Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Scales – Part 3

Dec19

The Hexatonic Scale

Hexatonic scales are any scales that have six notes; the blues scale was actually your first hexatonic scale. But now we’ll try a different note: the 6th of the major scale.

This pitch is located one fret below the b7, or two frets above the 5. The hexatonic scale has been widely used in rock, in solos ranging from Jimmy Page’s “Stairway to Heaven” solo to Carlos Santana’s work on “Black Magic Woman”. Many guitarists incorrectly identify this particular hexatonic scale as the Dorian scale – we’ll look at the differences soon.

Going back to our first minor pentatonic fingering, here’s the hexatonic scale with the addition of 6 – we have two possibilities:

 | R  |  |   | b3 |
 | 5  |  | 6 | b7 |
 | b3 |  | 4 |
 | b7 |  | R |
 | 4  |  | 5 |    | 6 |
 | R  |  |   | b3 |
 |   | R  |  |   | b3 |
 |   | 5  |  | 6 | b7 |
 |   | b3 |  | 4 |
 | 6 | b7 |  | R |
 |   | 4  |  | 5 |
 |   | R  |  |   | b3 |

The second fingering only has one practical fingering:

 |   | b3 |   | 4  |
 | 6 | b7 |   | R  |
 | 4 |    | 5 |    |
 | R |    |   | b3 |
 | 5 |    | 6 | b7 |
 |   | b3 |   | 4  |

And that’s also the case with the third fingering:

 |   | 4  |   | 5  |    | 6 |
 |   | R  |   |    | b3 |   |
 | 5 |    | 6 | b7 |    |   |
 |   | b3 |   | 4  |    |   |
 | 6 | b7 |   | R  |    |   |
 |   | 4  |   | 5  |    |   |

In theory, the fourth fingering could have a couple, but in practice only one is easy:

 |   | 5  |    | 6 | b7 |
 |   |    | b3 |   | 4  |
 | 6 | b7 |    | R |    |
 |   | 4  |    | 5 |    |
 |   | R  |    |   | b3 |
 |   | 5  |    | 6 | b7 |

And it’s the same with the fifth fingering:

 |   | b7 |   | R  |
 |   | 4  |   | 5  |
 | R |    |   | b3 |
 | 5 |    | 6 | b7 |
 |   | b3 |   | 4  |
 | 6 | b7 |   | R  |

Tom (“Noteboat”) Serb is a longtime Guitar Noise contributor and founder of the Midwest Music Academyin Plainfield, Illinois. This advice first appeared in Volume 4 # 16 of Guitar Noise News. Sign-up for our newsletter to receive more free tips like this by email.

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About Tom Serb

Tom Serb is a Chicago area guitarist who has been making music professionally since 1978. Over the course of the past twenty-five years he has managed to amuse himself by teaching, writing, performing, producing and composing. He is the author of Music Theory for Guitarists (NoteBoat, Inc., 2003), and a frequent contributor to the Guitar Noise forums.

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