The Mother of All Guitar Scales (Not the Major Scale)

If you’re a lazy ass guitarist like me, at some point in time you’re going to need a multi-purpose scale that you can whip out when you have to do hard stuff like playing over changes, or god forbid, you run out of minor pentatonic licks.

Now, if only there were a scale you could play over absolutely any chord and get away with it…

As it happens, such as scale does indeed exist in the form of the half-whole diminished scale. Don’t be scared off by the name, it just means that it goes half-step, whole-step, half-step etc. Check it out in C below:

half-whole diminished scale

The little red box is the pattern you’re going to learn, which should take you all of 5 minutes. So, what can you do with this morsel of information? Well, if you know a few C chords, you should be able to pick them out in this diagram. If not, go get this stuff spoon-fed to you here. If you’re already a chord monster, you should be able to see these chords too: C, Cm, C6, Cm7, Cm13, Cm7b5, C7, C7b9, C7#9, plus a host of others, which means you can play the C Half-Whole Diminished Scale over… pretty much anything!

What to do if it sounds like shit: Remember that a scale is like a buffet, some notes (dishes) are (taste) better than others and you don’t want to pile everything on your plate as if you hadn’t eaten in a week. On the other hand, pretty much everything you play will sound ‘out’, and if you can play ‘out’ convincingly, you’ll almost certainly get laid. 

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