Lets face it, there seems to be so many guitar minor scales around to choose from, how do you know which scale is which and more importantly, which minor scale do you use to get the right sound?
Sadly, because of the seemingly steep learning curve, a musical journey into the world of theory can cause some beginner guitar players to experience frustration and doubt or get a little anxious because they are not really sure what they are meant to be playing. Some guitarists totally ‘freeze up’ from not knowing how all the guitar minor scales fit together or how they relate to each other on the fret board, this can also leave you feeling down and disheartened because your not at ease with the one thing you want and love to do.
Lets clear up the confusion surrounding minor scales and deal with the five most common guitar minor scales and shapes available to us, so you can just get on with the matter at hand – playing the guitar.
Learning the five fingering patterns below to these widely used guitar minor scales will clear up any confusion you may have and give you more than a lifetimes worth of creativity to mess around with.
The Minor Pentatonic Scale
The minor pentatonic scale is a five note scale that can be identified by its minor third interval from the first note of the scale to the second note of the scale. If you ever get stuck for a minor scale to play over a minor chord, this is your safest option, it will work perfectly every time. Everyone uses this scale, now its your turn.
G Minor Pentatonic Scale
Pentatonic scales are more widely used than any other scale as they can be used in nearly all forms of western music. Memorize the pattern or fingering on the low E string, whatever position you start from on the fret board, it is the same for any key that you work in.
The Minor Blues Scale
Once you have the minor pentatonic scale under your fingers you might want to start to play with a more bluesy feel to your music, if so, just insert the ‘blue note’, as it is called into your mix by putting the fourth note between the minor 3rd and 5th of the pentatonic scale:
G Minor Blues Scale
The Dorian Minor Scale
If you want your song to have a bit more of a funky flavour, try the Dorian minor scale. Convert the pentatonic scale into a Dorian minor scale by adding in the 2nd note and the 6th note onto the original five notes. If you have ever heard the term Dorian Funk, it is because the licks or riffs you heard were built from the Dorian scale, the second mode of the major scale. At this point, don’t worry about what all that jargon is I just said, just learn the pattern or fingering and when you have your chance to play over a minor chord, play this shape to get a Dorian sound. Think of it as a pentatonic scale with a couple of other notes.
G Minor Dorian Scale
The Aeolian Minor Scale
The Aeolian minor scale is the sixth of the seven modes from the major scale and starts from the 6th degree of any major scale. You will find it is used extensively in rock and heavy metal settings. Compare the Dorian and Aeolian patterns and you will see that they are practically identical. They differ from each other by just one note, the Aeolian has a flattened 6th note, whereas the Dorian scale has a natural 6.
G Minor Aeolian Scale
When called to play over a minor chord, the pentatonic scale will fit over all guitar minor chords. When the time comes that you feel confident enough to start to experiment, try the Dorian mode and Aeolian mode and see which one you like, just experiment and follow your ears. If you start to feel adventurous you can start to ‘fuse’ different patterns together, hence ‘fusion’ music, don’t be afraid to experiment. Now go and learn the above guitar minor scales.