Guitar Scales – The Ultimate Online Reference: TAB, Notation & Patterns

Guitar scales in TAB, notation and fretboard pattern / diagram form. Use the scales on this page for improvisation, songwriting and building up finger speed / dexterity.

For each scale you’ll find:

  • Information about the scale and its potential uses
  • TAB for playing the scale in open position with a tonic note of C
  • A movable scale pattern for playing the scale with any tonic note
  • TAB for playing the scale in 2 octaves with a tonic note of C
  • TAB for playing the scale in 2 octaves with a tonic note of G
  • Links to additional patterns and TABs on Guitar Command

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Page Index: Use The Links Below To Jump Straight To The Guitar Scales You Need

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You can practice improvising with scales using our specially-produced backing tracks. Follow these links for info & sample tracks: Guitar Scales Backing Tracks and Guitar Modes Backing Tracks.


Introduction to Guitar Scales

We want this page to be the best guitar scales reference on the internet. If you have any questions then please feel free to ask in the comments section; we’d be happy to help! We also welcome any comments / suggestions you may have on how we can make this page even better!

The first section of this page contains guitar scales commonly used by lead guitarists, including the pentatonic, blues, major and minor scales.

The second part features guitar scales that are less commonly used. Experiment with these to introduce interesting and original sounds to your solos.

Movable Guitar 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 tonic notes of each scale (i.e. the ‘C’ notes in a C major scale, or the ‘G’ notes in a G pentatonic minor scale) are represented by green circles.

Additional patterns for many of the scales can be found by following the links located throughout the page.


Common Guitar Scales

In this section, you’ll find a selection of the most commonly-used guitar scales.

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Pentatonic Minor Scale

The pentatonic minor scale is probably the most widely-used guitar scale of all. Virtually every guitarist – of every musical style – will have used it in their solos at some point.

The pentatonic scale should be one of the first guitar scales a beginner guitarist learns.

1 Octave C Pentatonic Minor Guitar Scale TAB

Pentatonic Minor TAB 1 Octave C

Pentatonic Minor Scale Pattern

Pentatonic Minor Guitar Scale Pattern

Use the movable pattern above to play pentatonic minor scales with any tonic note. Examples are given below. Click on the diagram to see more fretboard patterns for this scale.

2 Octave C Pentatonic Minor TAB

C Pentatonic Minor Guitar Scale TAB 2 Octave

2 Octave G Pentatonic Minor TAB

C Pentatonic Minor Guitar Scale TAB 2 Octave

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Pentatonic Major Scale

The major pentatonic scale produces a clear, melodic sound – ideal for soloing over major chord sequences. This scale is often used in country and rock music.

1 Octave C Pentatonic Major Guitar Scale TAB

Pentatonic Major Scale Guitar Tab

Pentatonic Major Scale Pattern

Pentatonic Major Guitar Scale Pattern

Use the pattern above to play pentatonic major guitar scales with any tonic note. Examples are shown below. Click on the diagram or on the TABs to see more fretboard patterns for this scale.

2 Octave C Pentatonic Major TAB

2 Octave C Pentatonic Major TAB

2 Octave G Pentatonic Major TAB

2 Octave G Pentatonic Major TAB

Guitar Scales Chart
Guitar Command Scales Chart Book – A comprehensive guide to guitar scales.

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Blues Scale

The blues scale is essentially the same as a pentatonic minor scale, but with the addition of one extra note – the flattened, or diminished, fifth … otherwise known as the ‘blues note’. It’s this note that gives the scale its ‘bluesy’ sound.

You’ll hear the blues scale being used not just in blues music, but also in many other styles, including rock, metal and jazz.

  • Play blues in every fretboard position! You’ll find multiple fret diagrams and further information on the blues scale here: Blues Scale Guitar.

1 Octave C Blues Scale

C Blues Scale TAB 1 Octave

Blues Scale Pattern

Blues Scale Pattern

Use the movable pattern above to play blues guitar scales with any tonic note. Examples are given below. Click on the diagram or on the TABs to see more fretboard patterns for this scale.

2 Octave C Blues Scale TAB

C Blues Scale TAB 2 Octave

2 Octave G Blues Scale TAB

G Blues Scale TAB 2 Octave


Major / Ionian Guitar Scales

The major scale produces a clear and simple sound. If you’re thinking in terms of modes, the major scale can also be called the Ionian modal scale; it’s exactly the same scale. Think of it as learning two scales in one!

It may have a simple sound when played on its own, but the major scale is the starting 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!

Visit the following pages on Guitar Command for more major scale info:

1 Octave C Major Guitar Scale TAB

C Major Guitar Scale Open Position

Major Scale Pattern

The scale diagram below shows one way of playing a major scale. You can see more major scale patterns here: Major Scale Guitar

Major Scale Guitar Pattern

The pattern above can be used to play major scales with any tonic note. The TABs below show it being used to play C and G major scales.

