colorful minor scale

Previous articles in this series – strongly recommended to read these first!

  1. Intro to music theory (the 12 notes)
  2. Octaves (how to identify notes on the fretboard)
  3. The Major Scale

The Minor Scale

The natural minor scale is contains 7 notes with the following intervals between notes

  • Tone
  • Semi-tone
  • Tone
  • Tone
  • Semi-tone
  • Tone
  • Tone

You should practice this sentence: “Tone-Semitone-Tone    Tone-Semitone-Tone-Tone”.


There are several types of minor scale (natural minor, melodic minor, harmonic minor).

Usually if someone just says “minor scale”, they mean the natural minor scale which is what we are learning now

Notes of the Minor Scale

Let’s examine this note by note by constructing the C minor scale. The first note is C.

Move up a tone (2 frets) to get the second note – D


Move up a semi-tone from D to get the third note – Eb

Move up a tone to get the fourth note – F

Move up 2 frets (tone) from F to G


Move up 2 frets (semi-tone) from G to Ab

Move up 2 frets (tone) from Ab to Bb

And 1 fret (tone) from Bb to C


Thus the C Minor Scale consists of C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C

If we play this one string, it will look like this

C Minor Scale

We can visualize this on the guitar neck with the charts below

C Minor Scale on 5th String

This enables us to visually look at where the tone and semitone relationships are.

Remember above we mentioned “Tone-Semitone-Tone    Tone-Semitone-Tone-Tone”.

The illustration below displays that sequence of intervals on the guitar neck.


C Minor Scale on several strings

If we play this on several strings, it looks like the diagram below.

Learn this shape well. It’s a fundamental guitar scale shape.

C Minor Several Strings

D Minor Scale

As we saw in the last chapter, we can generate a D minor scale by moving up the scale shape by 2 frets.

D Minor Scale
D Minor 2 Frets Up


In this lesson, we constructed a C minor scale from first principles. 

We showed the “Tone-Semitone-Tone    Tone-Semitone-Tone-Tone” interval pattern.

We visualized several shapes, including a description of how to move this minor shape up the neck to get the scale in other keys. 


The next article in this series will explain the concept of intervals.