Essential Scales for Blues, Rock, Metal and Jazz Guitar

A Step-By-Step Guide To Fretboard Mastery
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  • Lectures 51
  • Length 3 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 9/2015 English

Course Description

Course Description

Learn the five scales that will take your guitar playing to the next level.

Build a strong musical foundation by mastering the ideas included in this tutorial.

  • Learn minor pentatonic, blues, natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales
  • Learn how to connect scale patterns to span the entire fretboard
  • Learn practice patterns, routines, and tips
  • Download jam tracks and scale diagrams for each scale
  • Apply what you learn to actual music
  • Increase technique, accuracy, speed and fretboard awareness

This course will take you from zero to little knowledge of scales to a player with a mastery of the most essential scales for guitar. The best part is that you don't have to wait until you are weeks or months into the course to start applying what you are learning. After just a few short lessons, you will be applying what you are learning to full band jam tracks – or better yet – with your own band.

Content and Overview

Suitable for beginner to intermediate guitar players, this course of almost 50 lectures, will take you to the next level – not only in your knowledge of scales but in your playing as a whole. Scales are the foundation of all music and the scales that you will learn in the course are, in our opinion, the most important scales for blues, rock and metal players.

“The practice of scales solves the greatest number of technical problems in the shortest amount of time.” – Andres Segovia

Beginning with the minor pentatonic scale, we will start learning how to improvise over a chord progression. We will expand our phrasing possibilities with the blues scale before moving on to the natural minor scale.

With the lectures on the natural minor scale, we will get into a little theory about scales and their relationship to chords. You will be introduced to scale shapes that lend themselves to fast playing that you might hear from guys like Paul Gilbert or John Petrucci.

The discussions on the harmonic minor and melodic minor scales we will expand our knowledge of scale degrees and their relationship to chords.

By completing the course, you will shape yourself into another class of player – able to confidently step into any musical situation.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Close to 50 lectures (with more coming) covering the 5 essential scales for blues, rock, metal, and jazz
  • Downloadable PDF diagrams of all scale patterns
  • Downloadable, full-band jam tracks (more to come) to apply your new skills
  • Video breakdown of each scale and scale position
  • Patterns that can be used for practice or for inclusion in your own solos

What are the requirements?

  • Students need a guitar and the drive to learn - that is all!

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Play the minor pentatonic scale, blues scale, natural minor scale, harmonic minor scale, and melodic minor scale in any key anywhere on the fretboard.
  • Apply the scale knowledge aquired to improvise solos over chord progressions in various styles.

Who is the target audience?

  • Beginning guitarists that are ready to learn how to play melodies or solos at a high level.
  • Intermediate or advanced guitarists that can already play pretty good by ear but are ready to take the next step and expand their knowledge of scales.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Course Introduction
Welcome to the Course!
Practice Tools
Section 2: The Minor Pentatonic Scale

This lesson explains what a scale actually is and what makes each scale unique. It will also break down the whole fretboard in a way that makes it a little less menacing to think about. at the end of this lesson you will understand what intervals are and how intervals are the building blocks that make up scales.


In this video you will learn the difference between a minor scale and a major scale, the differences in the natural minor scale and the minor pentatonic scale and most importantly, you will learn the first position or shape of the minor pentatonic scale.


In this lesson you will begin to learn how to apply the Minor Pentatonic scale to actual music. After completing this lesson you will be ready to start improvising over the jam track provided in the next lecture.


This is just a demonstration of how you can apply the first shape of the minor pentatonic scale over the 12-bar blues jam track (coming up in the next lesson). The demo is purposely kept simple - no bends, no vibrato, no hammer-ons, etc. This is to demonstrate that music can already be made by just knowing one shape of the minor pentatonic.


This is a 12-bar blues jam track in A minor. Use the jam track to practice improvising using the minor pentatonic scale in the key of A. You can also use this jam track later when you learn the Blues scale.

The chord changes will appear in the top, left corner of the video.

An mp3 version is available for download under the resources tab.


In this video you will learn the second position of the minor pentatonic scale.


It's time to break out of the box! This video will show you how to connect the two shapes you have learned so that you can move effortlessly between the shapes.


In this video you will learn the third shape of the minor pentatonic.

The Minor Pentatonic Scale - Shape 4

Here you will learn the final pattern of the minor pentatonic scale and also learn how you will now be able to play the scale anywhere on the neck.


In this video, you will learn how to move the scale patterns that you have learned so that you can play in any key.


In this video you will see how you can use a metronome to get the most out of your practice sessions. You will start off practicing the shapes you already know using 8th notes and then move on to practicing the shapes using triplets. The use of the subdivision feature on the metronome will help you emphasize the different rhythmic groupings.


This is the first of four variations that you can use to practice the minor pentatonic scale. Incorporate this into your practice and your technique and phrasing will greatly improve.