2 Octave C Major Guitar Scale TAB

C Major Guitar Scale 2 Octaves

2 Octave G Major Guitar Scale TAB

G Major Guitar Scale 2 Octaves

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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.

Open Position 1 Octave C Natural Minor Scale TAB

Natural Minor Scale TAB 1 Octave C

Natural Minor Scale Pattern

Natural Minor Scale Pattern

The above pattern can be used to play natural minor scales with any tonic note. The TABs below show it being used to play C and G natural minor scales. Click on the scale diagram or TABs to see more information on this scale.

2 Octave C Natural Minor Scale TAB

Natural Minor Scale TAB 2 Octave C

2 Octave G Natural Minor Scale TAB

Natural Minor Scale TAB 2 Octave G

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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.

Open Position 1 Octave C Dorian Scale TAB

Dorian Scale TAB 1 Octave C

Dorian Scale Pattern

Dorian Scale Guitar Pattern

The above pattern can be used to play Dorian scales with any tonic note. The TABs below show it being used to play C and G Dorian scales.

2 Octave C Dorian Scale TAB

Dorian Scale TAB 2 Octave C

2 Octave G Dorian Scale TAB

Dorian Scale TAB 2 Octave G

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Mixolydian Modal Scale

The Mixolydian scale is often used to improvise over dominant seventh chords. It’s also used in traditional folk melodies. You can find out more about improvising with Mixolydian scales here: Improvisation With Mixolydian Scale.

Open Position 1 Octave C Mixolydian Scale TAB

Mixolydian Scale TAB C 1 Octave

Mixolydian Scale Pattern

Mixolydian Guitar Scale Pattern

The above pattern can be used to play mixolydian guitar scales with any tonic note. The TABs below show it being used to play C and G mixolydian scales.

2 Octave C Mixolydian Scale TAB

Mixolydian Scale TAB C 2 Octave

2 Octave G Mixolydian Scale TAB

Mixolydian Scale TAB G 2 Octave

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Less Common & Exotic 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!

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Phrygian Modal Scale

The Phrygian scale is the third mode of a major scale. Its minor third gives it a minor tonality, 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, the Phrygian scale is also used in rock and metal.

Open Position 1 Octave C Phrygian Scale TAB

Phrygian Scale TAB C 1 Octave

Phrygian Scale Pattern

Phrygian Guitar Scale PatternUse the movable pattern above to play this scale with any tonic note. Examples are given below. Click on the diagram or on the TABs to see more fretboard patterns.

2 Octave C Phrygian Scale TAB

Phrygian Scale TAB C 2 Octave

2 Octave G Phrygian Scale TAB

Phrygian Scale TAB G 2 Octave

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Lydian Modal Scale

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

Open Position 1 Octave C Lydian Scale TAB

C Lydian Scale TAB 1 Octave

Lydian Scale Pattern

Lydian Guitar Scale Pattern

Use the movable pattern above to play this scale with any tonic note. Examples are given below.

2 Octave C Lydian Scale TAB

C Lydian Scale TAB 2 Octave

 

2 Octave G Lydian Scale TAB

G Lydian Scale TAB 2 Octave

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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).

Open Position 1 Octave C Locrian Scale TAB

C Locrian Scale TAB 1 Octave

Locrian Scale Pattern

Locrian Guitar Scale Pattern

Use the movable pattern above to play this scale with any tonic note. Examples are given below.

2 Octave C Locrian Scale TAB

C Locrian Scale TAB 2 Octave

2 Octave G Locrian Scale TAB

G Locrian Scale TAB 2 Octave

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Harmonic Minor Scale

The harmonic minor scale is used to harmonize minor melodies in classical music – hence the name. Today it is often utilized by jazz and metal players, and also in flamenco music. Try using it over a minor chord sequence – you might find yourself coming up with some Bach or Vivaldi-esque lines!

Open Position 1 Octave C Harmonic Minor Scale TAB

C Harmonic Minor Scale TAB 1 Octave

Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern

Harmonic Minor Guitar Scale Pattern

Use the movable pattern above to play this scale with any tonic note. Examples are given below. Click on the diagram or on the TABs to see more fretboard patterns.

2 Octave C Harmonic Minor Scale TAB

C Harmonic Minor Scale TAB 2 Octave

2 Octave G Harmonic Minor Scale TAB

G Harmonic Minor Scale TAB 2 Octave

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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 favored 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.

Open Position 1 Octave C Phrygian Dominant Scale TAB

C Phrygian Dominant Scale TAB 1 Octave

Phrygian Dominant Scale Pattern

Phrygian Dominant Guitar Scale Pattern

Use the movable pattern above to play this scale with any tonic note. Examples are given below. Click on the diagram or on the TABs to see more fretboard patterns.

2 Octave C Phrygian Dominant Scale TAB

C Phrygian Dominant Scale TAB 2 Octave

2 Octave G Phrygian Dominant Scale TAB

G Phrygian Dominant Scale TAB 2 Octave

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Jazz Minor Scale

The jazz minor scale is sometimes known in rock and jazz as the melodic minor, or the jazz melodic minor (it’s the same as the ascending form of the melodic minor scale in classical music theory). It produces interesting, jazz-like sounds over minor chords.

