Mixing Guitar Scales - Lesson 1

One of the major challenges that aspiring improvisers face is developing the ability to change from one scale to the next in a fluid manner. It can be quite frustrating to be able to blaze with confidence on a single scale…only to "crash-and-burn" if you have to solo over a progression that requires multiple scales to be used! So I designed this series of lessons to help you get more comfortable with mixing different scales when soloing.

In this guitar lesson we are going to lay the foundation for the next couple of lessons. We'll do that by looking at a nice sounding chord progression, and then looking at the scales we'll use to solo over that progression.

The Battle Field

Please check out the chord progression below…

Mixing Guitar Scales - Rhythm Guitar Part

The good news is that this progression uses just two chords…

  • A sus2 (add7) - 1 2 5 7
  • C min (add9) - 1 b3 5 9

The bad news is that the chord voicings that I've chosen are fairly challenging. (They use quite big stretches…so be sure to warm-up fully before playing them).

But don't worry…

If you're not yet at a level where stretches like these are comfortable, then check out the TAB below. I've created a simplified version that uses just power chords. (This means that you can still work on this lesson with risking pain or injury to your fretting-hand!). Check it out below…

Mixing Guitar Scales - Simplified Rhythm Guitar Part

The Scales That We'll Use

OK. Now the fun stuff. Let's now look at a couple of guitar scales that we can use to solo over the progression. Although there are numerous guitar scales that we could use for each chord, for this lesson we'll use the following…

  • Over the A sus2(add7) use the A Lydian mode. (This scale uses the following scale degrees: 1 2 3 #4 5 6 and 7).
  • Over the C min (add9) use the C Dorian mode. (This scale uses the following scale degrees: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 and b7).

[Important: If you don't know what scale degrees are then I recommend subscribing to The Guitar Mastery Newsletter. It's totally free, and I cover some essential guitar scale theory that you will probably find really helpful].

Although over the long-term it would be awesome to learn both these scales over the entire fretboard, for this lesson we'll use the following two scale fingerings…

A Lydian Mode:

A Lydian Mode

C Dorian Mode: 

C Dorian Mode

Notice with the C Dorian mode fingering that I haven't started the scale from the root note. Instead I have started the scale from the 6. Yes…you can do this. And the reason why I have done this will become very clear in the next lesson. You'll just have to wait until then. ;-) 

Your Homework

I recommend doing the following before the next lesson…

  • Learn one of the chord progressions and practice it until you can play it at a minimum of 100 bpm.
  • Record the chord progression that you practiced onto your computer. (Record at least a couple of minutes of you playing the progression). Don't worry about the sound quality too much. The goal is to record the progression so that you can solo over it later.
  • Memorize the two scale fingerings. For maximum benefit you should memorize the notes and scales degrees of each fingering, rather than just learning the shape.

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