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How to Play the A Minor Scale Like a Pro Now in 2024

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Mastering the A minor scale is a dream for many guitarists. 

Whether you’re just starting or have been playing for a while, getting this scale down can unlock new musical avenues and enhance your playing. But where do you begin? 

Maybe you’re comfortable with some chords and scales, but your solos and improvisations aren’t quite there yet. It’s frustrating, right? 

And with so much information out there, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

You know that mastering scales is vital, but the A minor scale feels tricky. You see professional guitarists making it look easy and wonder how they do it. 

You practice and practice but need help to get the same smoothness and expression. It’s disheartening when your hard work doesn’t seem to pay off.

Good news: playing the A minor scale like a pro is totally doable. This guide will take you through everything you need to know, from the basics to mastering different positions on the fretboard. 

With clear explanations, helpful tips, and practical tabs, you’ll gain the skills and confidence to play the A minor scale beautifully and effortlessly.

Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!

TL;DR:

  • Understand the basics: Learn the A minor scale and why it’s important.
  • Intervals and degrees: Get to know the intervals and degrees within the scale.
  • Positions: Practice the A minor scale in open, 5th, and 7th positions.
  • Tabs and chords: Use tabs for practice and understand the chords in the key of A minor.
acoustic and electric guitar with teal gradient

What is the A Minor Scale?

The A minor scale is a type of natural minor scale that’s essential for guitarists. It uses only the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.

Between each note, there is either a half step or a whole step, and we can express this with the following formula (W’s are whole steps, and H’s are half steps): W H W W H W W.

When it comes to the key signature, the A minor scale has no sharps or flats, making it a great starting point for beginners. It’s the relative minor of the C major scale—they share the same notes but start on different pitches. 

Getting familiar with the A minor scale can open up your playing, letting you improvise and compose more freely.

Think about it: whether you’re crafting a soulful ballad or an edgy rock riff, the natural minor scale can add depth and emotion to your music. It’s not just about hitting the right notes; it’s about tapping into the mood and feeling this scale can bring. 

Intervals and Degrees of the A Minor Scale

Let’s dive into the intervals and degrees of the A natural minor scale. Each note of the scale has a specific position or degree, and these degrees each have names. 

The first note, A, is called the root note. From there, the sequence follows: B is the second degree (or supertonic), C is the third degree (or mediant), D is the fourth degree (or subdominant), E is the fifth degree (or dominant), F is the sixth degree (or submediant), and G is the seventh degree (or subtonic).

Understanding these scale degree names and their corresponding intervals is crucial. 

For example, the interval from the root note (A) to the second degree (B) is a whole step, while the interval from the second degree (B) to the third degree (C) is a half step. 

This pattern of whole and half steps gives the A natural minor scale its distinctive sound. Knowing these intervals and degrees will help you better grasp the scale’s structure, making it easier to navigate the fretboard and create music that resonates emotionally. 

A Minor Scale Intervals

  • Tonic: A
  • Major 2nd: B
  • Minor 3rd: C
  • Perfect 4th: D
  • Perfect 5th: E
  • Minor 6th: F
  • Minor 7th: G
  • Perfect 8th: A

A Minor Scale Degrees

  • Tonic: A
  • Supertonic: B
  • Mediant: C
  • Subdominant: D
  • Dominant: E
  • Submediant: F
  • Subtonic: G
  • Octave: A

Positions of the A Minor Scale

Let’s chat about the different positions of the A natural minor scale on the guitar. 

Knowing these positions can make your playing much more fluid and versatile. While the major scale often steals the spotlight, natural minor scales are just as crucial, especially when you’re exploring major and minor keys in your music.

You can play the A natural minor scale in several positions on the fretboard. Starting with the open position, you’ll find it uses open strings, making it perfect for beginners. 

Then there’s the 5th position, which spans frets further down the fretboard and uses familiar finger patterns. 

This is where you can start to see how the scales fit into different musical contexts.

Moving up to the 7th position will give you a different perspective that can add a fresh twist to your playing. Each position offers unique opportunities for improvisation and expression. 

By practicing the A natural minor scale in these various positions, you’ll better understand how natural minor scales work across the fretboard and how they relate to both major and minor keys.

