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SC-000 • Scales Index Page

Justinguitar.com on Scales

All about scales...

Shown here is lots of information about the scales, including my favorite fingerings, alternative fingerings and patterns that I know are in common usage. There can be no doubt that learning scales is an important part of learning music, even if it is learning them to forget them later!

Important or Interesting Scale Information

SC-009 • Beginners Scale FAQ
Lots or people got a bit confused by all the information here about scales, so here is a little beginners guide to scales that I hope answers many of the questions often asked by beginner guitar players.

SC-010 • Scale Practice Routine
Check out my "Five Stage" program to develop your scales into melodies.

SC-011 • Scale Comparison Chart (for ADVANCED students)
This chart will show you the notes in all the common scales and modes, so you can compare them and start to understand the different ways that each scale is used. This is NOT FOR BEGINNERS - this is for more advanced players.

SC-012 • Pattern Studies (Melodic Patterns)
Use these to turn scales into melody. A technical, scientific and mathematical concept applied to guitar. Like rocket science? then this bit's for you ;) lol

SC-013 • Demystify The Minor Scales
There is a lot of confusion around the minor scales, which ones go where and why you might use one over the other... Well this lesson is an attempt at explaining how they are linked and theory purpose. This lesson is NOT FOR BEGINNERS, you will need to have a solid grasp of the construction of harmony to get this!

SC-014 • Relationships between notes and chords
This is another NOT FOR BEGINNERS lesson, maybe aimed at people looking at the Major scales, scale construction and perhaps even making up scales. Also useful for analysis of jazz solos when you have that eternal question "why are they playing this note over that chord?" :) 

The Major Scale

The Major scale is the most important scale you will ever learn. Although the Pentatonic is used a lot in rock and blues, The Major Scale is mega useful and you will find that you refer to it all the time! It is also easy to learn to improvise with and you will find that once you know it you will see it used all the time.

SC-001 • The Major Scale
The Major Scale is one of the most important scales that you can learn (along with the Pentatonic Scale). Modes are derived from it, and understanding it well can give you insights into chord construction and all sorts of theory elements of music.

SC-020 • The Major Scale - How And Why
This video lesson explains the importance of the Major Scale and it's practical application.

SC-021 • The Major Scale - The Five Positions
This video lesson shows you the fingering I use for the five positions and a few tips along the way.

SC-022 • The Major Scale - Melodic Pattern Basics
This lesson explains pattern studies and their application.

PR-005 • Master The Major Scale
If you really want to get your major scales sorted I think you should check out my DVD - Sorry for the plug, I really don't like banging on about my own work, but I really think it is a great way to get your major scales sorted out and it shows you how to use them, not just what they are - you learn and practice improvising (making up your own solos) with them right away!

See further down this page for the Modes of the Major Scale.

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

The Minor Pentatonic is a really useful scale for blues and rock and you will use it for your entire playing life. It sounds really cool and has many uses. If you want to get into the blues then you totally need to get this one down. It is equally as important as The Major Scale. The minor pentatonic scale is often the first scale learnt by guitar players because it is easy to play and fun to use to start your blues improvisation.

SC-002 • The Minor Pentatonic Scale
In the lessons I will show you the five basic positions and the alternate fingerings because many people play it many different ways.

SC-023 • The Minor Pentatonic - How And Why
A video explaining where the notes come from and what chords go with this popular scale.

SC-024 • The Minor Pentatonic - The Five Positions
A video showing the fingerings for the five positions shown in SC-002.

SC-025 • Legato Patterns (Pentatonic)
Learn how to effectively use legato (hammer-ons and flick-offs) to make some cool patterns ;) Makes playing them faster a little easier too! This is a cool trick, easy to get the basics down, but you can spend LOTS of time on exploring this...

The Melodic Minor Scale

The melodic minor scale is a more advanced scale used mostly in jazz and fusion. It has some very useful modes contained in it, but make sure that you have mastered the major scale and the minor pentatonic before you even think about this scale. If you don't know why you should learn a scale, then you shouldn't bother! For reasons why you would want to use it, check out the jazz lessons!

SC-003 • The Melodic Minor Scale
This lesson will show you the five common positions of the Melodic Minor.

The Harmonic Minor Scale

This scale has a very classical (baroque) sound. It has some specialised uses, but again should only be looked at after the major scale has been mastered.

