Demystifying The Guitar Scale A Minor: Easy Ways To Play

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The guitar scale a minor is a fundamental musical structure that holds significant importance for guitarists. It is one of the most widely used and recognizable minor scales, delivering a distinct melancholic and introspective sound.

This minor scale consists of A, B, C, D, E, F, & G notes and serves as a cornerstone for various musical genres, including rock, blues, jazz, and classical.

Whether it’s capturing the essence of a heartfelt ballad or adding an edgy touch to a fiery guitar solo, the A minor scale offers guitarists a versatile and expressive tool to evoke emotions and create captivating musical compositions.

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Minor Scale Formula

This scale formula provides a systematic approach to constructing minor guitar scales from any root note.

The root note is the starting pitch of a chord or scale & establishes the tonal center for constructing melodies & harmonies. In other words, root notes serve as the “home” or “anchor” note around which other musical elements revolve.

The natural minor scale follows the specific pattern of intervals:

Whole Step – Half Step – Whole Step – Whole Step – Half Step – Whole Step – Whole Step


Using this formula, you can construct any natural minor scale by starting on whatever root notes you choose and applying the interval pattern.

For example, if you start on the note A, you would apply the formula to get the A natural minor scale: A – B – C – D – E – F – G. This formula remains consistent regardless of the starting note, allowing you to construct minor scales in any key on the guitar.

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A Minor Scale Intervals & Scale Degrees

The A minor scale on the guitar follows the same interval pattern as any other seven note scale. Here are the intervals and scale degrees for the A minor scale on the guitar:


A – B – C – D – E – F – G – A

Scale Degrees:

1 (Root) – 2 (Supertonic) – b3 (Mediant) – 4 (Subdominant) – 5 (Dominant) – b6 (Submediant) – b7 (Subtonic/Leading tone) – 8 (Octave/Root)

Note: The lowercase ‘b’ before the degrees indicates a lowered or flattened note compared to the major scale. In the case of A minor, the third (C), sixth (F), and seventh (G) are flattened compared to the corresponding notes in A major.

Playing The A Minor Scale On Guitar

2 Octaves

This diagram shows the scale stacked twice on two different root notes.

2-Octaves-same notes, exact same notes, seven notes, shapes

Full Fretboard

Here’s how you can play the minor scale shape throughout the entire fretboard. The blue notes represent all of the root note locations.

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A Minor Guitar Chord

Related: How to read guitar chord diagrams

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Complementary A Minor Guitar Chords

Dm (D minor): D – F – A – This chord is the subdominant chord and is commonly used to create harmonic movement and tension.

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Em (E minor): E – G – B – This chord is the dominant chord and adds a brighter and more uplifting quality when used in progression with the A minor scale.

E min-muscle memory, two frets, play, key, lesson

G (G major): G – B – D – This chord is the major subdominant and adds a sense of resolution and energy when transitioning from the minor tonic chord.

G Maj-learning scales, guitar players, one scale, fingers

C (C major): C – E – G – This chord is the relative major and provides a contrasting and uplifting sound when used alongside the A minor scale.

C Maj-lead guitar, all the notes, first note, frets, diagrams

Frequently Asked Questions

What chords are in an A Minor scale?

In the key of A minor, the chords that naturally occur within the A minor scale are:

Am (A minor): A – C – E

Bdim (B diminished): B – D – F

C (C major): C – E – G

Dm (D minor): D – F – A

Em (E minor): E – G – B

F (F major): F – A – C

G (G major): G – B – D

These chords are derived by harmonizing the notes of the A minor scale using the root, third, and fifth notes of each scale degree. It’s important to note that the lowercase “m” represents minor chords, while the uppercase letters represent major chords.

What is a natural minor scale?

The natural minor scale is also known as the Aeolian mode. It has a subtle and melancholic sound, often associated with sadness and introspection.

In addition to the natural minor scale, there are two other commonly used minor scales:

The harmonic minor scale, which introduces a raised seventh scale degree for a more dramatic sound, and…

The melodic minor scale, which varies in its ascending and descending forms to facilitate melodic movement.

How does a major scale compare to a minor scale?

Major scales follow a specific pattern of whole and half steps (WWHWWWH), creating a bright and happy sound, while minor scales have a slightly different pattern (WHWWHWW), resulting in a more somber and melancholic tone.

in terms of music theory, major scales feature a major third interval as the third scale degree, contributing to a joyful quality, while minor scales have a minor third, giving them a subdued and introspective character.

Major scales also tend to have a sense of resolution & stability, while minor scales tend to can create tension & ambiguity.

Finally, major scales evoke feelings of joy & triumph, while minor scales convey emotions such as sadness, melancholy, or introspection.

Related: Learn to play the E Major Scale

What is the relative major scale to the “a minor scale”?

The relative major scale to the A minor scale is the C major scale.

The A minor scale and C major scale are considered relative because they share the same set of notes.

The A minor scale is built on the sixth degree of the C major scale, while the C major scale is built on the first degree of the A minor scale.

This relationship allows for a smooth transition between the two scales and provides a foundation for understanding the connection between major and minor keys.

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