The Major Bebop Scale | Guitar Diagrams and Theory

What's The Major Bebop Scale?

The major bebop scale is an octatonic scale (eight notes) and it will take exactly four beats to play if the eight notes are used. It contains the same notes as the major scale (ionian mode) including a passing tone (#5) between the fifth (5) and the sixth (6).

Major bebop scale


Comparison With The Ionian Mode (Major Scale)

As explains in the chart below, the major bebop scale as an additional note between the 5 and the 6, meaning that you can see it as the Ionian mode with a passing tone.

C Major Scale C D E F G   A B
Formula 1 2 3 4 5   6 7
C Major Bebop Scale C D E F G G# A B
Formula 1 2 3 4 5 #5 6 7

Major Bebop Scale Application

The major bebop scale can be used for improvising over non altered major chords :  Maj7, Maj6, 6/9, sus4, sus2, Maj9, Maj11 and Maj13. Playing the major bebop scale over major chords brings tension because of the #5. 

Notice that the sharp fifth is a passing tone so you need to resolve this note in your major lines and avoid to play it on strong beats. 

What is The Formula and Interval Pattern For The Major Bebop Scale?

The major bebop scale formula is 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - #5 - 6 - 7. The interval pattern is W - W - H - W - H - H - W - H

C Major Bebop Scale C D E F G G# A B
Formula 1 2 3 4 5 #5 6 7
Intervals W W H W H H W H

W = Whole Step      H = Half-Step

10 Easy II V7 Bebop Licks For Guitar With Analysis and Scale Shapes

How To Play The Major Bebop Scale On Guitar?

Here are four major bebop scale guitar fretboard diagrams. It is recommended to play these patterns starting on the chord tones :

  • Root / Tonic (1)
  • Major third (3)
  • Perfect fifth (5)
  • Major seventh (7)

Be sure to play these patterns in twelve keys. Playing the corresponding chord is a good way to make the link between scales and chords. For example if you play the G major bebop scale, just play a Gmaj chord (maj7, maj6).

Major bebop scale for guitar 1

Major Bebop Scale | Two-Octave Guitar Shapes

These two diagrams show how to play the major bebop scale within the space of two octaves.

Major bebop scale guitar positions

Major Bebop Scale - 7 Shapes

The 7 shapes below show how to play the major bebop scale all over the guitar neck.

Major bebop scale guitar diagrams 1

C Major Bebop Guitar Pattern

Here is an easy guitar pattern using the major bebeop scale. You can see the #5 on bar 2, specific to this scale. Notice that it starts with a diatonic enclosure. (D-B-C).

Major bebop jazz guitar lick

II V I Jazz Guitar Lick

This line taken from David Baker's book "How To Play Bebop Vol.2", is a major 2 5 1 progression using the C major bebop scale with an outside note over the I chord.

Please note the use of another bebop scale, the Dorian bebop, over the iim chord.

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Last edited: 2021-05-17

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