Guitar Scales Explained – The Ultimate Guide


Scales are collections of notes that guitarists use to write riffs, melodies, and solo over songs in different keys.

Scales come in all shapes and sizes.

They can have 5 notes, pentatonic scales, 6 notes, blues & whole tone, 7 notes, major scale, and even 8 notes, diminished scales.

No matter their size, scales are an essential tool for building fretboard knowledge, guitar technique, and soloing skills for guitarists of all levels and styles.

This is why scales are so important to learn on guitar. They’re a multi-functional device that improves your ears, hands, and musical brain all in one go.

Oh, and they’re just downright fun to play and be creative with on guitar!

In this in-depth guide, you learn 11 essential scales, their construction, how to play them, and how to solo with each scale over a backing track.

This way you get a full intro to each scale from a theory, fretboard, and improvisational standpoint.

Grab your guitar, dial in your favorite tone, and have fun exploring any or all of these essential guitar scales in your practice routine.

Table of Contents

Pentatonic Scales


To kick things off with a bang, you learn how to build, play, and solo with two of the most popular scales in modern music, minor and major pentatonic scales.

Minor and major pentatonic scales are used by guitarists in rock, blues, jazz, pop, funk, soul, R&B, country, and more to create riffs, melodies, and improvised solos.

Below you find background, fingerings, and soloing workouts to check out for both pentatonic scales.

Grab your guitar, dial in your favorite tone, and have fun learning these essential guitar scales.

How to Build the Minor Pentatonic Scale


In this section, you learn how to build the minor pentatonic scale using intervals.

Intervals, in this context, are the distance between any two notes in the scale.

When you build a scale, the intervals are always the same no matter what key you’re in.

For example, a minor 3rd distance is always 3 frets away, frets 1-4 for example, no matter what key you’re in for that scale.

The intervals, and their distance on the fretboard, used to build the minor pentatonic scale are:

  • m3 = Minor 3rd (3 frets space on guitar, frets 1-4 for example)
  • M2 = Major 2nd (1 fret space on guitar, frets 1-3 for example)

Now that you know the minor pentatonic interval distances, here’s how they look when applied to the fretboard in a scale shape.

Play this scale slowly and say the intervals as you move between the notes to get a sense of how this scale sits on the fretboard and in your ears.

How to Play a Minor Pentatonic Scale


You’re now ready to play a minor pentatonic scale shape on guitar.

In the diagram below, you find a “moveable” minor pentatonic scale shape, in the same way, that barre chords are moveable chords.

This means that the red dot is the root note of your minor pentatonic scale.

Wherever you place that red dot, that’s the key you’re in.

If you place the red dot on the 6th string, 7th fret, it’s a B minor pentatonic scale for example.

The first thing you want to do is memorize the scale shape.

And the quickest, easiest way to do that is to memorize the finger numbers you use in that shape.

This is helpful because no matter what key you’re in your finger order stays the same.

Here, the fingers you use for minor pentatonic, from 6th string up to 1st string, are:

6th = 1-4

5th = 1-3

4th = 1-3

3rd = 1-3

2nd = 1-4

1st = 1-4

Start by playing the scale in the written key, memorize the shape and finger numbers, then take it to other keys when ready.

There are a number of ways that you can do this.

You can play on every fret, so play the scale on the 1st fret, then the 2nd, etc. up and down the neck that way.

Or you could play every second fret, like playing the scale on frets 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, for example.

Or you could move around randomly to cover all 12 keys that way as well.

How you play in different keys is up to you, and it can change with each scale you learn, or in each practice session.

As long as you practice the minor pentatonic scale in 12 keys over time you’re golden.

Have fun learning this minor pentatonic scale shape, memorizing the finger pattern, and playing it in every key on the fretboard.

When ready, head to the next section to take this scale shape to a soloing workout over a backing track.


How to Solo with the Minor Pentatonic Scale


To finish up your intro to the minor pentatonic scale, you use the shape you learned in the previous section to solo over a backing track.

Review the minor pentatonic shape if necessary, then when ready, press play on the jam track and improvise using that shape.

If you’re new to soloing, don’t overthink it, just let loose and go for it.

Play different rhythms, leave notes out, slide between notes, bend notes, hammer and pull-off notes, repeat notes.

Focus on having fun being creative and exploring the minor pentatonic scale over the backing track to get the most out of this creative workout.

Minor Pentatonics Backing Track

How to Build the Major Pentatonic Scale


In this section, you learn how to build the major pentatonic scale using intervals, as you did with the minor pentatonic scale above.

To review, intervals are the distance between two notes in the scale.

When building any scale, the intervals are always the same no matter what key you’re in, what starting note you use for the scale.

For example, a major 2nd distance is always 2 frets apart, frets 1-3 for example, no matter what key you’re playing in on the fretboard.

The intervals used to build the major pentatonic scale are:

  • M2 = Major 2nd (1 fret space on guitar, frets 2-4 for example)
  • m3 = Minor 3rd (3 frets space on guitar, frets 2-5 for example)

Now that you know what intervals are used in the major pentatonic scale, here’s how they look on the fretboard.

Play this major pentatonic scale shape and say the intervals as go to get a sense of how this scale sits on the fretboard before moving to the next section.

How to Play a Major Pentatonic Scale


You’re now ready to play a major pentatonic scale shape on guitar.

To review, in the diagram below, you play a “moveable” major pentatonic scale shape, in the same way, that barre chords are moveable chords.

This means that the red dot is the root note and tells you the key you’re in for that scale shape.

For example, f you place the red dot on the 6th string, 3rd fret, it’s a G major pentatonic scale.

The first thing to do is memorize the scale shape. And the quickest, easiest way to do that is to memorize the finger numbers on each string.

This is helpful because no matter what key you’re playing the major pentatonic scale in, your finger order stays the same.

The fingers you use for the major pentatonic scale are:

6th = 2-4

5th = 1-4

4th = 1-4

3rd = 1-3

2nd = 1-3

1st = 1-3

Start by playing the scale in the given key, memorize the shape and finger numbers, then take it to other keys when ready.

You can play chromatically up the neck, skip a fret and play every 2nd key, or play randomly to hit all 12 keys with the major pentatonic scale in your practice.

How you play in different keys is up to you, and it can change with each scale you learn, or even in each practice session.

Have fun learning this major pentatonic scale shape, memorizing the finger pattern, and playing it in every key across the fretboard.

How to Solo with the Major Pentatonic Scale


To finish up your intro to the major pentatonic scale, you solo over a backing track using the scale shape you learned in the previous section.

Review the major pentatonic scale shape if necessary.

Then, when ready, press play on the jam track below and solo using that shape.

If you’re new to soloing, don’t overthink it just have fun.

Play different rhythms, leave notes out, slide between notes, bend notes, hammer and pull-off notes.

Have fun being creative and exploring the major pentatonic scale over the backing track in your workout today.

Major Pentatonics Backing Track

Blues Scales


Moving on, you now add one note to the minor and major pentatonic scales you just learned to form blues scales on guitar.

By adding a #4/b5 to the minor pentatonic scale, and the b3 to the major pentatonic scale, you create the minor and major blues scales respectively.

Don’t let the name fool you, minor and major blues scales aren’t just used in blues music.

You can find these scales in guitar solos by rock, jazz, funk, soul, country, and R&B artists, just to name a few genres.

Because they’re some of the most versatile scales around, minor and major blues are two essential sounds to get under your fingers and onto your fretboard.

Have fun exploring these two must-know sounds as you learn how to build, play, and solo with minor and major blues scales in this section.

How to Build the Minor Blues Scale


In this section, you learn how to build the minor blues scale using intervals, in the same way as you built the pentatonic scales above.

To review, musical intervals are the distance between two notes in the scale.

When you build a minor blues scale, the intervals are always the same no matter what key you’re in.

For example, a minor 2nd distance is always 1 fret away, frets 1-2 for example, no matter what key you’re playing in on the fretboard.

The intervals and their distance on the fretboard, used in the minor blues scale are:

  • m3 = Minor 3rd (3 frets space on guitar, frets 3-6 for example)
  • M2 = Major 2nd (1 fret space on guitar, frets 3-5 for example)
  • m2 = Minor 2nd (no space on guitar, frets 3-4 for example)

Now that you know those intervals, here’s how they look when applied to a minor blues scale shape.

Play this scale, say the intervals, and sing along to get a sense of how the minor blues scale sits on the fretboard and in your ears.

How to Play a Minor Blues Scale


You’re now ready to play a minor blues scale shape on guitar.

In the shape below, you play a “moveable” scale shape.

This means that the red dot is the root note for the minor blues scale.

Wherever you place that red dot on that fretboard, that’s the key you’re in.

If you place the red dot on the 6th string, 8th fret, it’s a C minor blues scale for example.

The first thing you want to do is memorize the scale shape, and the quickest, easiest way to do that is to memorize the finger numbers you use.

This is helpful because no matter what key you’re in for the minor blues scale, your finger order stays the same.

Your finger order for this minor blues scale shape are:

6th = 1-4

5th = 1-2-3

4th = 1-3

3rd = 1-3-4

2nd = 1-4

1st = 1-4

Start by playing the scale in the given key, memorize the shape and finger numbers before taking it to other keys.

You can play chromatically up the neck, skip a fret and play every 2nd key, or play randomly to hit all 12 keys with the minor blues scale in your practice.

How you play the minor blues scale in 12 keys is up to you and can change with each scale you learn and in each practice session.

Have fun learning this minor blues scale shape, memorizing the finger pattern, and playing it in every key on the fretboard.

How to Solo with the Minor Blues Scale


To finish up your intro to minor blues scales, you use the scale shape you just learned to solo over a backing track.

Review the minor blues scale shape if necessary, then when ready, press play on the jam track below and improvise using that shape.

If you’re new to soloing, don’t overthink it for now, just go for it.

Play different rhythms, leave some notes out, slide between notes, bend notes, hammer and pull-off notes.

Have fun being creative and exploring the minor blues scale over the backing track in your workout today and beyond.

Minor Blues Scale Backing Track

How to Build the Major Blues Scale


In this section, you learn how to build the major blues scale using intervals as you have with the previous scales in this guide.

As a quick review, intervals are the distance between any two notes in the scale.

The intervals and their distance on the fretboard, used in the major blues scale are:

  • m3 = Minor 3rd (3 frets space on guitar, frets 4-7 for example)
  • M2 = Major 2nd (1 fret space on guitar, frets 4-6 for example)
  • m2 = Minor 2nd (no space on guitar, frets 4-5 for example)

Now that you know those intervals, here’s how they look when applied to the fretboard in a major blues scale.

Play this scale and say each interval to get a sense of how this scale sits on the fretboard.

How to Play a Major Blues Scale


You’re now ready to play a major blues scale shape on guitar.

In the diagram below, you see a “moveable” scale shape.

Just like previous scales in this guide, this means that the red dot is the root note.

Wherever you place that red dot, that’s the key you’re in for the major blues scale you’re playing at that moment.

For example, if you place the red dot on the 6th string, 2nd fret, it’s an F# major blues scale.

The first thing you want to do is memorize the scale shape, and the quickest, easiest way to do that is to memorize the finger numbers in that scale.

This is helpful because no matter what key you’re in, your finger order stays the same.

Here, the fingers you use, from 6th string up to 1st string, are:

6th = 2-4

5th = 1-1-4

4th = 1-4

3rd = 1-2-3

2nd = 1-3

1st = 1-3-4

Start by playing the major blues scale in the given key, memorize the shape and finger numbers, then take it to other keys when comfortable.

You can play chromatically up the neck, skip a fret and play every 2nd key, or play randomly to hit all 12 keys with the major blues scale in your practice.

How you play the major blues scale in 12 keys is up to you and can change with each scale you learn and in each practice session.

Have fun learning this major blues scale shape, memorizing the finger pattern, and playing it in every key on the fretboard.

When ready, head below to take this major blues scale shape to a soloing workout over a backing track.

