Learn The Minor Scale On Guitar

Lead Guitar

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In this lead guitar lesson, we'll be taking a first look at the natural minor scale. Just like the major scale, the natural minor scale is one of the essential scales used on the guitar, and in time it will become an important part of your lead guitar arsenal. The focus of this lesson will be on getting familiar with how the minor scale is made, how it differs from the major scale, and how to apply a simple minor scale shape to a jam track.

How To Build The Natural Minor Scale

We'll be looking at three ways to build the natural minor scale in this guitar lesson. The first way is to start with the major scale. We'll be using a C major scale because there are no sharps or flats that you need to worry about.

C Major Scale

To turn this C major scale into a C minor scale, we just have to take three notes and lower them by one half-step. The notes we lower are the 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes in the major scale. Once we've lowered those notes we're left with a C minor scale.

C Minor Scale

Just like the major scale, there is a minor scale formula that you can use to build a minor scale from scratch using whole-steps (W) and half-steps (H). The major scale formula follows the pattern W, W, H, W, W, W, H. The minor scale formula follows the pattern W, H, W, W, H, W, W.

C Minor Scale Formula

Lastly, you can take a modal approach to the minor scale. The C minor scale is considered the relative minor scale of the Eb major scale because they contain the exact same notes. To turn an Eb major scale into a C minor scale you would simply have to start on the 6th note (C) in the Eb major scale.

Musical Application

For the application part of this lesson, we'll be using a simple C minor scale shape that starts on the 6th string and only travels one octave.

One Octave C Minor Scale Shape

Work on getting this new scale shape under your fingers. Once you feel comfortable with it, pull up the jam track and try playing the scale along to it. Don't worry too much about being creative right away and just focus on listening to how the minor scale sounds when played over the simple C minor 7 groove.


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