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Jazz Guitar Scales and Modes – Fingerings and Application

Jazz guitarists love scales. It’s a fact.

We may tell other people that it’s all about licks, phrases, arpeggios and the lot, but deep down we just love to practice, learn and study scales.

Maybe it’s the way the instrument is designed, or the personality type that is drawn to the guitar, but every single jazz guitar student I’ve ever had has asked me about Jazz scales at least once per lesson.

And I have to admit that I’ve spent countless hours in the practice room shedding scales in every possible fingering, shape, form, octave, and with every pattern known to mankind.

Now, as a jazz guitarist and teacher I’m not advocating that learning scales is tantamount to learning jazz guitar, but they are an important tool that jazz guitarists can use to develop their knowledge of the guitar, jazz theory, improvisation (to a certain extent) and technique on the instrument.

So, for all of you jazz guitarists out there who love to learn and practice scales, here are all the articles on my site that deal with jazz guitar scales and modes in one place for you to enjoy.

Learn Jazz Guitar Scales and Scale Patterns with the Matt Warnock Guitar Jazz Scales App.


Don’t forget to download your FREE Jazz Guitar eBook!


New to Jazz Guitar Scales? Start Here




Jazz Guitar Scales Fingering Lessons




Jazz Guitar Scales for Beginners




Jazz Guitar Scales – Practice Guides




Jazz Guitar Scales – Further Fingerings



Learn Jazz Guitar Scales and Scale Patterns with the Matt Warnock Guitar Jazz Scales App.

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  1. Bernadette T., August 20, 2011:

    Hi Matt,
    I love your organized and systemized approach to teaching as well as your willingness to publish your articles.

    However, I find this all a bit overwhelming to me. Maybe I’m just “old” and a bit burned out from teaching Elementary school chorus etc. but maybe somewhere you have an article that explains how anyone who is not in a conservatory can accomplish learning all the above without feeling like they’re neglecting their repertoire or transcription studies, (which for me, is very time/energy consuming).

    Thanks for all that you do.

    Bernadette T

  2. Matt Warnock, August 20, 2011:

    Hey Bernadette,

    Thanks for checking out my site. You don’t have to learn everything in the articles on this page, you can start with one and then go from there. It’s just a collection of all the scale based articles on my site.

    A good place to start is this article

    Here you can see how I derive all the modes of Major, Harmonic Minor, Melodic Minor and Harmonic Major from just one fingering.

    If you are looking to learn scales that’s probably the best place to start.

    But, if you are looking for concepts that are more applicable to jazz, such as improvisation, phrasing etc, check out this series, it might be helpful as well.

  3. Robert Austin, November 25, 2011:

    Hello Matt. I have been playing for many more years than I care to mention. I never,ever write to anyone. However, at a gig he was doing in a hotel in Boston, I spoke with Pat Martino for a few minutes because, as I’m quite sure you know, he had that brain problem that made him forget how to play. I have diabetes and it has cuases nuropathy (numbness) in my left hand. I wanted to ask Mr. Martino about his level of frustration when he had to learn how to play from absolutely nothing to getting back to where he is now, which I think is one of the most remakable stories in music and medical history. Anyway, I am,in many ways, having to train my hand to play with almost no feeling in at least two of my fingers and other parts of my hand, The reason I am writing you is, after spending years on the computer I have found that you and your apporoach to teaching jazz guitar, is the one out of hundreds if not thousands of guys teaching, I believe that, for me, your approach is the one, and only one, that I am going to use. I am nobody so this is not important to you and I certainly ralize that. However, I wanted to let you know that someone who has stydied for years and had great teachers (Hal Crook being one of them) has singled you out and to me this is not only incredibly important but for someone (anyone) to choose you as their teacher (as I train my hand again), after checking out so many methods (as I said before, hundreds if not thousands), even though I am nobody, I beliave is an incredible testament to you as a person, teacher and a player. SO, I can only say, thank you Robert Austin

  4. Matt Warnock, November 25, 2011:

    Hey Robert,
    I am glad that you liked the lesson, thanks for the kind words. If you ever have any questions about anything feel free to contact me at any time.

    I hope that you can get over the numbness in your right hand, or at least find a way to work around it. It sounds like you have a big love for the guitar, so I hope you are able to continue along your path to knowledge and performance.

  5. richard, December 29, 2011:


  6. Matt Warnock, December 29, 2011:

    Hey Richard,
    Glad you liked the patterns! You can apply them to any modes or fingerings you want to learn them in. But you don’t have to do them all in one mode in all keys. So maybe you work on Dorian with pattern 1, then Phrygian with pattern 2 etc. That way you mix things up a bit as you work your way through all the different patterns and different modes/keys.

  7. Mike Quinlan, February 4, 2012:

    I like your anatomy of a tune would make a good instructional book . Like me aknown runs licks scale chords and subs. however, when play a tune become lost.

    thanks Mike

  8. Matthew Warnock, February 4, 2012:

    Thanks Mike. I have thought about making a book of the Anatomy of a Tune series, but I’m not sure if I can use the tunes themselves due to publishing rights. But I will be doing a book on how to play tunes in this manner, how to learn melodies, how to comp chords, how to improvise single lines and chord solos, how to work on chord melodies, how to play basslines, by the end of this year. Working on my next book now which is about rhythmic improvisation and comping, then i will move on to the tune book after that.

  9. Tom, September 27, 2012:

    Hi Matt,

    haven’t played my guitar for several years and have set aside time to begin playing again, waiting for my new left handed tele to arrive!
    just purchase 30 days to better jazz, and have been browsing through it. i see for day one, practicing major modes there is a video “Jazz Guitar Scales Made Easy: Learn All 7 Major Modes from One Shape Video Lesson” to help.. my question is is there an index for video lessons to coinside with the daily lessons? i find myself ending up with many tabs open in my browser.


  10. Matthew Warnock, September 27, 2012:

    Thanks Tom, glad you like the site and thanks for buying the book! There is no table of contents for the videos, but if you go to my youtube channel, at the top of a video like this.

    You can see all of my videos grouped into tabs like Scales, Chords, Licks etc, and it’s easy to find what you want there.

    Hope that helps!

  11. Bert, January 30, 2013:

    Hi Matt, I’ve just started to play jazz on the guitar, and found your site and ebook to be very good sources, but I don’t get one thing. My problem is actually that you’re showing a bunch of different fingerings for the same scale :) So I’m somewhat confused what to practice… Should I first learn one particular way precisely, in every position? Or should I try to use different fingerings from the first day? I’m a bit afraid that that would cause confusion in my muscle memory.

  12. Matthew Warnock, January 30, 2013:

    Hey Bert, that is a common problem many players have. I would just pick one scale and one fingering for that scale and work on it until you can play it from memory and solo with it over a vamp or chord progression. Then when you are comfortable move on a different fingering. Always better to work one idea thoroughly than a bunch at a time I think.

  13. kooky1, May 30, 2013:

    Hi Matt, Finally caught on to what you’re showing. :-) I think I was trying to make it more complicated than it really is. Very cool and I especially see the advantage of learning one scale and relating all the rest to it. Soooooo!!! much easier and now the whole fretboard makes sense ;-P Still wish the B string anomaly wasn’t there but bet I’m not the first, nor will be the last :-D. Thank you

  14. Matt Warnock, May 30, 2013:

    Thanks, that’s great that it is all making sense. Glad you are finding it helpful!

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