Types Of Scales

A lesson about the types of scales.

6
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.

19 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    mykalcook
    D|-----2-5-2-----| A|-----4-(7)-(7)-4-----| F|-----2-5---- -5-2-----| C|-----4-(7)-----(7)-4-----| G|-----3-6-----6-3 -----| C|-4-7-----7--4-| What type of scale is this?
    mykalcook
    Throw it in notepad, the forum font loves screwing with tabs to begin with
    aditya.krishna.
    How do we play aeolian, dorian, ionian, mixolydian, blues and chromatic scales ??? I want to play some on synister gates solos and need to learn these scales Please reply ASAP
    mykalcook
    D|-----2-5-2-----| A|-----4-(7)-(7)-4-----| F|-----2-5---- -5-2-----| C|-----4-(7)-----(7)-4-----| G|-----3-6-----6-3 -----| C|-4-7-----7--4-| (i posted a comment previous to this one but for some reason the tablature cut and pasted turned out completely wrong.. not sure if its the font. At any rate, I was thinking about some of the 'death metal' out there, and this one particular interval, appregio, scale (whatever you want to call it since its technically not a 'scale' however i think it is) stands out. It is used rather often and has a very neutral sound to it, making it a great scale for heavy angular chords that go really well with the distortion. What is this 'scale' called if it even has a name. It uses a portion of the pentatonic scale with the combination of a WH whole+half step, meaning there are only 6 individual notes between each octave. This scale is very flexible with other scales and the chords it generates are great for death metal.
    garamri
    Figure 7 doesn't sound right. playing the chart it sounds like the second interval is a half step.
    SpecialSteve7
    pretty helpful! I'm a beginner, and this is really the first thing that helped me "get" scales. Thanks!