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The Difference Scales Make: Hear One Guitar Lick Played in Seven Scales

When you hear the word "exotic," what comes to mind?

Some people might picture Ferraris or Lamborghinis. Others might fantasize about Brazilian supermodels.

I hate to burst your bubble, but those dreams will probably never come true. While the truth might be hard to accept, we should all agree that exotic scales are the equivalent of a foreign woman driving a sports car—they look attractive, sound fancy, have interesting names and seem unattainable.

In this guitar universe, however, we can certainly attain exotic scales. Whether it’s through the use of a course like Five Exotic Guitar Scales and How to Use Them Effectively or a simple application of music theory using the formulas below, learning these scales and their positions will open up a whole new world for you to explore.

Harmonic Minor Scale: R, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, 7
Gypsy Scale: R, 2, b3, #4, 5, b6, 7
Japanese Scale: 1, b2, 4, 5, b6
Harmonic Major Scale: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, b6, 7
Byzantine Scale: 1, b2, 3, 4, 5, b6, 7

The best way to learn any scale is to play a droning bass note (usually the bottom E string) and then play the scale on another string. This helps you internalize the character of the scale through some subliminal ear training. In the video below, you can hear a variety of guitar scales played side by side in a musical context, giving you a feel for what each one can offer.

Who knows? These sounds may bring out another side in you. A worldly, sophisticated side.

Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win. His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.