Here is another practice routine you can use when practicing the minor pentatonic scale (or any other scale). This can easily be incorporated when you improvise over a chord progression.


The pattern you will learn in this video is a group of 6 notes. It is great not only for alternate picking but also for hammer-ons and pull-offs.

The Minor Pentatonic - Practice Routine 4
The Minor Pentatonic Scale - Typical Practice Routine Demo
Section 3: The Blues Scale

Now we will expand upon what we learned in the section on the minor pentatonic scale. You will learn the blues scale along with a couple of extra "blue notes" that you can use to go beyond the blues scale.


In this video, you will learn the 2nd position of the blues scale.


This video shows you the 3rd position of the minor blues scale. The flat 5 shows up in this pattern three times for 3x the bluesy goodness.


This video will show you the 4th position of the blues scale.


In this video you will learn the 5th position of the blues scale. You will also learn how you can use string bending to get to the blue note instead of fretting the note. Finally, you'll learn how you can use the blue note in the turnaround at the end of the 12-bar blues progression.

Section 4: The Natural Minor Scale - Box Shapes

In this lesson you will learn how diatonic chords are built on the scale degrees of a scale.


If you play a lot of rock, metal, or even blues, you will find yourself playing a lot of power chords. This video will explain what power chords are and how playing power chords, as opposed to triads, can affect your choice of scales.


In this lesson you will learn the first scale shape for the natural minor scale.


In this lesson you will learn the second scale shape for the natural minor scale.

Natural Minor - Shape 3
Natural Minor - Shape 4
Natural Minor - Shape 5
Natural Minor - Shape 6
Natural Minor - Shape 7
Natural Minor - Practice Pattern #1
Natural Minor - Practice Pattern #2
Natural Minor - Practice Pattern #3

The chord progression in this jam track consists of chords that are diatonic to the D natural minor scale. You can improvise over it using the Natural Minor scale. You should also experiment with using the minor pentatonic and blues scales. an mp3 of the jam track is available under the resources tab.

Section 5: The Natural Minor - 3 Notes Per String

3-note-per-string scales were popularized by guys like Paul Gilbert. Using 3-note-per-string scales, you can evenly group notes in three or six note patterns to achieve that extra burst of speed. These scale patterns also lend themselves to moving up and down the fretboard.

The Natural Minor - 3 Notes Per String - Position 2
The Natural Minor - 3 Notes Per String - Position 3
The Natural Minor - 3 Notes Per String - Position 4
The Natural Minor - 3 Notes Per String - Position 5
The Natural Minor - 3 Notes Per String - Position 6
The Natural Minor - 3 Notes Per String - Position 7
The Natural Minor - 3 Notes Per String - Practice Pattern 1
The Natural Minor - 3 Notes Per String - Practice Pattern 2
The Natural Minor - 3 Notes Per String - Bonus Practice Pattern
Section 6: The Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor Scales

The harmonic minor has been around for centuries but became very popular with rock and metal players in the 80s with the emergence of Yngwie Malmsteen. He certainly wasn't the first rock or metal player to use the harmonic minor scale but there is no question that Yngwie spawned a neoclassical movement in the late 80s and early 90s that made heavy use of harmonic minor.


Melodic minor can, in many cases, substitute for the harmonic minor. The raised 6th can result in a smoother melody than what you might hear with harmonic minor.


Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor Jam Track in C

With this jam track you can use a combination of all of the scales you have learned.

This chord progression contains a G minor chord and a G major chord. The G in the key of c minor is the V chord. Remember that in the natural minor scale, the chord built on the 5th degree of the scale is a minor chord. The first G chord in the progression that you encounter is diatonic to the C Natural Minor.

Near the end of the progression, we want a stronger resolution back to C, so we used the raised 7th degree in our G chord making it a G Major instead of a G minor. Over the G Major chord, you can use harmonic minor or melodic minor.

Another chord to pay attention to is the D diminished chord. While the jam track is playing, you will see it labeled as D Diminished but actually it is a D diminished 7 chord which contains the raised 7th, also. So, once again you can use harmonic minor or melodic minor.

The cool thing about the chord progression is that the last 4 chords (D diminished, G Major, C minor, and G Major) will all sound great using harmonic or melodic minor.

The chord progression is C minor, G minor, F minor, Ab minor, D diminished, G major, C minor, G major.

My suggestion would be to use C minor pentatonic, C blues, or C natural minor over the first four chords and use harmonic minor and melodic minor over the last four chords. The chord progression repeats four times.

Have fun!

Bonus Jam Track in E minor

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Instructor Biography

Adam Saunders, Guitar Instructor at Udemy and founder of RiffSchool

My name is Adam and I have been playing guitar for over 25 years. I studied music theory and classical guitar in college but my true passion is electric guitar. After college, I attended the Atlanta Institute of Music where I studied with some great instructors including Jimmy Herring. I've got some great courses coming up so stay tuned.

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