The minor scale definition
Like the major scale, the minor scale is comprised of seven notes.
In fact, the minor scale (a.k.a. the natural minor scale or Aeolian mode) is the relative minor of the major scale, meaning both scales contain the same notes.
For example, the relative minor of C major (C–D–E–F–G–A–B) is A minor (A–B–C–D–E–F–G).
If you were to play the C major scale but starting and ending on its sixth note, A, you would be playing the A minor scale.
The same principle applies to each of the 12 major scales.
For example, to find the relative minor of G major, we simply count up the scale until we reach the sixth degree: G (1), A (2), B (3), C (4), D (5), E (6).
List of all minor scales (in different keys)
What we discover is that E minor (E–F#–G–A–B–C–D) is the relative minor of G major. Both scales contain the exact same notes; the only difference is the starting point (and the sound!). Here’s a table containing all 12 minor scales:
Minor pentatonic scale – the main scale in rock and metal
So far, we’ve talked about the seven-note major scale and its relative minor, but their five-note counterparts are used even more frequently in lead guitar playing.
Like their seven-note relatives, pentatonic scales (“penta” = five, “tonic” = tone) come in both major and minor varieties.
If you’ve taken a guitar lesson, then you may already be familiar with the minor pentatonic scale, as it is often the first scale a guitarist is taught.
The major pentatonic scale is simply a stripped-down version of the major scale. Instead of playing all seven notes of the latter, the major pentatonic scale is comprised of only the first, second, third, fifth, and sixth degrees of the scale: 1–2–3–5–6. In the key of C, if we omitted the notes F (the 4th) and B (the 7th), the result is the C major pentatonic scale: C–D–E–G–A.
The scale formula for the five-note minor pentatonic scale (1–b3–4–5–b7) is derived from its parallel major scale; that is, the major scale with which it shares its root, or tonic (remember: relative scales share the same notes).
Let’s look at the A major scale: A–B–C#–D–E–F#–G#. If we apply the minor pentatonic scale formula, the result is: A–C–D–E–G (1–b3–4–5–b7).
As you can see, the second and sixth degrees are omitted, and the third and seventh degrees are each lowered one half step. A little closer inspection also reveals that these notes are exactly the same as the notes from the C major pentatonic scale (C–D–E–G–A), only starting from A instead of C.
C major pentatonic and A minor pentatonic are relative scales, meaning they contain exactly the same pitches, just like the seven-note C major and A minor scales.
The minor pentatonic scale can be heard in the solos of players of all styles, from jazz and blues to rock, country, and pop.
The blues scale is a favorite among—you guessed it!—blues guitarists, as well as players in rock, jazz, R&B, and… well, just about any genre!
The blues scale is a six-note scale that differs from the minor pentatonic scale by just one (additional) note.
The addition of this note gives the scale a distinct “bluesy” quality, thanks to the chromaticism (i.e., consecutive half steps) that occurs between the D, Eb, and E notes. Although technically a minor scale, the blues scale works equally well over major, minor, or dominant seventh chords, making it a go-to scale for many guitar players.
Less theory, more angus young
This is the sound of pure A minor flat blues pentatonic scale.
I’ll just leave it here for you to enjoy it.
You deserved it.
Composite blues scale
Although not as quite well-known as the standard blues scale, the composite blues scale is a favorite of yours truly, as well as many modern country pickers.
The real beauty of this scale is that you can bring out both major (3rd) and minor (b3rd and b7th) tonalities in your leads, which is the essence of the blues and a desirable sound in jazz, country, and some rock and pop music.
Don’t let the size of the scale overwhelm you; typically, certain notes are targeted for a specific sound in lieu of ascending and/or descending the whole scale while soloing (although that’s not out of the question, either!).