Spanish Guitar Scales – An Essential Guide

Spanish guitar scales have their own flavour and character that can be used in a variety of genres – Let’s explore them!

 

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • 4 essential Spanish guitar scales
  • How to distinguish each of these scales
  • Tips for playing over these scales
  • The chord shapes for each scale
  • How these scales are built

A Formal Introduction To Spanish Guitar Scales

Music is a vast and incredible landscape that spans every corner of the planet, and it is one of the many ways that different cultures express and distinguish themselves.

  • Music helps us show the world who we are and where we come from, and that’s an important concept to preserve.
  • This is what makes music so incredible – everywhere you travel will have its own sound.
  • If you’re looking to explore the depths of a culture’s personality, you can most certainly start with food and music.

This applies especially well to Spanish culture – a body of people who have always held their own character in the music world.

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When we think of Spanish music, it’s easy to just think of Flamenco guitar, Salsa and Tango music – but this culture of music goes far deeper than that.

  • Spanish guitar scales are used in various other styles of music, and have been for years.
  • Pop music has adapted the use of various minor scales based in Spanish music, and Heavy Metal guitarists have always held a taste for the harmonic minor scale’s sonic attitude.
  • It’s important to give credit where credit is due, and in this lesson on Spanish guitar scales we’re going to do just that.

This free guitar lesson is going to arm you with a bunch of new tools that will bring out new sounds, colours and flavours in your guitar playing (as well as your songwriting).

Let’s dive into what makes these scales unique!

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Spanish guitar scales: What Makes These Different?

The construction of any scale is what makes it unique from any other.

  • Many Spanish guitar scales hold small differences to the guitar scales we may already know, and we will explore those differences in this lesson.
  • When we say ‘small differences’, what we mean is that a scale may be different from another by only one note – but these small differences make a huge impact on the overall sound of what we play.

For example, the harmonic minor scale is different from the natural minor scale by only one note, but the differences between the two scales is easy to hear once you know where to look for it.

Don’t worry, we’re not leaving you hanging – You’re going to learn how to play the Harmonic Minor scale today.

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For every note difference in a scale, the chords must change as well.

For example: The seventh chord in a natural minor scale is a major chord.

In the harmonic minor scale however, the seventh chord is a diminished 7th chord because the seventh note of the scale is sharpened (raised one fret).

Pro Tip: Memorizing scale and chord structure really help us with memorization.

  • We highly recommend you grab some paper and take notes as we go through this lesson.
  • We also recommend playing through every example to help your fingers learn the differences between these Spanish guitar scales.
  • This will help your brain with memorization, as well as muscle memory.

Before we get into these Spanish guitar scales, there’s something you should know when it comes to soloing in any scale.

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The Chords Determine What We Play

That’s right, guitar solo fanatics!

Your solos are determined by the chords that are being played underneath you!

You mean to tell me I have to follow the chords that are being played in order to sound good?

Kind of, but not quite.

  • You can most certainly shred the notes of a scale over its corresponding chords, and it won’t sound terrible – But it might not sound as good as it could.
  • Listening is one of the greatest components of music. Listening teaches us to follow what is happening around us for the best outcome of sound.

We can play the notes of a scale and, so long as it’s the right scale, sound good. We call these notes ‘safe notes.’

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For example: You can play the notes of the C minor pentatonic scale over a chord progression in C minor, and you won’t hit any wrong notes.

  • If you really wanted to add some flavour, you would listen for the chord changes and hit the corresponding notes as the chords come up.
  • If your chord progression starts on a C minor chord and moves to an Eb major chord, you’ll want to highlight that change in your solo by playing from C to Eb.
  • Playing with this type of harmonic awareness doesn’t just make us better guitarists – it makes us better musicians as well.

Pro Tip: A great way to practice these Spanish guitar scales is by jamming with a friend.

Jamming gives us the chance to practice our harmonic awareness in real time, and it also helps us build a sense of community with other musicians.

Even if you’re just starting out, jamming is a great way to build your skillset and musicality!

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Why Not Just Play The Scales We Already Know?

The beauty of music is in the variety!

  • One of the great challenges and mysteries we must face as musicians is that we can never learn it all.
  • It’s just not possible – The landscape of music is too vast for us to master every inch and corner of it.
  • This isn’t a bad thing, though!
  • In fact, this is what makes music so glorious and mysterious.

We should always push ourselves to learn outside of our comfort zone and push our boundaries as musicians. Learning new concepts will never steer you in the wrong direction.

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Knowledge is power, and that is especially true for music.

  • By learning new concepts like these Spanish guitar scales, we open up our ability to find new voices to express ourselves with.
  • Not only that, but we find new ways to write and play music.

Pro Tip: The phenomenon of fusing musical styles together has given birth to many new genres and sounds in music over the years.

A great example of this that you may not have heard of is David Maxim Micic, who fuses Balkan musical stylings with expressive instrumental Prog metal.

You can check out his masterpiece album “Who Bit The Moon” here.

Now let’s jump into the first of four Spanish guitar scales!

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