Weird Scales: The Whole Tone Scale

This week, we begin a series of Weird Scales. Major and minor scales are pretty normal, but those are the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Reaching out from major and minor is where the fun can really begin. During this series, we’ll talk about modes, diminished, and even some exotic scales. The first scale: Whole Tone.

The Whole Tone scale is nothing but whole steps. No half steps, no other intervals, just whole steps. Major and minor scales contain two conveniently placed half-steps, so when we take them out of the equation, we get this fun little guy. BONUS FACT: There are technically only two whole tone scales. If you start example 1 at fret 7, you play the same notes as the starting-on-fret-5 example itself – you’re just beginning and ending in a different spot.

There are two ways to play this scale. First one is a combination of Block 2 and Block 2-2.

Whole Tone 1

The second one almost exclusively uses Block 2. It’s a little easier, but it involves a lot of position changes.

Whole Tone 2

Have fun! Use as an exercise, try to use it in a solo or a riff, and above all enjoy the weird sounds. See you next time.

Handy Dandy Little Reading Guide: String 1 = E, 2 = B, 3 = G, 4 = D, 5 = A, 6 = E. In tablature, string 6 is at the bottom of the staff while string 1 is at the top. The numbers on the lines tell you what fret to play and the lines themselves tell you what string to play.


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