SC-004 • The Harmonic Minor Scale
This lesson will show you the five common positions of the Harmonic Minor.

The Major Pentatonic Scale

A lot of players rate this scale very highly, and there is no doubt that it is very useful, but I don't tend to use it a lot, so it is down here... If you play country then you wanna be checking out this scale right away. The shapes are the same as for the minor pentatonic, so maybe check that out first.

SC-005 • The Major Pentatonic
This lesson will show you the five common positions of the Major Pentatonic.

Modes (of the Major Scale)

Modes suffer from possibly more confusion than any other topic that I know of on guitar, but they are actually very simple... In this new series I hope to dispel some of the myths and explain what they are and how to use them.

SC-101 • Introduction To Modes
This lesson just covers some basic information on the modes to get you going before you start.

SC-102 • What To Know Before You Start Learning Modes
The title probably says it all... make sure you know all this stuff before you embark on the course!

SC-103 • Diatonic Chord Sequences
The first and most important step in beginning your journey. I hope you understand this before you get going but this lesson should serve as revision and maybe add in a few things that you didn't know.

SC-104 • Why Use Modes?
In this lesson I explain why we need modes and give you some examples to try out so you can HEAR why it is that we need to understand modes.

SC-105 • Modes In Series
A series of modes all come from the same major scale and understanding this is the first step in understanding how we use modes. It's also important to get familiar with the order of the modes too.

SC-106 • Modes In Parallel
Now we're going to look at all the modes that have the Tonal Centre of C. Requires a bit of counting and making sure you are confident with your tones and semitones.

SC-107 • Calculating Parent Major Scales
Now that we have looked at the modes in series and parallel, I'm going to show you some super shortcuts so that you can work out the Parent Major Scale of any mode in a few seconds!

SC-108 • Comparing Modes
Now you can calculate them we start to look at them in more detail and compare them side by side and look at how and why they are different and how that effects using them.

SC-109 • ? on hold in case i think of something needed here!

SC-110 • How To Practice Modes
The following series of lessons are going to go through all the modes one at a time and give you some tips on using each one. But it helps to have a little routine that you can use to get the sound of the modes in your head.

SC-111 • The Ionian Mode
In this series we explore each mode, looking at each note and how it is used! We're starting here with Ionian, essentially the same thing as The Major Scale, but we check it out anyway...

SC-112 • The Dorian Mode
My personal fave, a very easy to use mode is our Dorian. Mixed in with some blues licks and you have a very nice pallet indeed :) Plus there are some links to some licks found in the blues course...

SC-113 • The Phrygian Mode
Bit of an odd one this, sounds kinda Spanish, but not a very commonly used mode. Quite a few notes to treat with caution, so you have to spend some time with this one to get it sounding good.

SC-114 • The Lydian Mode
Lydian rocks, it's a cool sound, the sharp 4 just has a real nice tension about it. Some people believe our whole music system should have been based on this sound rather than the major scale...

SC-115 • The Mixolydian Mode
Probably the second most used mode, very cool in blues and jazz, really outlines Dominant 7th chords great. Only one note different from the Major Scale (and one note different to the Dorian too!), this one is one to give a lot of time to, you will use it lots!

SC-116 • The Aeolian Mode
The natural or "Pure Minor", but it's not as commonly used as you might think, especially in pop, rock and jazz, it's the Dorian that is played most often. Santana uses the Aeolian lots, and it can sound awesome.

SC-117 • The Locrian Mode
Well last and least... this scale is hard to use and only used over min7b5 chords, so only in jazz, and usually by the time you get to be using this, you'll be using mode of the melodic minor (Locrian Nat2) over min7b5 chords anyway... but I couldn't really have just left it out altogether now could I?

SC-XXX • Minor Modes and the Minor Pentatonic

SC-XXX • Examples Of Modal Playing

SC-XXX • Combining Modes With Arpeggios

SC-XXX • Joe Satriani's Pitch Axis Concept


Weird Scales that you probably won't use much ;)

Only learn scales when you know that you need to use them! If you are looking at doing more advanced scale concepts, like say The Lydian Chromatic Concept For Tonal Organization For Improvisation by George Russell then you should not need my help figuring out the scales. Really interesting book btw, if you are into full on experimental theories, though when I bought it I remember it cost a fortune, and though it's an interesting read, I never really used any of it!