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The Melodic Minor Scale - The Five Patterns on Scales

The parent of the famous Altered Scale in five glorius patterns!

The Melodic Minor Scale is a very common scale in Jazz, particularlu the the Super-locrian (also called the Altered Scale) and the Lydian Dominant, not used a great deal in many other styles unless it's adding a jazz flavour!

Video Guitar Lesson

*note this video will be updated shortly!



With each scale I have discussed my preferences for fingering the scale. There are many approaches and so long as you have a logical one, it will be fine. I have thought about these things a lot and think I have a compelling argument in favour of each finger decision, but please contact me (via the forum) if you disagree - I am certainly up for discussing it (how sad... get a life...).

I will also add the alternative shapes and fingerings that I know are in common usage and my reasons for choosing the ones I do. There is no right and wrong.

Tips for learning scales quickly, easily and perfectly

Don't make any mistakes. Play it 4 times perfectly at a very slow speed and you will find you can speed it up without making mistakes and developing bad habits you will have to correct later.

Do not let your fingers "fold", use the tips the whole time, and definitely NO barrés at any point. Ever.

T his will help train your ears into hearing the sound of the major scale, very important. So start on the lowest (pitched) root note, play up as far as you can, then go back down as low as you can, and then back up to the root note.

It is very important that you get all five of these patterns down... eventually, but please start with one at a time - much much better to be able to use one scale shape and play a solo than play five up and down and not be able to do anything with them :)

Root Notes???

A root note gives the scale it's name. Look at any of the scales and arpeggios (and most chords) on this site and you will see an R on some notes. This is note that gives the scale it's note name.

For example
Look at Poistion 1 below and notice that the R is on the 6th string (played with Finger 2). Whatever note you put that one becomes the name of the scale. So place Finger 2 at the 3rd fret and you will play the G Major Scale (because the note on the 3rd fret of the 6th string is the note G). Place Finger 2 on the 9th fret and you will play the C# Major Scale (because the note at the 9th fret of the 6th string is the note C#).

The Scale Shapes

Melodic Minor Pattern 1

Pattern 1 (CAGED: E shape)

This is the most commonly learnt Melodic Minor scale pattern. It is pretty easy to play.

None that I know of. This is it.

Starting on the lowest note will give you the Super Locrian mode (I call it the Altered Scale) which is one of the most common ways this scale is used.

Melodic Minor Pattern 2

Pattern 2 (CAGED: D shape)

This is what it is ;)

The most common alternative is to move the last note on the 5th string (played with 4th finger) over to the 4th string, and using the 1st finger. This will mean you have to slide up with your first finger to the next note, but that can be a funky effect, probably not best for speed though.

Melodic Minor Pattern 3

Pattern 3 (CAGED: C shape)

From the lowest note this will sound like the Lydian #5 mode - but you're going to start on the root note and hear it as the Melodic Minor scale, aren't you? :).

None that I now of. This is it.

Melodic Minor Pattern 4

Pattern 4 (CAGED: A shape)

This should be the second position you learn. Don't forget to start on the root note, not the lowest note...

The most common alternative is to move the last note on the second string (played with 4th finger) to the first string (then played with 1st finger). I prefer this position because it stays close to the Major scale shape that we use and also it keeps the notes around the chord shape.

Melodic Minor Pattern 5

Pattern 5 (CAGED: G shape)

This is the last one :)

None that I know of...




Lesson ID: SC-604