On this page you’ll find a multitude of guitar scales suitable for improvisation, songwriting and building up finger speed / dexterity.
The fret diagrams can be used to play the scales all over the guitar neck.
Each guitar scale is also shown in notation / tab with a root note of C.
You can follow the links or click on the images to see more scale diagrams, scale tabs and information about each scale.
Page Index: Use The Links Below To Jump Straight To The Guitar Scale You Need!
- Pentatonic Minor Scale
- Pentatonic Major Scale
- Blues Scale
- Major Scale (Ionian Modal Scale)
- Natural Minor Scale (Aeolian Modal Scale)
- Dorian Modal Scale
- Mixolydian Modal Scale
- Phrygian Modal Scale
- Lydian Modal Scale
- Locrian Modal Scale
- Harmonic Minor Scale
- Phrygian Dominant Scale
- Jazz Minor Scale
- Double Harmonic Scale
- Whole Tone Scale
- Altered Scale
- Diminished Scale
- Lydian Augmented Scale
- Further Information On Guitar Scales
- Want every guitar scale you’re ever likely to need at your fingertips? Download our awesome Guitar Scales Book … or get your copy from Amazon!
Introduction to Guitar Scales
The first section of this page contains guitar scales commonly used by lead guitarists, including the pentatonic, blues, major and minor scales.
All of the scales in this section are shown in tab and fret diagram form.
The second part features guitar scales that are less commonly used. Experiment with these to introduce interesting and original sounds to your solos.
Learn Guitar Scales Faster!
- Want scale and arpeggio information at your fingertips? Download our printable Guitar Scales Chart Book.
- Practice improvising with guitar scales and modes with our MP3 Guitar Scales Backing Tracks and Guitar Modes Backing Tracks.
We hope that you enjoy playing the scales on this page. If you find this page useful, please ‘like’ it/ share it on social media, tweet about it or link to it! Enjoy!
If you play bass, check out the Bass Scales page.
Movable 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.
Commonly-Used Guitar Scales
In this section, you’ll find a selection of the most commonly-used guitar scales.
Pentatonic Minor Scale
The pentatonic minor scale is probably the most widely-used guitar scale. Virtually every guitarist – of every musical style – will have used it at some point in their solos.
The pentatonic scale should be one of the first guitar scales a beginner guitarist learns.
- Want to play pentatonic scales all over the neck? You’ll find multiple fretboard diagrams and tabs for playing both minor and major pentatonic scales here: Pentatonic Scale On Guitar: The Ultimate Guide
Pentatonic Major Scale
The major pentatonic scale 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.
Extremely widely used, and not just in blues music. The blues scale is basically the same scale as a pentatonic minor, but with an additional note – the flattened fifth … otherwise known as the ‘blues note‘.
- Play blues in every fretboard position! You’ll find multiple fret diagrams and further information on the blues scale here: Blues Scale Guitar.
Major / Ionian Guitar Scales
The major scale produces a clear and simple sound. If you’re thinking modally, the major scale can also be called Ionian modal scale; it’s exactly the same scale. Think of it as learning two scales in one!
It may sound simple, but the major scale is the start point for virtually every other scale – and for western music harmony in general! You’ll need to know the major scale intimately if you want to study music theory and modal scales!
- Learn to play the major scale all over the neck here: Major Scale Guitar.
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.
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.
- Find out how to play this beautiful-sounding scale all over the guitar neck: Dorian Scale Guitar.
- Learn more about modes here: Guitar Modes.
- For more information about soloing with Dorian scales, see: Improvisation With The Dorian Scale.
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.
More Awesome Guitar Scales
This section contains scales that aren’t as widely-used as those in the previous section. Here you’ll find scales that will give your solos an original sound that will really make you stand out from the crowd!
- You can see more exotic scales here: Exotic Guitar Scales. Of course, you can download our Guitar Scale Chart Book to have access to every guitar scale you’ll ever be likely to need – at your fingertips! See sample pages here: Guitar Scale Chart Book.
Phrygian Modal Scale
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.
Lydian Modal Scale
The sharpened fourth in a Lydian modal scale produces a unique sound mainly used by jazz and fusion guitarists.
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).
Harmonic Minor Scale
The harmonic minor scale was used to harmonise minor melodies in classical music. It is often utilized by jazz and metal players, and also in flamenco music.
- For more information visit: Harmonic Minor Scale Guitar.
Phrygian Dominant Scale
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 Spanish and Middle Eastern music.]
The Phrygian dominant is one of several guitar scales favoured by metal guitarists wanting to inject an exotic sound into their solos!
This scale can also be thought of as the fifth mode of a harmonic minor scale.
- For further information, visit: Phrygian Dominant Scale.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- You’ll find more information on this weird and wonderful scale here: altered scale.
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 this page: Diminished Scale Guitar for more information.
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.
Further Information On Guitar Scales
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 so 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.
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.
For more guitar scale information, check out the following pages:
- Metal Guitar Scales
- Jazz Guitar Scales
- Spanish Guitar Scales
- Arabic Guitar Scales
- Japanese Scales
- Exotic Scales
- Gypsy Scale
- Diminished Scale
- Bebop Scale
- Enigmatic Scale
For more information on musical scales, wikipedia is your friend – but don’t take everything you find there as gospel.
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Enjoy the guitar scales on this page and happy jamming!