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Jazz Guitar Scales

Jazz Guitar Scales is part 14 in a 14 part series on learn to play guitar lessons. In these jazz guitar lessons free information is available on all of the guitar scales. We will discuss not only diatonic scales like the e minor scale, but also the harmonic minor scale and the melodic minor scale.

In jazz, you can use all of the scales we have covered in the earlier parts of this course. Jazz guitar greats utilize everything from their palette like a painter with many colors to choose from.

Jazz guitarists will use the blues scale, rock scales and of course all of the scales we are about to discuss. Remember, the more we understand about jazz guitar theory the better songwriters we become!


Diatonic just means that the notes or chords played are within the key you are in. Therefore, if we take the key of G Major, the notes in this scale are: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#

If we begin on a different letter or scale degree and travel up the octave still playing the notes in the key of G Major, we get a different scale. These are actually called modes.


*for a review of scale patterns see: C Major Scale and A minor scale

G Ionian (regular major scale) - G, A, B, C, D, E, F# (G)
A Dorian (minor scale w/ sharp 6th) - A, B, C, D, E, F#, G (A)
B Phrygian (minor scale w/ a flat 2nd) - B, C, D, E, F#, G, A, (B)
C Lydian (major scale with sharp 4th) - C, D, E, F#, G, A, B, (C)
D Mixolydian (major scale w/ flat 7th) - D, E, F#, G, A, B, C, (D)
E Aeolian (natural minor scale) - E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, (E)
F# Locrian (diminished scale) - F#, G, A, B, C, D, E, (F#)

Here they are on a staff in the key of C Major:


Here are two more important jazz guitar scales to consider.


*for a full review of harmonic minor and melodic minor see: Music Theory Scales and E minor scale

1. A harmonic minor scale is a natural minor scale with a sharp 7.

An E harmonic minor scale has E, F#, G, A, B, C, D# (E) and looks like this:

2. A melodic minor scale is one scale when ascending and another when descending. On the way up it is a major scale with a flat 3rd. On it's way down it becomes a natural minor scale.

An E melodic minor scale has E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D# on the way up and E, D, C, B, A, G, F# (E) on the way down and looks like this:

For a complete list of all notes in all keys of all music theory scales, visit: Musical Scales.

Thanks for visiting Jazz Guitar Scales. Let's conclude our course with some fingerpicking guitar techniques.

Continue to Appendix A, Fingerpicking Guitar Techniques

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