How to Solo with the Major Blues Scale


To finish up your intro to the major blues scale, you use the scale shape you learned in the previous section to solo over a backing track.

Review the scale shape if necessary, then when ready, press play on the jam track below and solo using that shape.

If you’re new to soloing, don’t overthink it.

Experiment with different rhythms, leave some notes out, slide between notes, bend notes, hammer and pull-off notes, etc.

Have fun being creative and exploring the major blues scale over the backing track in your workout today.

Major Blues Scale Backing Track

 

Major Scale


You’ve checked out 5-note pentatonic scales, 6-note blues scales, and now you’re ready for your first 7-note scale, the major scale for guitar!

The major scale is the foundation for all modern scales, as it’s the “neutral” scale with all major or perfect intervals in its construction.

Similar to major pentatonic and major blues scales, the major scale is used to solo over progressions in a key and needs to change with the keys.

To paraphrase Joe Pass, “When the key changes, you change, and the major scale changes.”

Playing the major scale isn’t too bad on guitar, as the shapes tend to sit well under your fingers and on the fretboard.

The challenge with the major scale is using it in your solos, as you have to recognize when keys change and move with those changes.

Below is an intro to the major scale, how to build, play, and how to solo with this essential guitar sound.

When you’re ready to take this scale further in your playing, go to the 7 Day Major Scale Challenge here.

In the meantime, have fun exploring this scale on the fretboard and adding it to your solos over the progression below.

How to Build the Major Scale


In this section, you learn how to build the major scale using intervals.

Intervals, as they were with 5 and 6-note scales, are the distance between two notes in the major scale.

The intervals used in the major scale are:

  • M2 = Major 2nd (1 fret space on guitar, frets 5-7 for example)
  • m2 = Minor 2nd (no space on guitar, frets 5-6 for example)

Now that you know those intervals, here’s how they look when applied to the fretboard in a major scale shape.

Play this scale and say the intervals as you move between the notes to get a sense for how this scale sits on the fretboard before moving to the next section.

How to Play a Major Scale


You’re now ready to play a major scale on guitar.

In the diagram below, you find a “moveable” scale shape, just like barre chords are moveable chords.

The red dot is the root note for the major scale. Wherever you place that red dot, that’s the key you’re in.

If you place the red dot on the 6th string, 10th fret, that’s a D major scale for example.

The first thing you want to do is memorize the scale shape, and the quickest, easiest way to do that is to memorize the finger numbers you use.

This is helpful because no matter what key you’re in, your finger order stays the same.

The major scale fingers from 6th string up to 1st string are:

6th = 2-4

5th = 1-2-4

4th = 1-3-4

3rd = 1-3-4

2nd = 2-4

1st = 1-2-4

Start by playing the scale in the given key, memorize the shape and finger numbers, then take it to other keys.

You can play chromatically up the neck, skip a fret and play every 2nd key, or play randomly to hit all 12 keys with the major scale in your practice routine.

How you play the major scale in 12 keys is up to you and can change with each scale you learn and in each practice session.

Have fun learning this major scale shape, memorizing the finger pattern, and playing it in every key on the fretboard.

When ready, head below to take this major scale shape to a soloing workout over a backing track.

How to Solo with the Major Scale


To finish up your intro to the major scale, you use the scale shape you learned in the previous section to solo over a backing track.

Review the major scale shape if necessary, then when ready, press play on the jam track below and improvise using that shape.

If you’re new to soloing, don’t overthink it, just go for it.

Experiment with different rhythms, leaving notes out, sliding between notes, bending notes, hammering and pulling-off notes, etc.

Have fun being creative and soloing with the major scale over the backing track in your workout today.

Major Scale Backing Track

Natural Minor Scale


The first minor scale in this guide has several names. It’s called natural minor, relative minor, and the Aeolian mode, as it’s the 6th mode of the major scale.

Natural minor is used in the same way as the major scale, except you apply it to minor key and minor key progressions.

Used mostly in rock, pop, country, and other related genres, the natural minor scale is essential learning for all modern guitarists.

