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The Dominant Bebop Scale



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In this lesson you'll learn what the dominant bebop scale is, how it looks on the guitar and how you can use this scale in your solos.

David Baker was the first one to come up with the term Bebop Scale in his book How to Play Bebop, describing a technique Charlie Parker and Co used to make those long, never ending bebop lines.

Today it's unthinkable for a jazz musician to not at least speak a bit of the bebop language and the bebop scale is a good place to get you started.

The dominant bebop scale is a Mixolydian Scale with a descending chromatic note between the root and the b7.

G Mixolydian (reversed)
G Bebop
G   F E D C B A
G Gb F E D C B A



G Mixolydian (reversed)
G Bebop
1   b7 6 5 4 3 2
1 7 b7 6 5 4 3 2



This G mixolydian scale is the V of the C major scale. The G Bebop Scale can be played on most chords that are diatonic to the key of C major. The bebop scale is a dominant scale and has the same function in a key as the Mixolydian scale.

It can be played on the dominant and the sub dominant. Our example, the G Bebop Scale, is the dominant of C Major and can be played over G7 and Dm7, giving us a great tool to play over II V I progressions.

You can also play the bebop scale on half-diminished chords. The G bebop scale for example can be played over a Bm7b5 chord.

The bebop scale works best descending.

Advantages of the Bebop Scale :

  • Adds some chromatics.
  • When you start the bebop scale on the beat and on a chord tone, there are nothing but chord tones on the beats and tensions on the off beats. This is an effective way to make long phrases. Don't start the bebop scale on off beat's or tensions. Always start on downbeats and on chord tones.


Bebop Scale Fingerings

Here is the G bebop scale on the fretboard. The red dots represent the root or 1 of the guitar scale and the black dots represent a scale tone.


Listen & Play:

Guitar Fretboard : Guitar Scale : Bebop Scale


Listen & Play:

Guitar Fretboard : Guitar Scale : Bebop Scale


These two positions are the basic positions and are the best to get you started. Needless to say you can play the bebop scale in any position you want. Try taking any mixolydian scale fingering you know and adding the passing maj7 interval to create a bebop scale fingering.


Bebop Scale Lines and Phrases

To help you take the bebop scale from the technical side of your practice routine to the improvisational, here are 5 classic jazz guitar licks that use the bebop scale in various situations. Try working these licks in 12 keys around the fretboard, at various tempos, as well as apply them to any tune you are working as you bring these phrases into your jazz guitar vocabulary.


Listen & Play:

Bebop Scale Lick 1


Listen & Play:

Bebop Scale Lick 2


Listen & Play:

Bebop Scale Lick 3


Listen & Play:

Bebop Scale Lick 4


Listen & Play:

Bebop Scale Lick 5



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