How to Play the Melodic Minor Scale On Guitar

Published Categorized as Guitar lessons, Scales

In previous lessons we have looked at the natural and harmonic minor scales. In this lesson we finish off the trio by showing you how to play the melodic minor scale on guitar.

melodic minor scale on guitar

The 3 Minor Scales

As we learnt in the previous lessons, there are 3 different minor scales.

  • The Natural Minor Scale
  • The Harmonic Minor Scale
  • The Melodic Minor Scale

The Natural Minor Scale

let’s just recap quickly on the natural minor scale because the melodic minor scale is very similar.

If you haven’t seen the natural minor scale lesson you can check it out at the link below.

But for a quick recap, the natural minor scale goes like this:

  • Start on the root note; then
  • Whole step (W)
  • Half Step (H)
  • Whole Step (W)
  • Whole Step (W)
  • Half Step (H)
  • Whole Step (W)
  • Whole Step (W)

Using “A” minor as the example scale this is A, B, C, D, E, F, & G and back to A.

The Melodic Minor Scale

The melodic minor is only slightly different to the natural and it goes like this:

  • Start on the root note; then
  • Whole step (W)
  • Half Step (H)
  • Whole Step (W)
  • Whole Step (W)
  • Whole Step (W)
  • Whole Step (W)
  • Half Step (H)

Using “A” melodic minor as the example scale this is A, B, C, D, E, F#, G# and back to A.

Or said another way:

  • root – 1 step – ? step – 1 step – 1 step – 1 step – 1 step – ? step

Usually the melodic minor is only used ascending and when descending back down the scale the natural minor is used.

The Melodic Minor Scale in Guitar Tab

Again we will use the A minor scale as out example scale. This is to be consistent with the other lessons and so you can more easily understand the differences between the natural, harmonic and melodic scales.

If you aren’t sure about how to read guitar tab check out the lesson at the link below.

The A Minor Melodic Scale in the open Position

First let’s see how it goes in the open position and then we?ll take a look at an exercise and then move take a look at it in a different position further up the fretboard.

e:------------------------|
B:------------------------|
G:-------------------1--2-|
D:----------0--2--4-------|
A:-0--2--3----------------|
E:------------------------|

Now to make it more interesting and so that you are learning the notes of the scale on all of the strings try this exercise (remember when descending the scale we are using a natural minor scale):

e:----------------------------------0--2--4--5--3--1--0----------------|
B:-------------------------0--1--3----------------------3--1--0--------|
G:-------------------1--2----------------------------------------2--0--|
D:----------0--2--4----------------------------------------------------|
A:-0--2--3-------------------------------------------------------------|
E:---------------------------------------------------------------------|
e:-------------------------------------|
B:-------------------------------------|
G:-------------------------------------|
D:-3--2--0-----------------------------|
A:-----------3--2--0-----------------0-|
E:--------------------3--1--0--2--4----|

I really enjoy this exercise (geeky I know!) because it is a little more complex because you are doing something different when you are ascending and descending the scale.

A Melodic Minor Starting on the 5th Fret 6th String

Now let’s take a look at the A melodic minor a little further up the fretboard.

e:----------------------------------------4--5--7--8--8--7--5----------|
B:----------------------------------5--7-----------------------8--6--5-|
G:-------------------------4--5--7-------------------------------------|
D:----------------4--6--7----------------------------------------------|
A:----------5--7-------------------------------------------------------|
E:-5--7--8-------------------------------------------------------------|
e:---------------------------------|
B:---------------------------------|
G:-7--5--4-------------------------|
D:----------7--5-------------------|
A:----------------8--7--5----------|
E:-------------------------8--7--5-|

If you are new to scales this one will definitely be a little bit trickier as you are ascending and descending the scale using different notes.

What’s Next

Time to practice!

This one is probably the trickiest scale we have looked at so far. If you aren’t yet familiar with the major scale, natural minor scale and harmonic minor scale, then I recommend that you go back and get comfortable with those first.

Thanks for reading and I hope you found this lesson helpful.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *