Scales & Modes

What's a Scale in Music?

A scale is a sequence of ascending or descending pitches that form a palette of notes that can be used to create melodies or improvised lines. The notes have differing intervals between them, sometimes it's one half-step (semitone), other times it's a whole step (two semitones). 

The links below give you free access to several lessons covering the main types of scales used on guitar.

What Are The Main Musical Scales?

There are many types of musical scales  : 

  • Diatonic scales (constructed from a mix of half-steps and whole-steps)
  • Chromatic scales (every half note in an octave).
  • Whole-tone scales (notes a whole step apart).
  • Pentatonic scales (the most used scales).
  • Hexatonic scales (six pitches per octave).
  • Bebop scales (eight notes scales).
  • Symmetric scales.

Scales can even include quarter-tones and micro tones in the music of other cultures.

What Is a Musical Mode?

A mode is a specific type of scale. Each such sequence created by starting on a different note of a scale is a mode of that scale. In other words, a mode can be seen as a scale within a scale.

Example with the most common scales:

  • The Major Scale contains seven modes that are :
    1. Ionian (starting on the first note of the major scale)
    2. Dorian (starting on the 2nd step)
    3. Phrygian (3rd step)
    4. Lydian (4th step)
    5. Mixolydian (5th step)
    6. Aeolian (6th step)
    7. Locrian (7th step)
  • The harmonic minor scale contains seven modes too:
    1.  Harmonic minor scale
    2.  Locrian 13 or Locrian 6
    3.  Ionian #5.
    4. Dorian #11.
    5. Phrygian dominant.
    6. Lydian #2.
    7. Super locrian bb7.
  • The melodic minor scale modes are:
    1. Melodic minor aka jazz minor scale. 
    2. Dorian b9.
    3. Lydian augmented.
    4. Lydian dominant..
    5. Mixolydian b13..
    6. Locrian #2.
    7. Super locrian.

You will find below a non-exhaustive list of scales used in jazz an many other styles of music. Each lesson provides guitar scale charts, shapes, theory, tabs and exercises for practicing modes on guitar. Click on the links to access the categories.


Related PDF Methods

The following pics below show the PDF methods available on JGL that deal with scales. 


  • Modes of the Major Scale

    The seven modes of the major scale (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian).

  • Modes of the Harmonic Minor Scale

    The seven modes of the harmonic minor scale (Harmonic minor, Locrian 6, Ionian #5, Dorian #11, Phrygian dominant, Lydian #2, super Locrian bb7).

  • Modes of The Melodic Minor Scale

    The seven modes of the melodic minor scale (melodic minor, Dorian b9, Lydian augmented, Lydian dominant, Mixolydian b13, Locrian #2, super Locrian)

  • Modes of the Harmonic Major Scale

    The seven modes of the Harmonic major scale (harmonic major, Dorian b5, Phrygian b4, Lydian b3, Mixolydian b2, Lydian augmented #2, Locrian bb7).

  • Modes of The Double Harmonic Scale

    The seven modes of the double harmonic scale (Double Harmonic Major, Lydian Sharp Second Sharp Sixth, Ultraphrygian / Phrygian b4 bb7, Hungarian / Gypsy Minor / Harmonic Minor, Oriental / Mixolydian b5 b9, Ionian Augmented #2, Locrian bb3 bb7)


  • Bebop Scales

    Bebop scale charts and shapes.

  • Pentatonic Scales

    ​Pentatonic scales, charts, theory, licks and shapes for guitar.

  • Blues Scales

    Blues scale shapes, theory and charts.


  • Symmetric Scales

    Symmetric scales, licks, theory, charts and shapes.