The Augmented Scale | Guitar Lesson with Diagrams and Exercises

What's The Augmented Scale?

The augmented scale is a hexatonic scale (six-notes scale), the formula is 1 (tonic) - augmented second (#2) #9 - 3 (third) - 5 (fifth) - #5 (augmented fifth) - 7 (seventh). Theoretically you have to apply this scale over dominant seventh raised fifth chords (7#5) but, it can be interesting to play it over any dominant seventh chord when you want to bring a little bit of tension.

Formula Chart

The augmented scale is a symmetrical scale that could be named "minor third-half step scale" because it is made up of three minor thirds and a half-step cell, in other words it is a repeating sequence of minor thirds (3 semitones) and minor seconds (1 semitone). You can also notice that two augmented triads are making this scale.

C augmented scale C D# E G G# B
Formula 1 (#2) #9 3 5 #5 7
Intervals W+H H W+H H W+H H

W=Whole step     H=half step

How to Play the Augmented Scale on Guitar?

These four guitar diagrams show you how to play it on the fretboard. The orange note "1" is the tonic, this is the main note that a scale is built from.

If it's the first time that you play this scale, it is recommended to start from the lowest tonic to the highest and conversely, from the highest to the lowest. You have to do this with each guitar position below. 

Once you're comfortable with these four diagrams and that you simply have to transpose them in twelve keys and try to create your own patterns.

Augmented scale guitar shapes

Augmented Scale Guitar Shapes | Two-octave Positions

These two diagrams represent the augmented scale that runs out two octaves in position. Once again try to play them in twelve keys.

Augmented scale guitar charts

Triads Within the Augmented Scale

The augmented scale can be seen in different ways. Exemples with Caug :

The augmented scale is built with three sequences of minor thirds + minor seconds :

  • C, D#, E = minor third | minor second
  • E, G, G# = minor third | minor second
  • G#, B, C = minor third | minor second

The augmented scale is built with two augmented triads, you need to know that an augmented triad is made up of three notes.:

  • C, E, G# = C augmented triad = Related chord is C+.
  • D#, G, B = D# augmented triad = Related chord D#+

The augmented scale contain 4 other augmented triads:

  • E, G#, C = E augmented triad = Related chord E+
  • G, B, D# = G augmented triad = Related chord G+
  • G#, C, E = G# augmented triad = Related chord G#+
  • B, D#, G = B augmented triad = Related chord B+

The augmented scale contains 3 major triads (root, major third and perfect fifth):

  • C, E, G = C major triad
  • E, G#, B = E major triad
  • G#, C, D# = G# major triad

The augmented scale contains minor triads (root, minor third and perfect fifth) :

  • C, D#, G = C minor triad
  • E, G, B = E minor triad
  • G#, B, D# = G# minor triad

How to Play the Augmented Scale With Augmented Triads?

Here is an example of what we can do with the augmented scale. It's in the key of Bb so we have the following notes Bb, Db, D, F, G, A. The principle is simple, it is to play the six augmented triads from the Bb augmented scale, ascending and descending. These six augmented triads are

  • Bb,D, G named Bb+.
  • Db, F, A (Db+).
  • D, Gb, Bb (D+).
  • F, A, Db (F+).
  • Gb, Bb, C (Gb+).
  • A, Db, F (A+).

The fingering is suggested, feel free to experiment you own fingerings and patterns by trying to replace them into your improvised guitar solos.

How to Play The Augmented Scale Using Minor Triads?

This second pattern is to play the three minor triads from the C augmented scale. Indeed each augmented scale consists of three minor triads. You have to know that a minor triad is made up of a root (1), minor third (b3) and fifth (5). The three minor triads played in the pattern below are :

  • C minor (C, D# and G).
  • E minor (E, G, B).
  • G# minor (G#, B and D#).

In measure one they are played ascending, unlike in bar two where they are played descending .

How to Play the Augmented Scale With Major Triads?

Here is another pattern built with major triads from the C augmented scale, ascending and descending. A major triad consists of a root (1), a major third (3) and a fifth (5). These are :

  • C major built with C, E and G.
  • E major made up of E, G#.
  • B then G major with G, C and D#.
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Last edited: 2022-02-25

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