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Watch the Scales online guitar lesson by Bruce Arnold from Jazz Guitar for Beginners

There are really 22 different scales to learn to improvise over jazz. These are:

Modes of Major
Ionian (Major)
Melodic Minor Ascending Modes
Melodic Minor Ascending also called Jazz Minor
Dorian b2
Lydian #5
Lydian b7
Mixolydian b6
Locrian Natural 2

3 Symmetrical Modes
Symmetrical Diminished
Whole Tone

Two Modes of Harmonic Minor
Harmonic Minor
Mixolydian b2b6

We are only touching on 5 scales in this course. They are from the Major scale modes: Major, Dorian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and two commonly used pentatonic scales commonly referred to as Major and Minor pentatonic. These scales are the most used scales for beginning jazz guitarists and will help you get started soloing on typical jazz chord changes. To develop into a proficient jazz guitar player you need to know all the previously mentioned scales. I would suggest using TrueFire's "Total Modal" to learn these scales along with the "New York Guitar Method Volume One". A combination of these two methods will give what you need to know to apply scales to any idiom.

When learning a new scale I would recommend to first memorizing the notes and not relying on the shape or the fingering to play a scale correctly. I would also learn the scales as degrees. So for C Major the degrees would be:


Remember to always apply any scale you are learning to jam tracks so you hear how it sounds in relationship to a chord or chord progression. I also recommend having a jam track playing in the background as you learn each scale. This will help you to hear the scale in the right relationship. The "Total Modal"course contains jam tracks for all 22 previously mentioned scales.