Minor Scale Lesson Pack on Guitar: Patterns, Positions and Theory

Sometimes it is necessary to reinforce the theory we learn through practical application. This workbook, with 17 pages of exercises, will help you understand minor scales and play them all over the neck. It will also help you apply the minor scale to contemporary musical situations like chord progressions and improvisation. In this course you will be able to listen to audio examples for each exercise, and also have chord progressions that go with each one. These will help you apply the minor scale musically in other song styles.

The melodic minor scale is sometimes called the jazz minor. It has a unique sound, recognizable among all the other scales because of its mix of the minor third and the major seventh. The melodic minor scale is a very important scale for every jazz guitar player who wants to explore new minor sonorities and sounds.

Here is the sequence repeated over and over: A B C D C D E F E F G A G A B C B C D E

The melodic minor scale is built this way: tonic (1), second (2), minor third (b3), fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.

C melodic minor scale C D Eb F G A B
Formula 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7
Intervals W H W W W W H

Minor Scale Formula

The major scale is more commonly associated with a happy feeling and sound. But the minor scales are just as useful. It’s usually sadder than the major and consist of 7 notes in total, with one being an octave note.

This scale is different because the 3rd is different to that of the “major” scale. The major 3rd in this scale would be 2 whole steps away from the root note instead. The minor scale has a flattened 3rd degree which is 1.5 steps away from the root, making it half a step less “happy” while still sounding familiar and pleasant.

In the table below you can see how G major differs from G minor.

Interval 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
G Major G A B C D E F#
G Minor G A Bb C D Eb F

From this diagram, you can see the natural minor scale formula is as follows:

  • Root
  • Major 2nd
  • Minor 3rd
  • Perfect 4th
  • Perfect 5th
  • Minor 6th
  • Minor 7th

This formula always applies for natural minor scales such as G minor, B minor, E minor etc.

Even though they sound different, the major and minor scales share the same intervals. Each scale contains its own flattened intervals. In comparison, the major scale has a 3rd/, 6th and 7th flattened 3rd/, whereas its minor counterpart has a flattened 6th/ and 7th.

Minor Scale Steps

You learned that the major scale has a pattern of whole & half steps. The minor scale follows a set pattern to:

Whole Step – Half Step – Whole Step – Whole Step – Half Step – Whole Step – Whole Step

  • From G to A is a whole step (2 semitones) (G – G# – A)
  • From A to Bb is a half step (1 semitone) (A – Bb)
  • From Bb to C is a whole step (Bb – B – C)
  • From C to D is a whole step (C – C# – D)
  • From D to b is a half step (D – Eb)
  • From Eb to F is a whole step (Eb– E – F)
  • From F to G is a whole step (F – F# – G)

You can create a minor scale in any key by following this pattern of steps: whole, half, whole. If you started on the root note A and went two frets up while repeating this pattern, that would be the A minor scale.

Minor Scale Patterns and Positions on the Guitar Fretboard

Guitar scales can vary in difficulty, but many of them can be made easier–or more difficult, if you prefer–by acknowledging that they’re grouped together on the fretboard. One shape might be easy to play but difficult to change scales in between.

Below we’ll look at 5 different ways you can play a minor scale. The examples show intervals, fingering and the root note of each position.

Learning the root note positions for each scale shape is a good idea. The root note will act as an anchor point to help you remember all the other notes on the neck. Once you’ve memorized them, you’ll be able to find any scale position by referencing it back to that one.

Position 1

When you first start out, play each note from the G on the 6th string up to the 12th fret. Whenever you start and finish on a low-root note, your ear will be best suited for when those chord changes come around.

The root note in this position is on string 6. The positioning of this note would be the same regardless of what minor scale it’s from – whether it be G, A, E – they’ll always be positioned in the same way.

Position 2

When playing this pattern, start on String 4, continue ascending and descending the fretboard to String 2 of the same root note. This is a position 2 string pattern that starts with an “A” (2nd) root note.

Position 3

Position 3 of the minor scale is found by playing two notes simultaneously. The position starts on a string 5 and you need to play both of these at the same time, going up and down between them.

Position 4

In this position, the root notes are on the 3rd and 5th strings. Press the 3rd string to play from a root note.

Position 5

Position 5 is the only other position to contain three root notes. These root notes are found on strings 6, 3, and 1. Beginning with the root note on string 6, play this pattern through all of them.

Connecting Small-Scale Shapes

If you look closely at the scale, you’ll find there’s a relationship between the neighbouring positions.

To play scales it doesn’t matter which notes you start with, all that matters is that the notes from each position are in the same relative order.

After the 5th position of the model, you can see that the scales are repeated again starting from the first position. See how notes from it overlap with notes from its previous position.

These patterns are valid for all scales, no matter the size. That’s why the pattern is shown in the illustration rather than listing out each of the names of every note in an E-minor scale or a C-major scale. Regardless of which notes make up a given scale, you will always have this interval relationship.

Knowing how to play each minor scale on the guitar will allow you to come up with simple & cool melodies. Any scale can be played in any key by simply changing the root note so, for example, G minor becomes A minor.


Minor scales produce a darker, sadder tone than major scales. It’s created by lowering the 3rd degree of a major scale and follows a whole-step/half-step pattern of W-H-W-W-H-W-W. By following this structure, we end up with 3rds, 6ths and 7ths in different positions of the scale. Revisit these patterns all over the neck to get comfortable with them.

FAQ for Minor Scale Lesson Pack

What is the minor scale lesson pack?

The Minor Scale Lesson Pack is a pack of lessons designed to teach the basics of the minor scale. This pack includes 10 lessons, each with an accompanying video, which will teach you how to play the minor scale on guitar.

What are the objectives of minor scale lesson?

Lesson workbook to help solidify your understanding of minor scale theory. 17-page practice guide with exercises to help you fluently play the minor scale all over the neck, develop licks using the minor scale, and apply the minor scale to chord progressions. Audio examples for each exercise and backing chord progressions to help you apply the minor scale musically.

What are the different minor scales and what do they represent?

The minor scale is a type of musical scale. It has eight notes, and it is the simplest of all the scales. A minor scale is made up of the following intervals: whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step.

This means that a minor scale’s intervals are either three or four semitones. The most common one is C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C which is also known as C Minor.

What are the benefits of learning minor scales?

Minor scales are a great way to add variety to your music. They sound different from major scales and can be used in different ways.

The minor scale has a distinctive sound that is not found in the major scale. It is typically used for sadder songs, but it can also be used for happier songs as well.

There are many benefits of learning about minor scales, such as the ability to create new melodies and song structures and the opportunity to learn more about music theory.

How much time should I spend on minor scale lesson?

The idea of minor scale lessons is to teach students how to solve problems on their own. This is done by providing them with the necessary tools and skills in small doses. The goal is to make sure that they are self-reliant and independent learners.

Minor scale lessons should be short and concise because they are meant to be an introduction or a refresher for what the student already knows. They should not take more than 15 minutes of class time at most, but can be as little as 5 minutes if the skill being taught is very simple.

What is an important note to remember when playing the minor scale?

When playing the minor scale, it is important to remember that you will always start on the first note and end on the same note. The first and last notes in a minor scale are always going to be the same.

How can I practice the minor scale?

The minor scale is a popular scale in Western music. Below are some of the most common ways to practice this scale on guitar:

1) Fret the first string at the third fret. Play the open second string, followed by the open fourth string, followed by the open sixth string. Practice these three notes with your index finger on the first fret (the “F” note). Now play these three notes with your middle finger on the third fret (the “A” note). Finally, play these three notes with your ring finger on the fifth fret (the “C” note). This pattern will help you to practice playing scales in a linear fashion.

2) Fret all six strings at once and practice playing a single octave of scales in various positions across all six strings. This will help you become more familiar with how scales sound across all six strings and should be done before practicing any other type of pattern or exercise.

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