Scales & Modes

So first of all, CONGRATULATIONS on making it to this page! A lot of people are scared by the word "scale" they kinda know they should learn some, but they think they're boring and hard and complicated but...

Scales are great fun when you know how to make music with them!

Before you start on learning scales it's very important you know: why you should learn a particular scale, where you can use it, how to make music with it, what pattern (or system) to learn and when to forget it!

I recommend that you learn scales in a practical environment. My Blues Lead Guitar series will teach you all about using The Minor Pentatonic, The Blues Scale, The Major Pentatonic, Dorian and Mixolydian Modes. I have a DVD (and download) called Master The Major Scale which goes into a detailed practical approach to learning to use that.

While these lessons are mostly for reference, I hope to get you making music out of scales as soon as possible, and realizing that they were not designed to make children hate music (which is what I thought until I was about 16) but are a really useful tool for writing, improvising and understanding music!

You'll find lots of information about the most commonly used scales and modes, including my favourite fingerings, alternative fingerings and patterns that I know are in common usage. Some of it is here as 'reference material' but these lessons are all about you making music from scales. Hope you enjoy them! 

START HERE: Learning & Using Scales

You might save yourself a whole lot of wasted time! Sometimes it's best NOT to learn scales!

This module contains a lot of super useful information for anyone new to scales and how to use them, and some really helpful stuff for even more advanced players. Get your eyes on this before getting stuck into your scale patterns!

The Pentatonic Scales

Pentatonic Scales are what most people start with. Some think of them as being 'the major scale with the tricky notes taken out' which is not far from the truth! But it's not just about them being 'easy', they're the alphabet that we use to create words in many languages, including Blues, Rock, Jazz and Country! Be aware that scales are just alphabets and if you want to speak a language you gotta learn words (licks!) so always better to learn scales as part of a course (like my Essential Blues Lead Guitar) - they're presented here as reference material not a how to use course!

The Major Scale and its Modes

The Major Scale is the foundation of all Western harmony and is obviously very important to study in both theory and practice. The information here is presented as a reference, if you want to crack into using it then I recommend my Master The Major Scale DVD course first of all. I will get my Modes course sorted as soon as this big web update is out of the way! :)

The Minor Scales

Please check the lesson about the different minor scales before studying these, or you might just waste a whole bunch of time - just like I did. Learn scales when you know why you should learn them and not before!

Symmetrical Scales

There are two very interesting scales that are symmetrical in intervals, the Diminished Scale and The Whole Tone. They are both very interesting and have very specific uses, so learn them when you know how you'll use them!

Using Scales

In this section, I'll add some lessons about the best ways to work on scales, practicing them, using them 'for real', fingering logic, debates  on the 'best' systems and anything else I think might be interesting or helpful! :)