Open Position 1 Octave C Jazz Minor Scale TAB

C Jazz Minor Scale TAB 1 Octave

Jazz Minor Scale Pattern

Jazz Minor Guitar Scale Pattern

Use the movable pattern above to play this scale with any tonic note. Examples are given below. Click on the diagram or on the TABs to see more fretboard patterns.

2 Octave C Jazz Minor Scale TAB

C Jazz Minor Scale TAB 1 Octave

2 Octave G Jazz Minor Scale TAB

G Jazz Minor Scale TAB 2 Octave

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Double Harmonic Guitar Scales

The double harmonic guitar scale is one of several scales known as the Arabic scale. (You can see more on this page: Arabic Scales.) Use it to introduce an exotic, ‘Middle Eastern’ sound into your solos.

Open Position 1 Octave C Double Harmonic Scale TAB

C Double Harmonic Scale TAB 1 Octave

Double Harmonic Scale Pattern

Double Harmonic Guitar Scale Pattern

Use the movable pattern above to play this scale with any tonic note. Examples are given below.

2 Octave C Double Harmonic Scale TAB

C Double Harmonic Scale TAB 2 Octave

2 Octave G Double Harmonic Scale TAB

G Double Harmonic Scale TAB 2 Octave

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Whole Tone Scale

The whole tone scale produces an unsettling, ‘ambiguous’ sound. It’s used by jazz guitarists to improvise over dominant chords as it produces jazzy-sounding dissonances / tensions.

Every note in a whole tone scale is the same distance from its neighbor (as the name suggests, the interval between each note is a whole tone, or whole step). For this reason any of the notes in the scale pattern below could potentially be a tonic note (because, for example, a C whole tone scale contains the same notes as a D whole tone scale).

Open Position 1 Octave C Whole Tone Scale TAB

C Whole Tone Scale Guitar TAB 1 Octave

Whole Tone Scale Pattern

Whole Tone Guitar Scale Pattern

Use the movable pattern above to play this scale with any tonic note. Examples are given below. Click on the diagram or on the TABs to see more fretboard patterns.

2 Octave C Whole Tone Scale TAB

C Whole Tone Scale Guitar TAB 2 Octave

2 Octave G Whole Tone Scale TAB

G Whole Tone Scale Guitar TAB 2 Octave

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Altered Scale

The altered scale uses the same notes as a jazz minor scale, but starts and ends on the seventh degree of that scale.

When an altered scale is played over a dominant chord with the same root note (i.e. when a G altered scale is played over a G dominant chord) it produces every possible altered note. For this reason the altered scale is often used by jazz musicians, who exploit the ‘tensions’ produced by the altered notes.

  • You’ll find more information on this scale here: altered scale.

Open Position 1 Octave C Altered Scale TAB

C Altered Scale TAB 1 Octave

Altered Scale Pattern

Altered Scale Pattern Guitar

Use the movable pattern above to play this scale with any tonic note. Examples are given below. Click on the diagram or on the TABs to see more fretboard patterns.

2 Octave C Altered Scale TAB

C Altered Scale TAB 2 Octave

2 Octave G Altered Scale TAB

G Altered Scale TAB 2 Octave

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Diminished Guitar Scales

The intervals between the notes of a diminished scale alternate between whole and half steps. Diminished scales are ‘octatonic’, which means that they contain eight notes per octave (by contrast ‘normal’ scales such as the major and harmonic minor are ‘heptatonic’; i.e. they contain 7 notes per 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.

Open Position 1 Octave C Diminished Scale TAB

Diminished Scale Guitar TAB C 1 Octave

Diminished Scale Pattern

Diminished Scale Pattern Guitar

Use the movable pattern above to play this scale with any tonic note. Examples are given below. Click on the diagram or on the TABs to see more fretboard patterns.

2 Octave C Diminished Scale TAB

Diminished Scale Guitar TAB C 2 Octave

2 Octave G Diminished Scale TAB

Diminished Scale Guitar TAB G 2 Octave

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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.

Open Position 1 Octave C Lydian Augmented Scale TAB

Lydian Augmented Scale Guitar TAB C 1 Octave

Lydian Augmented Scale Pattern

Lydian Augmented Scale Pattern Guitar

2 Octave C Lydian Augmented Scale TAB

Lydian Augmented Scale Guitar TAB C 2 Octave

2 Octave G Lydian Augmented Scale TAB

Lydian Augmented Scale Guitar TAB C 2 Octave

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Further Information On Guitar Scales

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 we need 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.

Most of the scales on this page have links that you can follow to see more patterns.


Conclusion & More Scales For Guitar

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 your scale knowledge as and when you need it.

For more guitar scale information, check out the following pages:

Other Pages to Check Out

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.

Enjoy the guitar scales on this page and happy jamming!

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