How To Use Whole Tone Scales

Whole tone scales have an tonally ambiguous sound that can sound quite ‘out of place’ if used to improvise with in standard rock and pop songs (though you shouldn’t let that stop you trying!). Whole tone scales are often used in jazz, and can be used to play over augmented and augmented 7th chords such as G+, or G7+. They can also be used over seventh flat 5 chords (e.g. D7b5).

Try It Now!

Here is a common whole tone scale shape:

Whole tone scale guitar
Whole tone scale

Play it at the 5th fret to improvise over the A7+ chord in this sequence:

improvisation whole tone scale
Use D Major and A Whole-Tone Scales To Improvise Over This Chord Sequence.

||: D6 | Em7 | Bm7 | A7+ :||

Use a D major scale to improvise over the other chords.

Play along to the backing track:

Backing Track For Improvisation With Whole-Tone Scale

Whole Tone Scale Improvisation Example

Here is an example of a lead guitar solo incorporating whole tone scales.

Example Guitar Solo Incorporating Whole-Tone Scales

Enjoy experimenting with the whole tone scale, and remember, there are only two of them, so they aren’t too difficult to learn! See Whole Tone Scale Guitar for more information and scale diagrams.
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