar Scales

small chevron FAQ  Do I Need to Learn Guitar Scales?  As you're already here, I assume you're interested in learning scales anyway, but if there's any doubt, this article will go through some of the benefits of spending time on them.

small chevron Guitar Scale Beginners  The very basics of what scales are and where they come from.

small chevron The Major Scale  The most important guitar scale you will learn. The major scale is the most referenced scale in western music. Knowledge of other scales comes easier when you know this scale, so make it a priority. small chevron Natural Minor Scale  A widely used scale in minor key progressions, natural minor is another staple guitar scale to learn. The lesson shows you its key tones, passing tones and how to use it over chords. Includes minor key backing tracks. small chevron Modes of the Major Scale  Series which looks at the 7 modes of the major scale, from Ionian to Locrian (yes they have weird names - goes back a long way). Each lesson takes you through the individual "flavour" and characteristics of each mode, with jam tracks to help you experiment with your own ideas. Finally, we pull it all together and delve deeper into modal theory.
small chevron Pentatonic Scales  Are very simple: just 5 tones. This series will introduce you to the minor, major and other pentatonic scales, including a lesson on combining minor and major pentatonic.
small chevron Blues Scales  Learn the scales used in blues soloing, building on the pentatonic foundations from above. See also
small chevron Harmonic Minor Scale  A slight alteration of the natural minor scale from earlier. In this series, we'll learn when harmonic minor is typically used along with the fingerings, patterns and all that good stuff. small chevron Phrygian Dominant Scale  Sometimes called the Spanish Gypsy scale and a staple scale in flamenco and non-western musical traditions. However, it's become a favourite in rock and heavy metal and makes frequent appearences in "alternative" western genres. small chevron Melodic Minor Scale  Melodic minor is a nice alternative to harmonic minor, being only one interval difference, and is used interchangeably as a result. It's important to understand how the natural 6th tone gives this scale its unique flavour over chords and progressions. small chevron Lydian Dominant  The 4th mode of melodic minor and a very reliable scale for soloing over those "outside" dominant 7th chords. It's also very easy to extract some beautiful harmony from this scale. A worthy addition to your repertoire.

small chevron Metal Scales  A look at the more exotic scales used commonly in heavy metal music with backing tracks to try out your own ideas. Although the focus is on heavy metal, these scales will work in other genres and contexts, so keep that in mind.

small chevron Jazz Scales  In depth library of commonly used scales in jazz music and the chords they work over. Like the metal scales lesson, the scales featured will work in other styles of music, but many of them have helped shape the distinctive sound of jazz.



Guitar Scales Help

small chevron Major and Minor Scale Basics  Answers the question "what makes a scale major or minor?". This lesson shows you how to identify a scale's intervals to determine whether it can be played over major or minor chords/progressions.

small chevron Scale Patterns  Gives you a clear process for dominating the fretboard for any given scale. Follow this process for every scale you learn and the rewards will be immeasurable.

small chevron Single String Scales  Learn how to apply scales across single strings in any key to give your solos more speed, fluidity and reach, from one end of the neck to the other.

small chevron How to Practice Scales  Learn how to build up your speed and improve timing with picking around the scale patterns you learn. This series gives you a step by step process for practicing scales and developing good technique. small chevron Scale Exercises  Focuses on the physical side of scale navigation. Give your fingers the workout they need and develop your speed and timing with this series of exercises, including runs, intervals and string skipping. ^ Back to Top

Guitar Scale Questions

Ask Your Guitar Scale Related Question Here...

This is where you can ask any question regarding guitar scales and scale theory.

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Guitar Scale Questions From Other Visitors

Click below to see submissions from other guitarists. Feel free to comment on the answers provided and help expand the topic...

Scales over Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd 
I have been playing guitar for 15+ years and your teaching about modes just opened up something that you just can't imagine! This question or scenario …

Funk Guitar Scales and Licks 
For the song Sex Machine in E7/9 which scales would you use and can you show how to apply them in audio examples? Generally when playing quick in …

Learning Scales Using CAGED 
The CAGED method has me confused. One teacher/web site will call the C-shape position "1" while another will call the E-shape position "1". Should …

General Approach to Soloing 
I'm Angelo from Venice! Here comes my question about your general approach to soloing in a major key e.g. "Blowin in the Wind" in G – C – D - Em: I …

Scales for Soloing over Sweet Home Alabama 
Hi, I'm Jean from Paris and really appreciate your lessons! My question: I'm rather confused as to which scale(s) I should apply over "Sweet Home …

Solo Improvisation Over Chord Progressions 
When I improvise or noodle on the guitar without a chord progression and tempo/drum beat behind it, I can express myself without bothering what I am playing …

Minor Pentatonic Over Major Chords 
Can I use minor pentatonic to solo over major chords and progressions? And if yes what is the relationship between the key and the scale that I should …

Same Scales for Major and Minor Key Blues? 
Hi Mike, I am puzzled as to whether you use the same scales or play the same lead if you play blues in a major progression e.g. A7 - D7 - E7 or in a …

Scales Over Minor Key Progressions 
If I am soloing over the progression Am G F Em then I can use the A natural minor scale and also I can use scales with respective chord changes. My …

Nonchord Tones and Passing Notes 
What are the passing notes for each mode - Dorian, phrygian, lydian, mixolydian, and aeolian? Answer Great question. First, for those who aren't sure …

Playing Minor Pentatonic Over Chord Progressions 
When I am building a solo, say a blues solo in the key of A (e.g. A minor pentatonic?), do I play in the A scale over the whole progression or do I switch …

One Scale Per Key vs One Scale Per Chord 
I am having trouble getting this question framed properly. When I am building a solo, say an A minor blues solo (A minor pentatonic), do I play in the …

Scale starting and ending notes 
Firstly thanks for the lessons - it's refreshing to have someone explain things clearly! My question is that I've learnt various scales and I'm trying …

Finding Scales in C Standard Tuning 
I tune my Guitar to C Standard (all strings down 2 whole notes) from low to high: C F A# D# G C Unfortunately, I did not take the time to learn the …

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