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  • Jazz Guitar Scales





    Practising your scales is essential no what level you are at or what genre of guitar music you are studying. Scales provide us the insight we need into how notes relate to one another, chords are constructed as well as developing technical ability, ear training and your knowledge of the fretboard.

    If you are approaching this section of the site as a complete beginner it is important that you are familiar with the Major Scale, the Natural Minor Scale, the Harmonic Minor Scale and the Melodic Minor Scale before you begin to attempt any of the scales in this section.

    In addition, it must be noted that if your goal is to be able to improvise well you must remember that studying scales alone won't help you reach that goal. A thorough knowledge of Jazz Repertoire, Phrasing, Rhythms and Triads is also required.

    That said, the benefits that come from learning these scales can hardly be underestimated!

    Click on the Links below for full and detailed explanations of how all of these Jazz Scales work:

  • Major Scale Modes

    Each note of the Major scale has a Mode that can be played from it as a starting point thus giving us what is termed a Mode. As there are 7 notes in the Major scale it follows that are 7 Modes. Modes are incredibly useful for the insight they give into harmony within the Major scale and no effective study can be completed until one has a good grasp of the Modes and how they relate to the Major scale.

  • Bebop Scales

    Bebop scales are derived from modes of the Major, the Harmonic Minor and the Melodic Minor scales. There are four types of Bebop scale, the Bebop Dorian, Bebop Ionian, the Bebop Dominant and the Altered Bebop. The chromatic notes that feature in all of them combine to give them unmistakeably Jazzy feel.

    The Jazz Bebop scale is probably the most important scales to learn because of its unique sound.

    All of the exercises in this section will be in the key of C major and will utilise the C Major chord structure:

    C Major, Dm, G7, C maj7 or C min, Dm7b5, G7alt, Cm7

  • Pentatonic Scales

    The Pentatonic scale is another must know scale for the guitar as it forms one of the starting points for soloing particularly in blues and rock music. It is a five note scale within the octave and a really easy one to learn. It is essential to know this scale if you are to understand blues improvisation.

  • Natural Minor Scales

    The Natural Minor starts on the 6th note of the Major Scale and is also known as the Aeolian Mode. It shares all of the same notes as the Major scale that it is related to.

    In order to help understand scales and before you attempt the Harmonic and Melodic Minor scales it is important to get your fingers around this one.

  • Harmonic Minor Scale

    The Harmonic Minor is the same as the Natural Minor except the 7th note of the scale is one note higher (in other words a Major 7th). If you can remember it in this way then it should make it easier to avoid mixing it up with the Melodic Minor Scale.

  • Melodic Minor Scale

    The Melodic Minor is a complicated scale that is more commonly found in Jazz and Fusion Music. It is the same as the Natural Minor although in its ascending form the 6th and 7th notes are raised by a semi tone. When descending the Melodic Minor reverts back to the Natural Minor.