A Minor Scale in Open Position

a natural minor scale open position

A Minor Scale in 5th Position

a natural minor scale 5th position

A Minor Scale in 7th Position

a natural minor scale 7th position

Tabs Using the A Minor Scale

Let’s dive into some tabs using the A natural minor scale. 

Whether you’re practicing ascending or descending natural minor scales, having good tabs can make all the difference. These tabs will help you see how the scale looks on the fretboard and give you a solid framework to build your skills.

Start with a simple ascending pattern on a single string. For instance, try playing the A natural minor scale starting from the 5th fret on the low E string. Work your way up: A (5th fret), B (7th fret), C (8th fret), D (10th fret), E (12th fret), F (13th fret), and G (15th fret). Once you hit the top, practice coming back down in the same pattern. 

This back-and-forth motion helps you get comfortable with the scale in both directions.

These natural minor scales are perfect for creating solos, riffs, and melodies. Using tabs lets you visualize the notes and understand their relationships better. 

Plus, it’s a great way to naturally incorporate the scale into your playing. 

Tab for Open Position

Ascending:

a minor tab open position ascending

Descending:

a minor tab open position descending

Tab for 5th Position

Ascending:

a minor tab 5th position ascending

Descending:

a minor tab 5th position ascending

Tab for 7th Position

Ascending:

a minor tab 7th position ascending

Descending:

a minor tab 7th position descending

Chords In The Key of A Minor

Understanding the chords in the key of A minor can really elevate your playing. 

The A natural minor scale forms the foundation for these chords, giving you a rich palette of sounds to work with. In the key of A minor, the chords are built directly from the notes of the natural A minor scale.

Here’s a quick rundown: The primary chords in A minor are Am (A minor), Bdim (B diminished), C (C major), Dm (D minor), Em (E minor), F (F major), and G (G major). Each of these chords has a unique flavor, thanks to their roots in the minor scales. 

For instance, the Am chord is built from the notes A, C, and E, which are the first, third, and fifth notes of the A natural minor scale.

These chords can create a variety of moods and textures in your music, from the haunting melancholy of Am to the uplifting sound of C major. 

Chords in A Minor

Other A Minor Scale Patterns

Beyond the natural minor scale, there are some other cool A minor scale patterns you should check out. 

The A harmonic minor scale has a raised seventh note, giving it a unique, exotic vibe. Then there’s the A melodic minor scale, which raises both the sixth and seventh notes when you play it ascending, adding a smooth, jazzy touch. 

And don’t forget the A pentatonic minor scale—a five-note scale that’s a favorite in rock and blues. Each scale offers something different, so try them and see how they can spice up your playing!

Final Thoughts

acoustic guitar with thought bubbles and teal gradient

Mastering the A natural minor scale can really change your guitar playing. 

It’s not just about playing the right notes; it’s about understanding how they fit together and connect to other scales and keys. The A natural minor scale is closely related to its relative major, C major.

They use the same notes but start on different root notes, giving you two distinct sounds to play with.

But don’t stop there! Check out the A harmonic minor scale with its exotic raised seventh note and the A melodic minor scale, which raises the sixth and seventh notes when going up, for a smooth, jazzy feel. 

Each scale adds a unique flavor to your music and broadens your creative options.

These scales are your foundation if you’re writing soulful ballads, rocking out with bluesy riffs, or exploring new musical styles. So, keep practicing, stay curious, and most importantly, have fun!

FAQs

electric guitar with question marks and pink gradient

Is the A minor scale the same as C major?

The A minor scale and C major scale are actually relatives. 

They share the same notes but start on different root notes—A for A minor and C for C major. This relationship is why A minor is called the relative minor of C major.

So, while they sound different, they are closely connected, offering different moods and flavors using the same set of notes.

What is the difference between a major and a minor scale?

The main difference between a major and a minor scale is their sound and the pattern of whole and half steps. 

Major scales have a bright, happy sound, while minor scales tend to sound sad or gloomy. This is because minor scales have different intervals, especially the third, sixth, and seventh notes, which are lower in minor scales than major scales.

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