Minor Scale for Guitar

In this post I will cover the minor scale on guitar, as well as the scale formula for the minor scale, how to play the minor scale in any key, how to identify intervals by counting the notes to understand what makes a minor 3rd interval (scale degree names), etc.

Also, the difference between the major Scale and minor scale, and what makes a minor triad and how that makes a minor chord 🤘

Let’s dive in!


Minor Scale Guitar

Ok first let’s look at how to play a minor scale on guitar!

A Minor Scale

This is the A minor scale!  Notice it’s all the whole notes (A B C D E F G), the piano scale for this would simply be all the white notes!

The notes in red are simply the root note (the tonic note).

And here is the tablature for the A minor Scale:

A Minor Scale Tab

E —————————————————————————————-5–7–8
B ————————————————————————5–6–8—————-
G ——————————————————-5–7————————————-
D ————————————5–7–9—————————————————-
A —————–5–7–8———————————————————————–
E 5–7–8—————————————————————————————-


Formula for the Minor Scale

The Formula for the minor scale is:


Whole Step, Half Step, Whole Step, Whole Step, Half Step, Whole Step, Whole Step

(A whole step is moving up two frets, a half step is moving up one fret)

This gives us the seven notes of the minor scale!

So by starting at the root note, and then proceeding up using the minor scale formula of WHWWHWW you get the minor scale.

This is true no matter what key you are in; you just start at the root note and walk up the fretboard using the formula.

Once you’ve gotten to the root note at the next octave, the formula simply repeats; giving you the same seven notes in the next octave.

Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole


How to Play the Minor Scale in Any Key

To play the minor scale in any key, just find the key you want to play it in on the low E string, and then play the same scale pattern (or shape) that you played for the A minor scale above!  This will, of course, follow the same formula just explained…

Here’s a few examples:

G Minor Scale

Above you see the G Minor Scale.  Notice that it has the same shape as the A minor scale, but is just starting on the 3rd fret of the low E string, which is the note of G.

Here’s another example:

B Minor Scale

Again, you should notice that the pattern is the same, just starting at the root note of B, found on the 7th fret of the E string.

And here is the D minor scale:

D Minor Scale Guitar

Minor Scale Intervals

In the previous blog on the Major Scale I explained what Intervals are, as well as the major and minor scale intervals.

Essentially we are just talking about the difference between two notes (whether the next note in scale is a whole step away or a half step away ~ which is actually fully explained in the formula for the scale ~ WHWWHWW).

Intervals also relates to the relation of notes in scale, which is what we’ll look at here.

Major and minor intervals simply refers to the notes in either the major or minor scale.  In this blog I’ll explain the minor scale intervals more deeply.

The first thing you want to get used to is simply counting the notes in scale:

In the minor scale, the root note is the 1st, the second note is known as the 2nd, the third note as the minor 3rd, the fourth note as the perfect 4th, the fifth note as the perfect 5th, the sixth note as the minor 6th, and the seventh note as the minor 7th.

The Difference Between the Major Scale and Minor Scale

You’ll notice that some of the interval names for the minor scale had the word minor in them (ex. minor 3rd).  This is because these are the notes that are different in the minor scale.

What I mean is, the difference between the Major Scale and the Minor Scale is:

the minor scale has a flatted 3rd, a flatted 6th, and a flatted 7th 

(in comparison to the major scale)

To flat means to take the note down a half step, or one fret.

So if you compare the A minor scale to the A Major scale you will notice that in the A minor scale the third note, the sixth note, and the seventh note are all down one fret (they are all flatted).

This means that the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th notes are all same!

This is the difference between the major and minor scale.

So when we speak of the minor scale we speak of its 3rd, 6th, and 7th as being minor.

Minor Triads

Ok, the last thing we’ll discuss in this blog are minor triads.

Minor Triad = the root, 3rd, and 5th of the minor scale.

So if you look at the A minor scale above you will see that the root is A, the 3rd is C, and the 5th is E.

This is what makes an A minor triad: A C E

How to make a minor chord on Guitar

A minor triad is what makes a minor chord!

So if you look at an A minor chord it simply consists of these three notes: A C E


This is true no matter what version of the Am chord you are holding, like a barre chord:


That’s how to play an A minor chord on guitar.

Guitar Chord B Minor

A Bm chord is simply made of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the Bm scale:

B D F#

How to tell if a triad is major or minor

When comparing a major triad vs a minor triad, a minor triad simply has a flatted 3rd in comparison to the major triad (which, if you will recall the definition from the last blog, a major triad = root, 3rd, and 5th of the major scale).

So the difference is the major 3rd vs minor 3rd.

For example: an A Major Triad = A C# E, and an Am Triad = A C E.  The third is flatted.

Guitar intervals explained 🖐️🎤

A minor key signature just refers to the song being in a minor key, such as D minor.  And a minor chord progression would just be a series of chords in that key (which is something I will cover in the next blog on chords in scale).  I will also be discussing what a natural minor scale is.


So in this blog I covered such cool topics as the minor scale and intervals (what is a minor 3rd, etc), tricks to remember intervals, minor scale positions on guitar, etc.

In the next blogs I’ll show you how to play the major and minor scale all over the entire fretboard, and how to know the chords that go with any key!!!

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I hope this helps you on your musical journey!  Thanks for reading!!!

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Be excellent to each other!!!
Coren Smith
Divine Guitar Lessons