In a recent post we looked at the importance of learning different modes on guitar, as well as the usefulness of the pentatonic scale. This time we will build on all of that, exploring the whole-tone scale as well as the natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales.


Check out more articles on scales and modes here.


Whole Tone Scale: Perfect Symmetry

One of the most interesting scales to play on guitar is the whole-tone: a symmetrical collection of six notes, in which each pitch is a whole-tone (major second) apart. The scale is known for its ambiguous, dreamlike quality and has been used to great effect by composers such as Claude Debussy and jazz musicians like Thelonious Monk. Learn more about the whole-tone scale—and keep your fingers limber—through this Weekly Workout.


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Making Fancy Chords with Pairs of Sixths and More

In popular Western music, chords and chord progressions are typically derived from the major and natural minor scales. However, you can use any scale to generate unusual chordal ideas. In this lesson, Adam Levy teaches how you can make harmonies from pairs of sixths using not just the natural minor but also the harmonic and melodic minor scales. All are in E minor but can be transposed to any other minor key.

For the adventurous, in this Weekly Workout, Ron Jackson shows how to build complex and colorful chords from the harmonic and melodic minor scales—great ways of breaking away from using the same old boring chords.

Book cover for Guitar Scale and Mode Mastery: 12 technique-building lessons

To dive more deeply into scales, check out Guitar Scale and Mode Mastery, available at store.acousticguitar.com.