Standard Guitar Scales

In order to have a really good understanding of musical temperaments and microtonal guitar theory it is important that you have a very firm understanding of scales and how they relate to each other for any key that you are in.  Let's look below at scales on the 1st position Major Scale starting on the 5th fret A (this can be in any key starting on the 2nd fret to have the same finger pattern, of course the key would be whatever note you are starting on).  What I want you to focus on is that we are looking at the scales for the 1, 4 and 5 chords based on the major scale for the parent key.  So the 4 and 5 scales are the Lydian and Mixolydian modes for the respective keys. The intervals listed for each scale are from the perspective of the root for each key. I find it very useful to think of your scales as intervals and always have an understanding of what the interval the note you are on is in in relation to the scale that you are playing.

Hover over the scale name to see the same notes from the major scale and the intervals from that starting note as the root.

 

For future reference below is a table in the key of C of the 7 basic modes and their descriptions, note these scales are all "parallel" to the key of C Major (the scales are all derived with the same notes from the C Major Scale).


Parallel Modes

Mode Notes Explanation
Ionian C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C This is also the basic major scale, the half steps occur
between the 3rd and 4th,and 7th and 8th steps
Dorian D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D Minor derivative, half steps between 2nd and 3rd,
and 6th and 7th steps
Phrygian E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E Minor derivative, half steps between the 1st and 2nd
and 6th and 7th steps
Lydian F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F Major derivative, half steps between 4th and 5th,
and 7th and 8th steps
Mixolydian G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G Major derivative, half steps between 3rd and 4th,
and 6th and 7th steps
Aeolian A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A This is also the basic minor scale, half steps between
the 2nd and 3rd and 5th and 6th
Locrian B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B This is a diminished type scale, the half steps fall between
the 1st and 2nd  and 5th and 6th steps

Major Scales - Combined

Now let's look at the major scale for the 1,4, and 5 chords in the Key of A and then look at a combined scale that is the combination of the notes that are missing from the A major.  Note the D major scale has a G that isn't in the A major scale, and the E major scale has a D# that isn't in the A major scale.

For the combined scale the intervals are all listed from the perspective of the Key of A.  I would encourage you to start relating scales to each other as much as possible.  So recognize that E is the 5th of A, the 2nd of D, and, of course, the root of E, A is the root of A, the 5th of D and the 4th of E, etc.

Hover over the scale name to see the intervals.


Mixolydian Scales - Combined

Let's look at one more example of a "combined" scale. This time we will look at the mixolydian scale, or Dominant 7 scale, as it's sometimes referred to. This scale is a major scale with a flatted 7th scale degree. For this combined scale we have the A Mixolydian with the flatted 3rd (the perfect 4th from the D mixolydian scale) and the major 7th (the major 3rd from the E mixolydian scale).

Once again think about how the intervals in the combined scale relate back to the 1,4, and 5 scales.  So for example using the two additional notes from the combined scale, the flatted 7th of the D scale is the minor 3rd of the A and the major 3rd of the E scale is the major 7th of the A scale.

Hover over the scale name to see the intervals.

Click on the video below for a video presentation of this lesson.

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