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How To Shred On Augmented Scales (20 Exercises)

A hip scale to give your lines some flavor


Major scales, minor scales, modes, and more—there are plenty of scales to choose from when you’re taking a solo or writing a phrase. Some scales are more common than others, while some lend a more unique color to your sound.


Today we’re going to talk about the augmented scale, which is a less common scale you can use on a solo over a major seventh chord, a minor chord, or even a ii-V-I.


To get to know this scale better, we’re going to look at how this scale is built, and we’ll run through five exercises to get you more comfortable using it in your own playing.


But first, make sure to check out our PDF package 20 Exercises for Augmented Scale Technique and our video on these exercises so you can get more out of your practice on this scale.


How to play the augmented scale


We’ll start by building the scale—which is an alternating pattern of minor thirds and half steps.


Here’s an example of a B-flat augmented scale:


Bb - Db - D - F - Gb - A - Bb



You’ll notice that the scale contains both a major and minor third, which makes this scale very versatile to play over a major or minor chord.


One thing to note, and this is a common misconception—this scale works best over a major 7 chord, because it has the major seventh interval. Many people will use it over a dominant 7 chord, which clashes the major 7 with the b7. That’s not to say you can’t use it over a dominant chord, but a tonic dominant chord is not diatonic to the scale. For an augmented 7th chord (or dominant #5 chord), you’ll want to check out the Mixolydian flat 6 or whole tone scale.


Most of all, the scale works naturally over an augmented (or major sharp 5 chord), as the name implies.


Looking at the chords in the augmented scale we have:

​Bb major (Bbmaj7)

​Db+

​D major (Dmaj7)

​F+

​Gb major (Gbmaj7)

​A+

​Bb minor (BbmM7)

​D minor (DmM7)

Gb minor (GbmM7)

Bb+ (Bb+maj7)

​D+ (D+maj7)

​Gb+ (Gb+maj7)

As you can see, the chords from this scale are unique—with plenty of minor-major seventh chords and augmented major seventh chords, sometimes with several chord possibilities from a single root note. By adding suspensions and other extensions, you can coax even more creative combinations out of this scale.


Where does this scale come from?


When you look closely, you notice that it is really a type of hexatonic scale built from a triad pair. The triad