Guitar Scales – Melodic minor modes and their shapes

The modes of Melodic minor are very similar to the modes of the major scale. The only difference between the modes of the major and the modes of the melodic minor scale is the 3rd. Both scales contain exactly the same notes, except the melodic minor has a lowered third. Each of these scales are their own identity, but for this lesson I am going to teach them how they relate to one key across the neck.

This scale is not used much in musical genres other than jazz and classical. There are differences between the melodic minor scale in jazz and the melodic minor scale in classical. For this lesson I am going to show you the jazz melodic minor scale. The difference is in classical music the melodic minor scale ascends with the melodic minor scale and descends with the natural minor scale. In jazz the melodic minor scale is the ascending part. They exclude the descending switch. The guitar Scales you will learn in this lesson are the jazz melodic minor. Let’s dive in and learn these.

guitar scales

This is the Melodic Minor Mode

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This is the Dorian b2 Mode.

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This is the Lydian Augmented Mode.

guitar scales

This is the Lydian Dominant Mode.

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This is the Mixolydian b6 Mode.

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This is the Semilocrian Mode.

guitar scales

This is the Superlocrian Mode.

As you can see there are some stretches in the fingerings. I suggest you finger those with the first (index) finger, middle finger and pinky. This is the easiest stretching. If you use your ring finger you will have a huge stretch between your ring and pinky fingers. Most people find stretching their first and middle fingers the easiest way to play those stretches.

Transpose these melodic minor scale shapes to all 12 keys. Make sure you know them well before you move on. These guitar scales are known as the jazz melodic minor scales, because they ascend and descend the same way. A great way to become familiar with these scales is to make up licks with them, play around with them and start using them in your playing. Below are all of these scales listed in order for your convenience in learning. Try to memorize their name with the shape; this will make further learning easier.

Melodic minor, Dorian b2, Phrygian dominant, Lydian dominant, mixolydian b6, semilocrian and superlocrian

Guitar Scales – Modes Shapes

In this Post I am going to show you the patterns for the major modes. If you have not read the post called “Introduction to guitar scales – modes” I recommend you read that first. I put all the fingerings on each diagram so you can see how you finger it. I put an R on each diagram as well which indicates the Root of the key. All these scale patterns are based off of the G major Scale.

When you memorize these scale patterns I suggest you then transpose them to every key. Become very familiar with these scales in all 12 keys. Let’s get started and jump into it.

guitar scales

This is the Root position major scale, also called the Ionian Mode. You start this with the second finger.

guitar scales

This is the Dorian Mode.

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This is the Phrygian Mode.

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This is the Lydian Mode.

guitar scales

This is the mixolydian Mode.

guitar scales

This is the Aeolian Mode, Also known as natural minor.

guitar scales

This is the Locrian Mode.

By the time you place all these shapes you should be an octave higher playing the first scale again. Do not worry about memorizing each scale shape in 1 day. Learn the major scale First, once you have that memorized then memorize the Dorian. Keep reviewing these scales even if you have them memorized already. These scales need to become second nature to you.

Keep in mind. Guitar makes shapes easy to move. For you to play in A-major just move these scale shapes up a whole step. That is what makes guitar unique from many other instruments. These patterns will never change, but the position you play them in will. Good luck!

Introduction to guitar scales – Modes

Seven 0’clock, and the alarm clock starts screaming. Ionian Mode rolls out of bed to get an early start on the day. He starts by making his wife Dorian Mode a couple pancakes and wakes her up by the smell of the pancakes so she can eat them in bed. Ionian then goes to wake up their 5 kids to get ready for school. He first wakes up his daughter Phrygian who is a sweet little 7-year-old girl. Then Ionian wakes up his 2 sons Lydian and Mixolydian. Mixolydian is their oldest son and he shows many traits like his father. Then Ionian finally finishes waking up the horde with yelling for their daughters Aeolian and Locrian to wake up. Now that everyone is awake they continue to live their day.

What does the above story have to do with modes? Well it is quite simple. A mode is a family of scales. They have a parent scale which all of the scales come from.  As mentioned in the above story Ionian (Major) Scale is the father of the mode family. All of the other modes contain exactly the same notes as the father. In other words, each mode has the exact same biological Make. There is only 1 difference between these scales.

The note these scales start and end on is what determines the mode. You have the major (Ionian) scale, if you start the major scale on the second note and end it on the second note then it becomes a Dorian Scale.  If you continue this process and start the major scale on the third note and end it on the third note it then becomes a Phrygian scale.  Pretend you are playing musical chairs. There is 1 black chair and 6 white chairs. The black chair is the root chair. You start walking around the chairs and the music stops. You sit down on a white chair. This chair is one of the modes of the major scale. The music starts to play again so you walk around over and over, stop! You sit down on the black chair. This is the major scale chair.

You may be asking what the difference between a guitar scale and a mode is. The difference is a Scale is a group of notes played in Ascending and Descending motion. A mode on the other hand is a Scale derived from another scale. A mode is part of a family. It has a father and siblings.

There is one more lesson to be learned from the first story. The Gender of a Scale is important. Is it a major scale or a minor scale? In the story above all the major scales have been labeled as Males. Likewise, all the minor scales have been labeled as Females.  This is important to know because you will be using these scales over chords and different keys. I recommend you memorize the names of the major scale modes, the order in which they go and if they are minor or major scales. To learn the scale shapes for all the major scale modes please check out my other blog post on mode shapes here. Below is a list of the major mode names in order.

Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian.