Harmonic Minor Scale 5 Patterns: Best Guitar Scales To Learn

Learn the five box position scale shapes that'll help you build strength, play solos & improvise better on guitar

We are supported by our visitors. If you click through our links & make a purchase, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Harmonic Minor Scale Guitar 5 Pattern Positions_Beginner Guitar Lessons

What Is The Harmonic Minor Scale on Guitar?

The harmonic minor scale is a 7 note scale derived from the natural minor scale. The only difference between the natural minor scale and harmonic minor scale is the 7th scale note of the harmonic minor is raised by one semitone (half-step).

The harmonic minor scale has a distinctive haunting sound with a spicy Middle-eastern seasoning, thanks to its unique interval structure.

For that reason, it is used in styles such as jazz, Neoclassical, folk, metal, Jewish and Flamenco music. The harmonic minor scale can be used to add spice and interest to your guitar solos and songwriting. 

Just like all other musical scales, we use both a scale degree formula and semitone and tone interval formula (half and whole steps) that defines the harmonic minor scale (and thus determines how it sounds):

Harmonic minor scale formula:

1 2 b3 4 5 b6  7

Harmonic minor interval formula where T = tone and S = Semitone:

T S T T S  S

Here’s the formula shown in whole and half steps:

W – H – W – W – H – W½ – H

Pro Tip: The harmonic minor scale is simply the natural minor scale with a raised 7th note degree. Or put another way, the major scale with a flat 3rd (b3) and flat 6th (b6).

What Chords Fit Under The Harmonic Minor Scale?

The harmonic minor scale sounds at home played over the chords its intervals, and other similar minor scales create. This is why some chord progressions that seem like they are derived from the natural minor scale have a V7 (dominant 7th). The dom7th is borrowed from the harmonic minor scale.

Play the harmonic minor scale over chords including minor, major, dominant 7th, augmented, minMajor7th and a few other altered chord extensions. Have a look at the table below where the harmonic minor chords are compared to the natural minor scale chords:

Harmonic minor scale guitar chords chart PDF

Useful To Know: The second to last interval distance of a tone and a half is also referred to as either an augmented 2nd, or minor 3rd.

Now you know the scale formula for the harmonic minor scale, you can construct and play it in any key you desire on the guitar neck.

But we don't want to leave you hanging on any longer. Here are are 5 CAGED form scale patterns for the harmonic minor scale.

Our example key is G, and the G root note is highlighted in aqua blue in the fretboard diagrams below. The flat 7th altered scale degree is highlighted in orange which makes it stand out as being the only difference to the natural minor scale.

Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern #1 - (D Chord Form)

Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern 1_Free Guitar Scale Diagram

Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern #2 - (C Chord Form)

Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern 2_Free Guitar Scale Diagram

Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern #3 - (A Chord Form)

Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern 3_Beginner Guitar Scale Diagram

Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern #4 - (G Chord Form)

Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern 4_Free Guitar TAB PDF

Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern #5 - (E Chord Form)

Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern 5_Free Guitar TAB PDF

Practice Tips

  • Play the scales starting on the lower root note (aqua blue circle).
  • Learn one scale pattern at a time. Only add on the next shape when you've memorised and perfected the current one.
  • Break the patterns down into single octave shapes before tackling the full 2 octaves.
  • Playing form - spread your fingers out across the fretboard and don't bunch them up. This'll help you develop finger strength and speed as you won't be fighting to get the into position.
  • Timing - always practice your scales with a metronome! Consistent timing is the name of the game. No speeding up and slowing down.
  • Picking - play the scales using alternate picking (down to up strokes) to achieve accuracy and control.
  • Clean - your main goal, as always, should be to play each note cleanly with no mutes.
  • Speed - gradually increase your speed and practice with 3 tempo variations in mind: slow, moderate and fast.
  • Backing tracks - to hear the true flavour of the harmonic scale, practice the shapes over a backing track and get inventive.

Essential Jazz Guitar Chords Chart Poster

Featuring 65 of the most used common jazz (blues, funk and country too) chord shape voicings & extensions + bonus Guitar Fretboard Notes Chart 

Downloadable music prints that make your time learning guitar easier...

Jazz Guitar chord shapes include:
- Major seventh (Maj 7th)
- Minor Seventh
- Diminished - Half Diminished
- Dominant seventh
- Major 9th / minor 9th / dom 9th
- Maj11th / minor 11th / dom 11th
- Maj13th / minor 13th / dom 13th

and more...

Jazz Guitar Chords Chart Poster | Chord Charts Diagram Digital Download | Printable Music Theory
Jazz Guitar Chords Chart Poster | Chord Charts Diagram Digital Download | Printable Music Theory

Make ​​​​learning guitar easier

Get our latest expert tips, advice and hot gear reviews in your inbox