Types Of Scales

author: JeffBrower date: 09/23/2008 category: for beginners
rating: 8.3 / votes: 8 
Note: The scales in this lesson are all G scales, but you can move the pattern all the way up the strings. I will use abbreviations for whole step and half step in this lesson. Whole step is represented by 'W', and half step by 'H'. A whole step means to go up 2 frets, and a half step means 1 fret. Figure 1: Major scales
E-|---------------------------2-3-|-3-2---------------------------|
B-|-----------------------3-5--H--|--H--5-3-----------------------|
G-|-----------------2-4-5--W-W----|----W-W--5-4-2-----------------|
D-|-----------2-4-5--W-H-W--------|--------W-H-W--5-4-2-----------|
A-|-----2-3-5--W-H-W--------------|--------------W-H-W--5-3-2-----|
E-|-3-5--H-W-W--------------------|--------------------W-W-H--5-3-|
     W W                                                     W W
Major scales have the pattern W, W, H, W, W, W, H. Figure 2: Natural Minor Scales
E-|---------------------------1-3-|-3-1---------------------------|
B-|-----------------------3-4--W--|--W--4-3-----------------------|
G-|-----------------2-3-5--H-W----|----W-H--5-3-2-----------------|
D-|-----------1-3-5--H-W-W--------|--------W-W-H--5-3-1-----------|
A-|-----1-3-5--W-W-W--------------|--------------W-W-W--5-3-1-----|
E-|-3-5--W-W-H--------------------|--------------------H-W-W--5-3-|
     W H                                                     H W
Natural minor scales have the pattern W, H, W, W, H, W, W. Figure 3: Melodic Minor Scales
E-|---------------------------2-3-|-3-1---------------------------|
B-|-----------------------3-5--H--|--W--4-3-----------------------|
G-|-----------------2-3-5--W-W----|----W-H--5-3-2-----------------|
D-|-----------2-4-5--H-W-W--------|--------W-W-H--5-3-1-----------|
A-|-----1-3-5--W-H-W--------------|--------------W-W-W--5-3-1-----|
E-|-3-5--W-W-W--------------------|--------------------H-W-W--5-3-|
     W H                                                     H W
Melodic minor scales have the ascending pattern W, H, W, W, W, W, H, but have the same descending pattern of natural minor scales. Figure 4: Harmonic Minor Scales
E-|---------------------------2-3-|-3-2----------------------------|
B-|-----------------------3-4--H--|--H--4-3------------------------|
G-|-----------------2-3-5--H-WH---|----WH-H--5-3-2-----------------|
D-|-----------1-4-5--H-W-W--------|---------W-W-H--5-4-1-----------|
A-|-----1-3-5--|-H-W--------------|---------------W-H-WH-5-3-1-----|
E-|-3-5--W-W-H-WH-----------------|---------------------H-W-W--5-3-|
     W H                                                      H W
Harmonic minor scales have the pattern W H W W H WH H, the WH being a whole step plus a half step, or 3 frets. Figure 5: Chromatic Scales
E-|---------------------------------------------1-2-3-|
B-|-----------------------------------1-2-3-4-5--H-H--|
G-|---------------------------1-2-3-4--H-H-H-H-H------|
D-|-----------------1-2-3-4-5--H-H-H-H----------------|
A-|-------1-2-3-4-5--H-H-H-H-H------------------------|
E-|-3-4-5--H-H-H-H-H----------------------------------|
     H H H
Chromatic scales are all half steps, so the pattern is H, H, H, H, H, H, H, H, H, H, H. Figure 6: Whole Tone Scales
E-|-----------------------1-3-|-3-1-----------------------|
B-|-------------------2-4--W--|--W--4-2-------------------|
G-|---------------2-4--W-W----|----W-W--4-2---------------|
D-|---------1-3-5--W-W--------|--------W-W--5-3-1---------|
A-|-----2-4--W-W-W------------|------------W-W-W--4-2-----|
E-|-3-5--W-W------------------|------------------W-W--5-3-|
     W W                                             W W
Whole tone scales only use whole steps, so the pattern is W, W, W, W, W. Figure 7: Pentonic Scales (A)
E-|---------------------3-|-3---------------------|
B-|-----------------3-5---|---5-3-----------------|
G-|-------------2-5--W-WH-|--|-W--5-2-------------|
D-|---------2-5--|-W------|--WH--W-WH-5-2---------|
A-|-----3-5--|-W-WH-------|----------W-WH-5-3-----|
E-|-3-5--W-W-WH-----------|--------------W-W--5-3-|
     W WH                                   WH W
The first type of pentonic scale uses five notes, and was originally designed for the piano's group of two, and then three black keys. The pattern is W, WH, W, W, WH. Figure 7: Pentonic Scales (B)
E-|-----------------------2-4-|-4-2-------------------------|
B-|-------------------2-4--W--|--W---4-2--------------------|
G-|---------------1-3--W-WH---|----WH-W---3-1---------------|
D-|----------1--4--W-WH-------|---------WH-W--4--1----------|
A-|-----1--4--WH-W------------|--------------W-WH--4--1-----|
E-|-3-5--WH-W-----------------|-------------------W-WH--5-3-|
     W W                                               W W
The second type of pentonic scale was designed for three, then two black keys. The pattern is W, W, WH, W, WH.
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