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Augmented Scale – Symmetrical Guitar Shapes and Licks

The augmented scale is a symmetrical melodic device that is used to outline a maj7#5 sound in your guitar solos.

Used mostly by jazz and fusion guitarists, this scale brings tension to your solos as you apply this hexatonic shape to major family chords.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to build the augmented scale, play it in various positions, add it to your solos, and study three maj7#5 guitar licks.




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What is the Augmented Scale


The augmented scale is built by playing two augmented triads a m3rd apart.

Or, you could think of this scale as a tonic aug triad with approach notes below each note.

Either way of thinking is fine, so try both out and go with the one that makes the most sense to you.

Here’s how those notes would lay out in C:




Or as an interval pattern it’s:




Because this scale has a major 3rd and major 7 it’s used to solo over maj7th chords, and it brings out a maj7#5 sound in your soloing lines.



Augmented Scale Chords


Here are 8 augmented scale chords that you can learn and add to your comping, chord melody, and chord soloing phrases.

Begin by checking out these 4 chord shapes with the root on the 6th string, before moving on to the 5th-string shapes below.

Any of these shapes can be used in place of a tonic or IVmaj7 chord in your playing, you just have to be careful to resolve the tension created by these shapes.





Here are 4 shapes that have a 5th-string root note to study in your guitar practice routine.







Augmented Scale One Octave Shapes


Now that you know how to build augmented scales, you’re ready to apply this scale to the fretboard.

Here are one-octave shapes that you can learn in the given key, C, as well as take to all 12 keys in your practice routine.

Learning one-octave scale shapes allows you to apply this scale to quick moving chords, where two-octave shapes are too bulky to use with accuracy.

Here are four scale shapes beginning with your index finger.


augmented scales 1


Here are four shapes starting with your middle finger on the first note, with the exception of the last shape, which starts on your index finger.


augmented scales 2


Lastly, here are four scale shapes that begin with your pinky finger.


augmented scales 3


Once you have these shapes under your fingers, put on a backing track and add these scales to your soloing lines and phrases.

You can begin with a static maj7th chord backing, then move on to ii-V-I’s, and finally other standard chord progressions.




Augmented Scale Two Octave Shapes


You’ll now move on to learning two-octave shapes, which are useful when soloing over slow tunes where you can expand your lines across the fretboard.


augmented scales 4


Once you have these two-octave Augmented Scale shapes under your fingers, add them to your soloing practice over backing tracks, as well as mixing them together with the one-octave shapes in order to get the full picture of how to play the this across the fretboard.



3 Augmented Scale Licks


One of the best ways to learn a new scale is to study guitar licks that use that scale in its construction.

Here, you’ll learn three augmented scale licks that you can analyse and apply to your improvised guitar solos.

The first line is played over a two-bar Gmaj7 chord.


Click to hear augmented scales 1




Next, you apply the G augmented scale to the Imaj7 chord, in a ii-V-I progression in the key of G.


Click to hear augmented scales 2




Lastly, here’s the scale applied to both chords during the first four bars of the jazz standard “On Green Dolphin Street.”


Click to hear augmented scales 3




Once you’ve learned these three licks, write out 3 to 5 of your own lines as you study this scale further in the woodshed.

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