Exotic Scales, Part 1

An important thing to remember about your playing is that there is life after the blues scale. Let's say that you even got to the major scale modes and most of your arpeggios. Still feel limited when it comes to your note selection? Well, a lot of your note selection comes from how many scales you understand. Chances are, you're not as comfortable in the Locrian mode as you are the Blues scale.

Well, here's a blues-buster. Below you will find some of the most popular exotic scales being used today. Some of them will sound quite familiar to you, being commonly adopted in western culture. Others, however, are predominantly eastern sounds. Some of the more advanced players run through these scales with seamless finesse. That is what your goal should be. Take the time to learn each one in every possible position, and in every possible key (they are given to you in the first position in the key of C). Harmonization of the non-8 tone scales is vague, and should be experimented with (much like the Blues scale which is technically an exotic scale itself).

As always, work this lesson one scale at a time, being sure to familiarize yourself with the tonality of it. Keep the picking alternate for now, and make sure the fingering becomes as comfortable to you as your favorite scale. Once you have achieved this, you should move on to the next scale, giving it the same attention as you did the first. As one person may hate pizza, you may find some scales here to be not of your liking. If this is the case, move on to the next scale immediately! Practicing things you dislike becomes tedious and stressful. However, keep in mind that it's not easy to play the guitar, which is why so few do it so well. So try to knuckle down, and the payoff will be well worth the work!


Paul Kuntz is a working studio musician and has been a professional instructor for past ten years. Paul graduated from the Musician's Institute in 1990, and is author of the guitar instructional book "Chords Scales, Theory and Shellfish"..

He also is a studio engineer and producer for unsigned artists.

Paul Kuntz