Guitar Scales

Guitarists learn guitar scales for three main reasons: lead improvisation, practice and composition. On this page you will find a multitude of scales suitable for all of these purposes.

Guitar Scales Complete Reference

The first part of this page contains guitar scales commonly used by lead guitarists, including the pentatonic, blues, major and minor scales. All of these are shown here in tab and fret diagram form.

The next part features many other, less common, guitar scales. Experiment with these to introduce interesting and original sounds to your solos.

You can follow the links for further information about most of the guitar scales on this page. You will also find diagrams that can be used to play the scales all over the guitar neck.

We hope that you enjoy playing the scales on this page. If you find this page useful, please ‘like’ it, tweet about it or link to it! Enjoy!


If you play bass, check out the Bass Scales page.

Scale Diagrams

All of the scales on this page are presented in fret diagram form. These show ‘shapes’ that can be moved up and down the fretboard in order to play the scale in any key.

The root notes of each scale are represented by the white circles. Two shapes are shown for each scale – allowing you to play the scale in two places on the guitar neck.

Pentatonic Minor Scale

The pentatonic minor scale is probably the most widely used of all guitar scales. It is used by practically every lead guitarist in every musical style. The pentatonic scale should be among the first guitar scales a beginner guitarist learns. For more information see: Pentatonic Scale Guitar.

Pentatonic Minor Scale Tab

Pentatonic Minor Scale Tab

Pentatonic Minor Guitar Scales

Pentatonic Minor Scale Diagrams

Pentatonic Major Scales

A widely-used guitar scale that produces a clear, melodic sound – ideal for soloing over major chord sequences. Often used in country and rock music. More information on pentatonic major scales can be found here: Pentatonic Scale Guitar.

Pentatonic Major Scale Guitar Tab

Pentatonic Major Scale Guitar Tab

Pentatonic Major Guitar Diagrams

Pentatonic Major Diagrams

Blues Scale

Extremely widely used, and not just in blues music. The blues scale is the same scale as a pentatonic minor, but with an additional note – the flattened fifth, or ‘blues’ note. More information on this scale can be found here: Blues Scale Guitar.

Blues Scale Tab

Blues Scale Tab

Blues Scale Diagrams

Blues Scale Diagrams

Major / Ionian Scales For Guitar

The major scale produces a clear and simple sound. The Ionian modal scale is the same scale but with a different name. For more information, see: Major Scale Guitar.

Major / Ionian Scale Tab

Major / Ionian Scale Tab

Major Guitar Scales Diagrams

Major Guitar Scales Diagrams

Learn Guitar Scales

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Natural Minor / Aeolian Guitar Scales

Natural minor scales and Aeolian scales are the same guitar scales but with different names. Use them to solo over minor chord sequences. For more diagrams and information visit: Guitar Modes.

Natural Minor / Aeolian Scale Tab

Natural Minor / Aeolian Scale Tab

Natural Minor Scale Diagrams

Natural Minor Scale Diagrams

Dorian Modal Scale

The Dorian modal scale is popular in jazz, often being used to solo over minor seventh chords. It is also used in many other styles of music, including folk and modal jazz. The Dorian scale is built from the second degree of a major scale. For more information about modes visit: Guitar Modes. For more information about soloing with Dorian scales, see: Improvisation With The Dorian Scale.

Dorian Scale Guitar Tab

Dorian Scale Guitar Tab

Dorian Scale Diagram

Dorian Scale Diagram

Mixolydian Modal Scale

Mixolydian scales are much used in blues and jazz. They are often used to improvise over dominant seventh chords. Learn more about how to improvise with a Mixolydian scale here: Improvisation With Mixolydian Scale. For more ways to play a Mixolydian scale, visit: Mixolydian Scale Guitar.

Mixolydian Scale Tab

Mixolydian Scale Tab

Mixolydian Guitar Scales Diagrams

Mixolydian Guitar Scales Diagrams

Other Scales

More Modal Guitar Scales – The Phrygian, Lydian & Locrian Scales

The Phrygian scale is the third mode of a major scale. It produces a minor sound, having a flat third, and the semitone interval between its first two notes gives it a Spanish / Arabic sound. As well as being used in Spanish and Flamenco music, it is also used in rock and metal. For more information visit: Phrygian Scale Guitar.

Phrygian Scale For Guitar

Phrygian Scale For Guitar

Lydian Modal Scale

The sharpened fourth in a Lydian modal scale produces a unique sound mainly used by jazz and fusion guitarists.

Lydian Scale Diagram

Lydian Scale Diagram

Locrian Scale For Guitar

Locrian modal scales produce a strange, somewhat ambiguous sound. They are formed from the seventh degree of a major scale. They are one of the few guitar scales that fit over minor seventh flat 5 chords (m7b5).

Locrian Guitar Scales Diagrams

Locrian Guitar Scales Diagrams

Harmonic Minor Guitar Scales

The harmonic minor scale was used to harmonise minor melodies in classical music. It is often utilised by jazz and metal players, and also in flamenco music. For more information visit: Harmonic Minor Scale Guitar.