Have fun as you learn how to build, play, and solo with the natural minor scale in the workouts below.

How to Build the Natural Minor Scale


In this section, you learn how to build the natural scale using intervals.

To review, musical intervals are the distance between two notes in the scale.

When you build a scale, the intervals are always the same no matter what key you’re in, what starting note you use for the scale.

For example, a minor 2nd distance is always 1 fret away, frets 6-7 for example, no matter what key you’re in on the fretboard.

The intervals and their distance on the fretboard, used in the natural minor scale are:

  • m2 = Minor 2nd (no space on guitar, frets 6-7 for example)
  • M2 = Major 2nd (1 fret space on guitar, frets 6-8 for example)

Now that you know those intervals, here’s how they look when applied to the fretboard in a natural minor scale shape.

Play this natural minor scale, say the intervals as you go, and get a sense of how this scale sits on the fretboard before moving to the next section.

How to Play a Natural Minor Scale


You’re now ready to play a natural minor scale on guitar.

In the diagram below, you find a “moveable” scale shape, just like barre chords are moveable chords.

What this means, is that the red dot is the root note. Wherever you place that red dot, that’s the key you’re in for the natural minor scale.

So, if you place the red dot on the 6th string, 4th fret, it’s a G# natural minor scale for example.

The first thing you want to do is memorize the scale shape, and the quickest, easiest way to do that is to memorize the finger numbers you use.

This is helpful because no matter what key you’re in, your finger order stays the same.

Here, the fingers you use, from 6th string up to 1st string, are:

6th = 1-3-4

5th = 1-3-4

4th = 1-3

3rd = 1-2-4

2nd = 1-2-4

1st = 1-3-4

Start by playing the scale in the given key, memorize the shape and finger numbers, then take it to other keys.

You can play chromatically up the neck, skip a fret and play every 2nd key, or play randomly to hit all 12 keys with the natural minor scale in your practice routine.

How you play the natural minor scale in 12 keys is up to you and can change with each scale you learn and in each practice session.

Have fun learning this natural minor scale shape, memorizing the finger pattern, and playing it in every key on the fretboard.

When ready, head below to take this scale shape to a soloing workout over a backing track.

How to Solo with the Natural Minor Scale


To finish up your intro to natural minor scales, you use the scale shape you learned in the previous section to solo over a backing track.

Review the scale if necessary, then when ready, press play on the jam track below and improvise using that shape.

If you’re new to soloing, don’t overthink it. Play different rhythms, leave some notes out, slide between notes, bend notes, hammer and pull-off notes.

Just have fun being creative and exploring the natural minor scale over the backing track in your workout today.

Natural Minor Backing Track

Harmonic Minor Scale


If you’re a fan of classical guitar and neo-classical shredders like Yngwie Malmsteen, then you’re already familiar with the harmonic minor sound.

Featuring a raised 7th interval, harmonic minor has more of a “bite” to it compared to its natural cousin.

Used to solo over minor chords, keys, and progressions, harmonic minor brings an instant classical and neo-classical sound to your playing.

Oh, and if you can sneak in open strings and sweep-picking, with a few fans blowing your hair back, you’re really cookin’ with this scale.

Grab a scalloped neck Strat, crank your Marshall stack, and have fun exploring this classic guitar scale in the workouts below.

How to Build the Harmonic Minor Scale


In this section, you learn how to build the harmonic minor scale on paper and your fretboard.

As a review, intervals are the distance between two notes in the scale.

The intervals and their distance on the fretboard, used in the harmonic minor scale are:

  • m3 = Minor 3rd (3 frets space on guitar, frets 1-4 for example)
  • M2 = Major 2nd (1 fret space on guitar, frets 1-3 for example)
  • m2 = Minor 2nd (no space on guitar, frets 1-2 for example)

Now that you know those interval distances, here’s how they look when applied to the fretboard in a harmonic minor scale shape.

Play this scale, say the intervals as you move between the notes, and get a sense for how this scale sits on the fretboard before moving to the next section.

How to Play a Harmonic Minor Scale


You’re now ready to play a harmonic minor scale on guitar.

