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How To Play Melodic Minor Guitar Scales

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The Melodic minor scale is used in many styles of music such as classical, jazz rock and even pop. There are quite a few large stretches in the scale that make it good for finger exercises. So, even if you don't actually use the scale in your own music, learning it will help you improve your finger dexterity and add spice to your playing.

As with my other guitar scales lessons, the scale will be sliced up into 5 box patterns. I will use an animated GIF and guitar TABs to help you visualize how to play the scale patterns. Both the TAB and the GIF have suggested fingering and picking that I feel is the best way to learn the scale.

Related Guitar scales

Since the Melodic minor is a derivative of the Harmonic minor scale you should also check out my Learning the Harmonic minor scale lesson


The looped animated GIF and TAB for this lesson are down below. You just need to scroll a bit and you can't miss them.

The Melodic minor scale

The Melodic minor scale is derived from the Harmonic minor by raising the sixth scale degree by a half step. To make a long story short: Classical composers of long ago decided that the Harmonic minor was not as good for singing melodies. They decided to alter the Harmonic minor a bit. What they came up with was the Melodic minor scale. You can read more about the music theory involved with minor scales at this Wikipedia article.

Comparing the Melodic minor to the Natural and Harmonic minor scales

Melodic minor scale Notes

Just like in the Harmonic minor lesson, I will use the F# Melodic minor scale to help you see the differences. The rules in this lesson apply to all Melodic minor keys!

Animated Guitar GIF

Below is the animated guitar GIF showing the suggested fingering and picking of the 5 Melodic minor box patterns.

how to play guitar scales melodic minor

Melodic minor scale Guitar TABs

melodic minor scale guitar tab

Moving the scale to new keys

Moving to new keys is the same here as it is with all my other scale lessons. You change to new keys by sliding all 5 boxes as a whole to another position on the fretboard. The root note of the new key will always be two frets behind the first note of Pattern 1 on the Low E (6th) string. In the GIF the root notes are the red dots. See also the Moving to new keys section of the Major scales lesson.


Learning the Melodic minor scale can open up new ways to visualize the notes of the guitar. The long stretches are great for building hand strength and finger dexterity. Add the Melodic minor scale to your practice routine today...I guarantee you no harm can come from learning this awesome scale!

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how to play melodic minor guitar scales

Posted October 6, 2015, 7:18 pm in: Guitar lessons

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