Have you ever tried to solo over a chord and it just didn’t sound right? I think we all have. Often times, it has to do with trying to fit a square peg into a round role type of situation. What I mean is that often the scales that we know and use are either the Major/Minor scale or some form of Pentatonic Scale. The problem is that while those are arguably the most important scales to learn, they don’t always fit in every situation. Here is where the concept of Chord Scales comes in handy.
If you’ve ever tried to jam over an F7 chord, you may have noticed that using the F major Scale doesn’t exactly work 100%. And there’s a good reason for this – one of the notes in the F major Scale doesn’t fit the chord F7. More specifically, if we break down a F7 chord we get four notes: F – A – C – Eb. In comparison, a breakdown of the F major Scale reveals seven notes: F – G – A – Bb – C – D – E – F. Notice the discrepancy? The F7 chord has an Eb and the F major Scale has an E. Now we could just avoid playing Eb and E altogether, but there’s another solution.
If we simply adjust the F major Scale so that it has an Eb rather than an E, our problem will be solved. And by doing this, we are essential playing an F Mixolydian Scale. The F Mixolydian Scale which is really derived from the Bb Major Scale is spelled: F – G – A – Bb – C – D – Eb – F. So, it’s a perfect candidate for our F7 jam.
Below is a diagram of the F Mixolydian Scale. Make sure to play it on the first fret as it is a movable shape and can be transposed to all 12 keys. For further explanation of this topic, click here. Otherwise, make sure to go over it with an instructor if possible and definitely spend as much time as you can learning the unique sound of the scale. Remember, being able to hear music is just as important as learning scale patterns on the neck of the Guitar! Have fun!
Tune in next week for the next installment of Have Guitar Will Travel.