Understanding Minor Scales

In this lesson we will concentrate on a little bookwork to make sure you fully understand how to figure out all of your minor scale types.

This PDF tutorial is going to be a pre-requisite to the video lessons coming up focusing on how to visualize the minor scales on the fretboard using the 3-notes per string format.

Take your time with this study and try to spell all of the minor scales in as many keys as you can. You will need to know your major keys quite fluently to be able to completely follow this tutorial, so if you don't have that down yet just download the "Understanding Keys" lesson in the music theory lesson archive, and it will get you up to speed quickly. Then you should be fine to follow along with this PDF tutorial on minor scales.

Here is the PDF download.

Understanding Minor Scales PDF Tutorial

Have fun and I will see you tomorrow with the first installment of the harmonic minor scale video lessons. WOOHOO!!

If these free lessons help you, please donate to keep new ones coming daily. Thanks!! 🙂

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  1. Sean on June 12, 2010 at 6:35 am

    This lesson was extremely helpful to me. The historical context helps make it interesting and easier to remember. Thanks!

  2. Paraj Singh on October 26, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Thank you so much 😀

  3. Jeffrey on December 19, 2010 at 6:52 am

    This site is legend. I’ve learnt so much from reading your theory archives. 30mins spent here, i’ve learnt way more than my entire playing life spent reading those ultimate guitar ‘lessons. I am gonna tell all my friends about this amazing site. Thank you so so much Mr Brown!

    • Carl Brown on December 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm

      No thank you for the great comment!! Hope I can continue to help you out with all the new upcoming lessons. 😀

  4. Phil on January 6, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Hey Carl, Great lessons, really clear and concise I haven’t seen anything like this on the internet. VERY well done. I’ll be sure to tell all my buds about it. How can I reach you via email if I have any questions?

    • Carl Brown on January 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm

      Hey Phil, thanks for the support!!

      You can reach me anytime you want via the email form on the contact page. 😀


  5. jphalle on January 20, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    This is a great Site! I just need a lil help figuring out where to start, and how I can use this new knowledge in a jam session.

  6. travis redmond on February 26, 2011 at 8:42 am

    This site is incredible,Thanks Carl this is really filling some gaps in my playing.

    • Carl Brown on February 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm

      Hey, thanks for coming here! I hope to keep providing more useful lessons to you in the coming weeks, months and years. 😀

    • John Huddleston on February 20, 2020 at 6:12 am

      That was an amazing lesson Carl. I dont know why I always feared that music theory would be way more difficult to learn. Dont get me wrong it is a very intricate system that takes a lot of practice to master, but you my friend teach it very well. Thanks brother.

  7. Ivan Verstraeten on March 13, 2011 at 1:48 am

    The theory is explained so well, It’s very easy to remember and It all makes sense.Thanks for making this awesome site

  8. Patryk Walkowicz on June 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I really appreciate your work, Carl. So far the most helpful site I have found. I’m glad you focus on practical use of music theory and ear training.

  9. HannesCDTY on October 21, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Hey man,
    Can´t thank you enough for making these lessons for free, I´m really glad I found your site, it helps a lot!!


  10. Your Name on January 28, 2013 at 4:14 am


  11. Werner van der Walt on April 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve been trying to play for the past 12 yrs. Without success. Bought a lot of books, attended 3 different guitar teacher’s classes and still could not connect everything. Surfed the net the other night out of frustration and found your site. You switched on the lights. Well structured and uncomplicated lessons. I’ve since started back at the basics but have improved my playing tremendously. Thanks a Lot!

  12. Anonymous on May 25, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    you are amazing bro ! thanks !

  13. Keith Halwig on February 19, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Carl you are making this too much fun! 😉

    • Carl Brown on February 19, 2015 at 11:47 am

      Haha!! I guess I forgot this music study thing is supposed to be torture. 🙂

  14. chris martin on July 19, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Carl thanks your PDF tutorials are really awesome because i learn from the base tnx.
    but can i find my both major melodic and harmonic like this tutorial,i really cant find the formula how is that?

  15. chris martin on July 20, 2015 at 2:02 am

    yes and i mean how can i find my melodic major and harmonic major?

    • Carl Brown on July 21, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      Hey Chris, there is no such thing as melodic major or harmonic major. There is melodic minor and harmonic minor. That is all.

  16. chris martin on July 22, 2015 at 6:24 am

    you mean we do not have such those thing in whole music theory yes?

    • Carl Brown on July 22, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      We have melodic minor and harmonic minor, but not melodic major or harmonic major.

  17. chris martin on July 23, 2015 at 1:58 am

    oh thanks Carl forgive for such fool question because for my lack of knowledge theory;D
    thanks for this site i use this site for 5 years i think thats awesome thank again.

  18. James Bobb on February 4, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Hi Carl
    Question concerning harmonic and melodic minors.
    D# minor being D#,E#,F#,G#,A#,B,C# (hopefully I’m doing this right) I take it you raise the C# to D for Harmonic minor?

    Also, you have opened sooo many doors for me, I can’t thank you enough.

    • Carl Brown on February 4, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      Hey James, glad that I can help!

      First off, you will want to spell it as Eb minor and not D# minor.

      Eb natural minor: Eb F Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb
      Eb harmonic minor: Eb F Gb Ab Bb Cb D Eb
      Eb melodic minor: Eb F Fb Ab Bb C D Eb

      Spelling it as Eb minor avoids the issue you are having with that 7th scale degree, because it wouldn’t be raised to a D it would instead need to be a C double sharp (xC).

      Does that makes sense now? When you are dealing with two enharmonic keys like Eb and D# minor, you will generally choose the one that will give you the simplest notation possible. In this case, it is the Eb minor since there are no double sharps or flats. 🙂


  19. James Bobb on February 4, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Couldn’t edit my last reply and forgot to add.
    Changing C# to D is actually changing the whole scale?

  20. James Bobb on February 4, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Makes total sense Carl. Thank you!

  21. maverick goodman on August 21, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Extremely Helpful. simple descriptions plus historical notes makes it interesting. everytime i wanted to learn Music Theory from a resource I left in the middle because of bore or difficulty, but this one is perfect.

  22. John G on June 9, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    Hi Carl (and everyone else)
    I just tried spelling C minor. I worked out E major was it’s relative major and spelt out C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A, B. Quick google search says to spell C minor is written this way C, D, E♭, F, G, A♭, B♭. Can’t see where I went wrong? any advice?

    • Carl Brown on June 11, 2019 at 12:29 pm

      Hey John, the relative major of C minor is Eb major not E major. If you use Eb major, everything will be just like the C minor from the google search. 🙂

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