Modes Of The Melodic Minor Scale For Guitar

The melodic minor scale is one of the most useful scales in jazz. In this lesson, you will learn what the melodic minor modes are, how they look on the guitar and how you can use them in your solos.

All the modes on this page have the A root, so you can hear the difference between the scales. There is a sample lick included at the end of each mode description and fingering so that you can hear and play these modes in a musical situation.

If this is the first time you hear about guitar modes or you are not sure how to use modes in jazz, learn the modes of the major scale first.

If you need an introduction to the melodic minor scale and want to know when and how to use the melodic minor scale, check out our How to Use the Melodic Minor Scale lesson.

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Here’s a list of the 7 modes of the melodic minor scale:

  1. Melodic minor scale (aka jazz minor scale)
  2. Dorian b2 (aka Phrygian #6)
  3. Lydian augmented
  4. Lydian dominant (aka overtone scale)
  5. Mixolydian b6
  6. Aeolian b5 (aka Locrian #2)
  7. Altered scale (aka super Locrian)

1. A Melodic Minor Scale

Other Names: Jazz Minor Scale
Use On: minor chords, min/maj7 chords

 

A Melodic Minor ScaleABCDEF#G#
Formula12b34567

 

Listen & Play Along

A melodic minor scale chart

 

This melodic minor scale lick is based on a Wes Montgomery idea that brings to mind the classic solos of this legendary player.

 

Listen & Play Along

melodic minor lick 1

2. A Dorian b2 Scale

Other Names: Phrygian #6
Use On: b9sus4 chords

 

A Dorian b2 ScaleABbCDEF#G
Formula1b2b3456b7

 

Listen & Play Along

A Dorian b2 scale chart

Here, you will play a line that uses an extended Bb note (the b9) to emphasize that color tone over the underlying chord.

When applying lesser-used modes such as this one, it’s always a good idea to emphasize the characteristic note to make it sound intentional and not like a mistake in your lines.

 

Listen & Play Along

melodic minor lick 2

3. A Lydian Augmented Scale

Other Names: Lydian #5 scale
Use On: maj7#5 chords

 

A Lydian #5 ScaleABC#D#E#F#G#
Formula123#4#567

 

Listen & Play Along

A Lydian augmented scale chart

Here you will use a triplet rhythm, as well as start the line on the #5 of the underlying chord, both common ways to apply this scale to a soloing situation.

 

Listen & Play Along

melodic minor lick 3

4. A Lydian Dominant Scale

Other Names: Lydian b7, Overtone scale
Use On: dominant 7(#11) chords (also see Tritone Chord Substitution)

 

A Lydian Dominant ScaleABC#D#EF#G
Formula123#456b7

 

Listen & Play Along

A Lydian dominant scale chart

Here is a lick inspired by the playing of pianist McCoy Tyner, and uses a few leaps and an enclosure of the C# note to add color to the phrase.

 

Listen & Play Along

melodic minor lick 4

5. A Mixolydian b6 Scale

Other Names: Mixolydian b13 scale, Hindu scale
Use On: dominant 7b13 chords

 

A Mixolydian b6 ScaleABC#DEFG
Formula12345b6b7

Listen & Play Along

A Mixolydian b6 scale chart

In this lick, you’ll use a rhythm pattern to work your way through the scale. Sometimes something as simple as a rhythmic motive can create a good level of interest in your soloing lines.

 

Listen & Play Along

melodic minor lick 5

6. A Aeolian b5

Other Names: Locrian ♮2 scale, half diminished scale
Use On: m7b5 chords

 

A Aeolian b5 ScaleABCDEbFG
Formula12b34b5b6b7

 

Listen & Play Along

A Aeolian b5 scale chart

In this Aeolian b5 lick you will focus on the Am9b5 arpeggio as you climb up and down that shape to create this line.

 

Listen & Play Along

melodic minor lick 6

7. A Altered Scale

Other Names: Super Locrian scale, Locrian b4 scale, Diminished Wholetone
Use On: dominant chords with altered tensions, also see The Altered Scale

 

A Altered ScaleABbCDbEbFG
Formula1b2b3b4b5b6b7

 

Listen & Play Along

A ALtered scale chart

The final lick in this lesson is based on the playing of jazz guitar master Pat Martino, and focuses on the BbmMaj7 arpeggio that is diatonic to the scale.

 

Listen & Play Along

melodic minor lick 7

 

 

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  • Isaac says:

    I was toying with combining Melodic and harmonic minor scales in the same lines. But I could find much reference on how to do that. I did discover from trial and error that the E harmonic minor scale complements the C melodic minor. And I can play them in succession against the B7 to Emin7 changes in Autumn Leaves (in key of E). Is there any Jazz theory that supports this, or is it just dumb luck on my part?

    • Marsh-man says:

      Yes, C melodic minor over the B7 = B altered scale.
      Over the Emin7 chord, theory suggests using E natural minor scale to avoid the natural 7th contained in the harmonic minor scale. Tbh though, in that song, over the E minor in the key of E minor… you can get away with a lot.

  • Sandip Baral says:

    Awesome stuff

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