In the diagram below, you find a “moveable” scale shape, just like barre chords are moveable chords.

Here, the red dot is the root note. Wherever you place that red dot, that’s the key you’re in for the harmonic minor scale.

If you place the red dot on the 6th string, 11th fret, it’s a D# harmonic minor scale for example.

The first thing you want to do is memorize the scale shape, and the quickest, easiest way to do that is to memorize the finger numbers in the scale.

This is helpful because no matter what key you’re in, your finger order stays the same.

Here, the fingers you use, from 6th string up to 1st string, are:

6th = 1-3-4

5th = 1-3-4

4th = 2-3

3rd = 1-2-4

2nd = 2-3

1st = 1-1-3-4

Start by playing the scale in the given key, memorize the shape and finger numbers, then take it to other keys.

You can play chromatically up the neck, skip a fret and play every 2nd key, or play randomly to hit all 12 keys with the harmonic minor scale in your practice routine.

How you play the harmonic minor scale in 12 keys is up to you and can change with each scale you learn and in each practice session.

Have fun learning this harmonic minor scale shape, memorizing the finger pattern, and playing it in every key on the fretboard.

When ready, head below to take this scale shape to a soloing workout over a backing track.

How to Solo with the Harmonic Minor Scale


To finish up your intro to harmonic minor scales, you use the scale shape you learned in the previous section to solo over a backing track.

Review the scale if necessary, then when ready, press play on the jam track below and improvise using that shape.

If you’re new to soloing, don’t overthink it. Play different rhythms, leave some notes out, slide between notes, bend notes, hammer and pull-off notes.

Just have fun being creative and exploring the harmonic minor scale over the backing track in your workout today.

Harmonic Minor Backing Track

Melodic Minor Scale


One of my all-time favorite sounds, melodic minor is used by jazz and fusion guitarists to bring tension to their m7 chords and iim7-V7 progressions.

Only one note different from the major scale, melodic minor is the “tonic minor” sound in jazz and fusion-based music.

Below you learn to build, play, and solo with this essential scale sound for guitar.


Have fun as you dive into the melodic minor scale and add this cool, jazzy sound to your improvised solos.

How to Build the Melodic Minor Scale


In this section, you learn how to build the melodic minor scale using intervals.

The intervals and their distance on the fretboard, used in the melodic minor scale are:

  • m2 = Minor 2nd (no space on guitar, frets 10-11 for example)
  • M2 = Major 2nd (1 fret space on guitar, frets 10-12 for example)

Now that you know those interval distances, here’s how they look when applied to the fretboard in a melodic minor scale shape.

Play this scale, say the intervals as you move between the notes, and get a sense for how this scale sits on the fretboard before moving to the next section.

How to Play a Melodic Minor Scale


You’re now ready to play a melodic minor scale on guitar.

The first thing you want to do is memorize the scale shape, and the quickest, easiest way to do that is to memorize the finger numbers you use.

This is helpful because no matter what key you’re in, your finger order stays the same.

Here, the fingers you use, from 6th string up to 1st string, are:

6th = 1-3-4

5th = 1-3

4th = 1-3-4

3rd = 1-2-4

2nd = 2-4

1st = 1-1-2-4

Start by playing the scale in the given key, memorize the shape and finger numbers, then take it to other keys.

You can play chromatically up the neck, skip a fret and play every 2nd key, or play randomly to hit all 12 keys with the melodic minor scale in your practice routine.

How you play the melodic minor scale in 12 keys is up to you and can change with each scale you learn and in each practice session.

Have fun learning this harmonic minor scale shape, memorizing the finger pattern, and playing it in every key on the fretboard.

When ready, head below to take this scale shape to a soloing workout over a backing track.

How to Solo with the Melodic Minor Scale


To finish up your intro to melodic minor scales, you use the scale shape you learned in the previous section to solo over a backing track.

Review the scale shape if necessary, then when ready, press play on the jam track below and solo using that shape.

If you’re new to soloing, don’t overthink it.

Experiment with different rhythms, leave some notes out, slide between notes, bend notes, hammer and pull-off notes.

Have fun being creative and exploring the melodic minor scale over the backing track in your workout today.

Melodic Minor Backing Track

Diminished Scales


There are two diminished scales in this section, whole-half and half-whole, and both are used in unique ways in modern improvisation.

Being very literal with their names, the whole half dim scale is built by alternating whole and half steps and is used to solo over dim and dim7 chords.

Then, the half whole scale is built by alternating half and whole steps and is used to solo over dominant 7th and 7alt chords.

Below you find background, fingerings, and soloing workouts for both of these diminished scale sounds.

Have fun exploring these symmetrical scales on the fretboard and in your improvisations over chord changes.

How to Build the WH Diminished Scale


In this section, you learn how to build the whole half diminished scale using intervals.

The intervals and their distance on the fretboard, used in the whole half diminished scale are:

  • M2 = Major 2nd (1 fret space on guitar, frets 1-3 for example)
  • m2 = Minor 2nd (no space on guitar, frets 1-2 for example)

Now that you know those interval distances, here’s how they look when applied to the fretboard in a whole half diminished scale shape.

Play this scale, say the intervals as you move between the notes, and get a sense of how this scale sits on the fretboard before moving to the next section.

How to Play a WH Diminished Scale


You’re now ready to play a whole half diminished scale on guitar.

The red dot is the root note. Wherever you place that red dot, that’s the key you’re in.

So, if you place the red dot on the 6th string, 7th fret, it’s a B whole half diminished scale for example.

The first thing you want to do is memorize the scale shape, and the quickest, easiest way to do that is to memorize the finger numbers you use.

This is helpful because no matter what key you’re in, your finger order stays the same.

Here, the fingers you use, from 6th string up to 1st string, are:

6th = 1-3-4

5th = 1-2-4

4th = 1-3-4

3rd = 1-1-3-4

2nd = 2-3

1st = 1-1-3-4

Start by playing the scale in the given key, memorize the shape and finger numbers, then take it to other keys.

You can play chromatically up the neck, skip a fret and play every 2nd key, or play randomly to hit all 12 keys with the WH dim scale in your practice routine.

How you play the WH dim scale in 12 keys is up to you and can change with each scale you learn and in each practice session.

Have fun learning this whole half diminished scale shape, memorizing the finger pattern, and playing it in every key on the fretboard.

When ready, head below to take this scale shape to a soloing workout over a backing track.

How to Solo with the WH Diminished Scale


To finish up your intro to whole half diminished scales, you use the scale shape you learned in the previous section to solo over a backing track.

You also mix in a major and natural minor scale in your solos so keep an eye out for those changes in the blues chord chart below.

Review the scale if necessary, then when ready, press play on the jam track below and improvise using that shape.

If you’re new to soloing, don’t overthink it. Play different rhythms, leave some notes out, slide between notes, bend notes, hammer and pull-off notes.

Just have fun being creative and exploring the whole half diminished scale over the backing track in your workout today.

Whole Half Diminished Backing Track

How to Build the HW Diminished Scale


In this section, you learn how to build the half whole diminished scale using intervals.

To review, intervals are the distance between two notes in the scale.

When you build a scale, the intervals are always the same no matter what key you’re in, what starting note you use for the scale.

For example, a minor 2nd distance is always 1 fret away, frets 1-2 for example, no matter what key you’re in on the fretboard.

The intervals and their distance on the fretboard, used in the half whole diminished scale are:

  • m2 = Minor 2nd (no space on guitar, frets 1-2 for example)
  • M2 = Major 2nd (1 fret space on guitar, frets 1-3 for example)

Now that you know those interval distances, here’s how they look when applied to the fretboard in a half whole diminished scale shape.

Play this scale, say the intervals as you move between the notes, and get a sense of how this scale sits on the fretboard before moving to the next section.

How to Play a HW Diminished Scale


You’re now ready to play a half whole diminished scale on guitar.

The first thing you want to do is memorize the scale shape, and the quickest, easiest way to do that is to memorize the finger numbers you use.

