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Demystifying the Natural Minor Scale for Guitar: A Beginner's Guide 🎸

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

The guitar is an incredibly versatile instrument, capable of playing a wide range of musical styles. One essential musical concept that every guitarist should grasp is the understanding of scales. Every note on the neck is a part of a scale, and the minor scales are the basis of most sad songs.

Among these, the natural minor scale stands out as one of the fundamental scales used in countless genres, from rock and blues to classical and jazz. In this blog post, we will delve into the mechanics of the natural minor scale, unravel its structure, and explore how it can be applied on the guitar fretboard. Whether you're a beginner or an intermediate player, mastering the natural minor scale will undoubtedly enhance your musical journey.

  1. Understanding the Natural Minor Scale: The natural minor scale is a seven-note scale derived from the major scale. To find the natural minor scale of any given note, you simply take the major scale and start on the sixth degree. For example, if we take the C major scale (C-D-E-F-G-A-B), the sixth degree is A. Starting on A and playing the notes A-B-C-D-E-F-G, we form the A natural minor scale.

  2. The Formula and Structure: The formula for constructing the natural minor scale is W-H-W-W-H-W-W, where W represents a whole step (two frets on the guitar) and H represents a half step (one fret on the guitar). Taking the A natural minor scale as an example, the intervals are A-B-C-D-E-F-G.

  3. Fingering the Natural Minor Scale on the Guitar: The natural minor scale can be played in five different positions on the guitar fretboard. To keep things simple, let's focus on the open position and the fifth fret position in the key of A natural minor:

  • Open Position:







  • Fifth Fret Position (A Shape Barre Chord):

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  1. Applying the Natural Minor Scale: Understanding scales is crucial, but it's equally important to know how to apply them musically. The natural minor scale creates a sense of melancholy and is often used in songs with a darker or introspective mood. Many iconic guitar solos and melodies have been built around the natural minor scale, making it an essential tool for improvisation and composition.

  2. Chords from the Natural Minor Scale: Besides soloing, the chords derived from the natural minor scale are immensely valuable. These include the i, ii°, III, iv, v, VI, and VII chords. In the key of A natural minor, these chords would be: Am, Bdim, C, Dm, Em, F, G

  3. Jamming with Backing Tracks: To truly internalize the natural minor scale, practice jamming with backing tracks in the key of A minor. Numerous resources online offer free backing tracks for guitarists to play along and experiment with the scale. This will help you become more comfortable navigating the fretboard and improve your sense of musicality.

Conclusion: The biggest aspect of this to me among other things is your ear training. The natural minor scale is a fundamental element of music theory that every guitarist should grasp. By understanding its structure, learning its fingerings on the guitar, and exploring its applications, you'll unlock a world of musical possibilities. As you practice and incorporate the natural minor scale into your playing, you'll notice an improvement in your solos, melodies, and overall musical expression.

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