The altered scale | Guitar lesson with neck diagrams, scale charts and licks
The altered scale
What's the altered scale
The altered scale is the seventh mode of the melodic minor scale. It contains one altered fifth (b5), two altered ninth (b9 and #9) and one altered thirteenth (b13). This scale is used to solo over Dominant chords when you want to create tension in your jazz lines. The altered scale is sometimes referred to as super Locrian mode or Locrian b4.
|G altered scale||G||Ab||Bb||B||Db||Eb||F|
Altered scale against dominant chords
The altered scale is so called because it contains all four common altered notes generally used to add tension when soloing over a dominant chord. These four notes altered notes are b9 - #9 - b13 - b5.
|G altered scale||G||Ab||Bb||B||Db||Eb||F|
|G Dominant chord||G||B||D||F|
Relative altered chords
Altered chords are generally simplified and written "ALT", for example G7b5 or G7b13 can be written G7alt. There are many possible combinations of altered chords because it's impossible to play all of those altered notes in a same chord at the same time. So, the choice is yours, you are free to add one or two extensions to your altered chord, which could give several options :
- and many more...
You need to know that the altered scale sounds good with other altered chords as 7#11 or 7#5, indeed the b5 can be considered as a #11 and the b13 as a #5. In conclusion, every time you see a dominant chord for example, in a II-V-I sequence, you can play an altered scale over the V to create a little bit of tension.
Altered guitar voicings
Here are some guitar neck diagrams of altered chords that fit with the altered scale.
Altered scale | Guitar position 1
How to play the altered scale on guitar
There are many ways to play the altered scale on a guitar. Here are two recommended patterns. To "hear" the sound of this scale it is important to play these patterns starting from the root "R". To play the B altered scale using the first pattern you must put your third finger on the sixth string at the seventh fret.
Altered scale | Guitar position 2
To play the B altered scale using the second pattern you must put your third finger on the fifth string at the fourteenth fret. You have to learn and transpose these patterns in twelve keys by moving the root "R" to the right note keeping the same intervals.
Altered jazz guitar lines
How to play an altered line with a minor triad
In this example, we will apply a minor triad on G7alt to create a strong pull towards CMaj7. Playing a minor triad starting on the b9 of a dominant chord highlight some interesting altered notes as the b9, b13 and #9. This means that in a II-V-I progression in C major you can play an Ab minor triad over G7alt. If you have carefully read the previous section of this lesson named "RELATIVE CHORDS" you will understand that you can play a G7b9 chord, or a G7b13, a G7#9 or even a G7b13#9.
This Printable PDF eBook with audiofiles provides some tips and licks about how to master the altered scale on guitar. Check it out !
How to play an altered line with the dominant pentatonic scale
You are probably wondering what's the dominant pentatonic scale. It contains the four notes of a dominant chord namely root (1), major third (3), perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7) with a supplementary note, the second (2) which can be seen as the ninth (9). The dominant pentatonic scale is commonly used over dominant 7 chords starting on the root, but can be used as a tritone substitution, this where it gets very interesting. Indeed, when playing a Mixolydian pentatonic scale starting on the b5 of a dominant chords you highlight three altered notes, the b5 (aka #11), b13 and b9. The following example takes a major II-V-I progression in C major. You can notice the use of the Db7 dominant pentatonic scale over G7. This creates an interesting sound and a bit of tension.
You can check the eBook on how to master the pentatonic scales to get more jazz lines using only pentatonic scales.
Did you know that there are several pentatonic scales ? This jazz guitar method is an eBook available as a PDF with standard notation, guitar tabs, diagrams, analysis, audio files and backing tracks. You will find in this booklet 25 easy jazz guitar lines built with common and rare pentatonic scales.
The 2-5-1 sequence is the most common chord progression found in jazz music.It's a must know for anyone who wants to learn jazz language.This method is a printable PDF eBook with 20 II-V-I jazz guitar lines both in major and minor keys that will help you expand your improvisation skills over this chord sequence.
A printable PDF eBook with tabs and standard notation containing five guitar studies that will help you to master arpeggios over a jazz blues progression. Many topics are discussed, dominant 7, minor 7, diminished arpeggios.
How to comp a II-V-I chord progression on guitar with drop 2, drop 3 chords, rootless and inverted voicings. This efficient method is a printable PDF eBook that contains 50 exercises with analysis, tabs & standard notation that will help you to play the essential jazz guitar chords over the famous II-V-I progression.
This PDF eBook contains 11 guitar lessons with chords, tabs, standard notation,analysis & audio files about the main blues progressions used in jazz music. The purpose being to hear, play and understand the main jazz blues changes
This PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to learn to master the altered scale. How to develop the altered scale, how to apply it to the V of a II-V-I sequence.
40 easy jazz, blues guitar licks with tabs & scale charts. Printable PDF & eBook method to learn to play in the style of Wes Montgomery & Charlie Christian.
You will find here an eBook available in PDF containing 25 soul jazz and hard bop guitar licks with tabs and standard notation in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, George Benson.These jazz lines come with tabs, standard notation, guitar neck diagrams, backing track for practice and 25 audio files for each riff.
This eBook PDF contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and some diminished 7th arpeggios.
This printable PDF eBook contains 25 minor jazz guitar licks with tabs, video links, analysis. How to play modes, scales & arpeggios over minor chords.
The tritone substitution is explained through 5 jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video links and backing track links. Printable PDF eBook
Last edited: 09/03/2018