This is helpful because no matter what key you’re in, your finger order stays the same.

Here, the fingers you use, from 6th string up to 1st string, are:

6th = 1-2-4

5th = 1-3-4

4th = 1-1-3-4

3rd = 1-2-4

2nd = 1-3-4

1st = 1-2-4

Start by playing the scale in the given key, memorize the shape and finger numbers, then take it to other keys.

You can play chromatically up the neck, skip a fret and play every 2nd key, or play randomly to hit all 12 keys with the HW dim scale in your practice routine.

How you play the HW dim scale in 12 keys is up to you and can change with each scale you learn and in each practice session.

Have fun learning this half whole diminished scale shape, memorizing the finger pattern, and playing it in every key on the fretboard.

When ready, head below to take this scale shape to a soloing workout over a backing track.

How to Solo with the HW Diminished Scale


To finish up your intro to the half whole diminished scale, you use the scale shape you learned in the previous section to solo over a backing track.

You also mix in a minor blues scale in your solos so keep an eye out for those changes in the chord chart below.

Review the scale if necessary, then when ready, press play on the jam track below and improvise using that shape.

If you’re new to soloing, don’t overthink it. Play different rhythms, leave some notes out, slide between notes, bend notes, hammer and pull-off notes.

Just have fun being creative and exploring the half whole diminished scale over the backing track in your workout today.

Half Whole Diminished Backing Track

Whole Tone Scales


Last but not least, the final scale in this guide is the whole tone scale, which is built solely with whole tone intervals.

Used to create tension over 7th chords, whole tone is a sound that works best when used in small does in your solos.

Though you won’t solo with whole tone as much as other scales, it’s important to have it under your fingers for those moments when you do need this sound.

Have fun learning how to build, play, and solo with whole tone scales in the exercises below.

How to Build the Whole Tone Scale


In this section, you learn how to build the whole tone scale using intervals.

The intervals and their distance on the fretboard, used in the whole tone scale are:

  • M2 = Major 2nd (1 fret space on guitar, frets 1-3 for example)

Note, a whole tone is the same distance as a major 2nd, M2, just a different label for that interval.

Now that you know those interval distances, here’s how they look when applied to the fretboard in a whole tone scale shape.

Play this scale, say the intervals as you move between the notes, and get a sense for how this scale sits on the fretboard before moving to the next section.

How to Play a Whole Tone Scale


You’re now ready to play a whole tone scale on guitar.

In the diagram below, you find a “moveable” scale shape.

What this means, is that the red dot is the root note.

Wherever you place that red dot, that’s the key you’re in.

If you place the red dot on the 6th string, 12th fret, it’s an E whole tone scale for example.

The first thing you want to do is memorize the scale shape, and the quickest, easiest way to do that is to memorize the finger numbers you use.

This is helpful, because no matter what key you’re in, your finger order stays the same.

Here, the fingers you use, from 6th string up to 1st string, are:

6th = 2-4

5th = 1-2-4

4th = 1-3

3rd = 1-3

2nd = 1-2-4

1st = 1-3

Start by playing the scale in the given key, memorize the shape and finger numbers, then take it to other keys.

You can play chromatically up the neck, skip a fret and play every 2nd key, or play randomly to hit all 12 keys with the whole tone scale in your practice routine.

How you play the whole tone scale in 12 keys is up to you and can change with each scale you learn and in each practice session.

Have fun learning this whole tone scale shape, memorizing the finger pattern, and playing it in every key on the fretboard.

How to Solo with the Whole Tone Scale


To finish up your intro to whole tone scales, you use the scale shape you learned in the previous section to solo over a backing track.

You also mix in a minor blues scale in your solos so keep an eye out for those changes in the chord chart below.

Review the scale if necessary, then when ready, press play on the jam track below and improvise using that shape.

If you’re new to soloing, don’t overthink it. Play different rhythms, leave some notes out, slide between notes, bend notes, hammer and pull-off notes.

Just have fun being creative and exploring the whole half scale over the backing track in your workout today.

Whole Tone Backing Track

guitar scales pack