Harmonic Minor Scale Diagrams

Harmonic Minor Scale Diagrams

Phrygian Dominant

The phrygian dominant scale has several other names – it also goes by the name of the ‘Freygish’ or ‘Spanish Gypsy’ scale. It is a very characterful scale, suggestive of eastern music. It can also be thought of as the fifth mode of a harmonic minor scale. for further information, visit: Phrygian Dominant Scale.

Phrygian Dominant Scale For Guitar

Phrygian Dominant Scale For Guitar

Jazz Minor

The jazz minor scale is sometimes known in rock and jazz as the melodic minor, or jazz melodic minor. It produces interesting, jazz-like sounds over minor chords. For more information on this scale, visit: Jazz Minor Scale.

Jazz Minor Guitar Scales Diagram

Jazz Minor Guitar Scales Diagram

Double Harmonic Guitar Scales

The double harmonic guitar scale is also known as the Arabic scale. (It is one of several different scales all also called an Arabic scale.) Use it to introduce an ‘Eastern’ sound into your playing.

Double Harmonic Diagrams

Double Harmonic Diagrams

Whole Tone

The whole tone scale produces an unsettling, ambiguous sound. It is used by jazz guitarists to improvise over dominant chords as it produces jazzy-sounding dissonances or tensions. Every note in a whole tone scale is a tone apart, therefore each one can be considered to be the root. More information here: Whole Tone Scale Guitar.

Whole Tone Diagram

Whole Tone Diagram

Altered Scale

The altered scale is the same as a jazz minor scale, but starting and ending on the seventh degree of that scale. When played over dominant chords it produces every possible altered note, which is why it is much used in jazz music. Click for more altered scale information.

Altered Guitar Scale Diagrams

Altered Guitar Scale Diagrams

Diminished Guitar Scales

The intervals between the notes of a diminished scale alternate between whole and half steps. Diminished scales are octatonic – they have eight notes before reaching the octave. Diminished scales can be used to solo over diminished chords. They can also be used to solo over dominant chords, by playing the scale with the root a half-step higher than the chord. The resulting tensions create jazzy sounding lines. See Diminished Scale Guitar for more information.

Diminished Scales For Guitar

Diminished Scales For Guitar

Lydian Augmented

The Lydian augmented scale is a Lydian scale with a raised fifth. It can be used to create interesting lines over augmented chords. The scale can also be used to create tension filled lines over other altered chords by using the scale with its root a major third above the root of the chord.

Lydian Augmented Guitar Scales

Lydian Augmented Guitar Scales

Further Information

Fingering

There is often more than one way to play these scale shapes. Experiment to find the fingering that works best for you.

Guitar Scales Diagrams

Guitarists are lucky because just one scale shape can be used to play that scale in any key. All the guitarist needs to do is to move the shape to the right fret. This is why guitar scale diagrams are very useful. Scale diagrams show us the ‘shapes’ that the scales make on the fretboard. If the shape of a scale is learned for a particular scale, then that same shape can be played elsewhere on the fretboard to produce the same type of scale in a different key.

For example, if you know where your fingers should go (i.e. the scale ‘shape’ as shown on a scale diagram) to play a G major scale starting on the third fret of the sixth string, you could play a C major scale at the eighth fret using the same shape. Just move your hand up (closer to you) five frets.

Why More Than One Shape For Each Scale?

It is often beneficial to learn more than one way of playing a particular scale. This will enable you to play solos without having to frequently change position on the neck. For example, if you are playing an E minor scale at the seventh fret, and you then wanted to play a C major scale, you would simply play the major scale shape that starts at the eighth fret. If you only knew a major scale shape that started on the fifth string, you would have to move to the third (or fifteenth) fret to play a C major scale.

Conclusion

We hope that you have found this collection of guitar scales useful. Explore the links for further information about each scale and build up your scale vocabulary. You don’t have to learn every scale in every position. Simply use the scales that you like and build up more scale knowledge as and when you need it.

Many players prefer to think ‘vertically’ rather than thinking in terms of scales. See How To Play Jazz Guitar for more information on this way of thinking. For more information on musical scales, wikipedia is your friend – but don’t take everything you find there as gospel.

We want Guitar Command to be the best guitar scales reference site on the web. Please bookmark this page and tell your friends / link to this page if you found it useful. We’d also really like to hear what you think in the comments below.

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Enjoy the guitar scales on this page and happy jamming!



10 Comments


10 Responses to Guitar Scales

  1. jan says:

    Wow! Awesome page. Thank you from a guitar newcomer!

  2. rad says:

    wow, such a lot of information. thank you!

  3. slowhandy says:

    been using blues scales for 30 years. can’t teach and old dog new tricks!

  4. Eric Claptout says:

    Very good resource. Thankyou!

  5. Tim says:

    Very good site.

  6. james says:

    Thanks, good to have all the scales in one place. I keep coming back!

  7. patrick says:

    wow, wat a reservoir of scales all in 1 place.tnx man.i aprec8t.

  8. dilum says:

    excellent service

  9. Ian says:

    Excellent. Great help and well presented.

    Thank you

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