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Combining & Applying The Essential Guitar Scales

In this article, were going to combine all 5 essential guitar scales into one combined scale shape. This combined shape will give you a home base when youre playing lead guitar. This shape works great in just about every style of music and gives you a ton of notes to choose from when writing your own guitar licks, solos, or when youre improvising.

At the bottom of the page, you can download a PDF of all the scale shapes to use as a reference. You can view it on your computer or print it off.

Recognizing The Notes

This combined scale shape will include 4 different types of notes. These are the root notes, pentatonic scale notes, major/minor scale notes, and the blue notes. For a more in-depth explanation of the different notes, youll want to read the previous articles on each scale.

Scales Legend

Adding The Major/Minor Notes To The Pentatonic Scale

For this combined scale, well be working in the key of C major. To start putting this shape together, were going to begin with the C major pentatonic scale. To that, well add the notes that would make this scale a C major scale shape.

Major Pentatonic & Major Scale

Adding The Blues Notes To Major/Minor Scale

Now that we have combined our major pentatonic scale and our major scale, well add the blue notes to this shape.

Major & Combined Scale

C Major A Minor Combined Scales

What were left with after adding all these notes is a combined scale shape that gives you all the notes youre allowed to play in the key of C major. Since A minor is the relative minor key, you can use this exact same shape to play in A minor. Just remember that the root notes change from C notes to A notes, which means youll want to accentuate those new root notes a little more.

Technically, if you wanted to build this A minor combined scale shape from the ground up, you would use the minor pentatonic scale and the minor scale. But since they are the relative minor scales we can just move the root notes of the major shape to change the scale shape from C major to A minor.

The Combined Scale

C Major Combined Scale Horizontal View

Heres another view of this combined scale shape. Use the colors to understand how this scale shape is made up and why it works.

The Combined Scale

Playing This Scale Shape In Other Keys

Moving this scale shape to other keys works the same way as the other scales weve talked about. Just move the entire shape so that the root notes land on the root note of the new key you want to play in. If you wanted to play in E major, you would move this entire shape up 4 frets.

Using Applying The Combined Scale

This scale shape is incredibly simple to apply. Basically, it gives you all the notes youre allowed to play inside of a key (there are many more, but they are outside of this shape). Its up to you to decide which notes you play and when, but this shape should give you the ground work for infinite riffs and licks.

Remember to really accentuate the root notes of the key youre in. If youre in the key of C major, make sure the C notes really pop out. Also, remember that the blue notes dont occur naturally in the key theyre played in, so use them tastefully to add a different flavor to your licks.

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