How to Determine the Appropriate Scale for Soloing

Video how to know what scale to use when soloing


In this article, I will provide you with a simple and effective tool to instantly determine which scale to use when soloing over any rock, pop, or metal chord progression. It’s not necessary to delve into complex music theory; this tool will do the trick.

Finding the Key and Chord Progression

To begin, you need to identify two things: the key you’re in and the type of chord progression.

Finding the Key

To find the key, you can either ask someone or assume that the last chord in the song represents the key’s root chord. For example, if the song ends on a C Major or Minor chord, you’re in the key of C!

Finding the Root Note

Next, locate the root note on your low E-string. If you’re in the key of C, the 8th fret on the low E-string will give you the note C:
C Root Note

Determining the Scale

Now that you know the key, it’s time to determine which scale to use.

Blues Rock or Regular Minor?

If you’re uncertain whether you’re in a Blues Rock or a Regular Minor context, start by playing the C-pentatonic Minor scale. If it sounds great, you’ve narrowed it down. To confirm, play the Dorian pattern over your pentatonic scale and listen to whether the added note sounds pleasing or not:
C-Pentatonic Minor Scale
Dorian Pattern
If the added note sounds great, you can continue playing the C-Dorian scale with the C-Minor pentatonic Blues scale on top of it.

See also  Fortnite Split Screen: How to Play and Which Platforms Support It

Regular Minor

On the other hand, if playing the added note sounds awful, it indicates that you’re in the key of C-Minor. In this case, play the C-Minor pentatonic scale:
C-Minor Pentatonic Scale
Remember, you can check if the Dorian or Natural Minor scale works by emphasizing the added note. This note will determine whether you should use the Dorian scale with your Minor Pentatonic or the Natural Minor scale.

Alternative Approach

If the Minor Pentatonic scale sounds strange, there’s no need to persist with the Dorian or Natural Minor scales, as they will sound just as unpleasant. Instead, you can move the scale pattern down three frets and play the C-note with your pinky finger:
C-Major Pentatonic Scale
This is now the C-Major pentatonic scale. Place the Natural Minor shape on top of it, resulting in the following:
C-Major Scale
Now you’re playing the C-Major scale along with the C-Major pentatonic.

Harmonic Minor and Phrygian Mode

If none of the previous approaches seem to work, you’re likely dealing with a Harmonic Minor context. In this case, refer to the Harmonic Minor shape, located five frets above C, and turn it into the Harmonic Minor shape:
Harmonic Minor Shape
Now you’re ready to shred over a C-Phrygian chord progression, Yngwie style! Please note that this tool provides a basic understanding, and there are additional details I haven’t covered in this article. This is a tool I use daily myself, eliminating the need for playing other scales or using different tools to solo over rock, pop, or metal songs.


By utilizing this tool, you can quickly and confidently determine which scale to use when soloing without even knowing the exact chords of the song. Trust your ears and rely on this simple system. We’ve covered a lot in this article series, and in the next installment, I’ll show you a fast and practical way to implement everything we’ve discussed. With this foundation, you’ll achieve instant fretboard vision in a more enjoyable manner. Stay tuned!

See also  Mastering the Art of Turnover in Netball


Note: This article was written in collaboration with 5 WS.

The 5 Ws and H are questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving. will best answer all your questions

Related Posts

Calvin and Hobbes: Exploring the Depths of Imagination

A Timeless Comic Strip That Transcends Generations It’s been over ten years since the last Calvin and Hobbes comic strip was published, but the enduring popularity of…

When to Start Calling Turkeys in the Morning

When to Start Calling Turkeys in the Morning

by Donald Devereaux Jarrett I think we all prefer to call a lot to a turkey, even excessively, rather than keep it to a minimum. Personally, I…

Is Your Lawn Mower Struggling to Start When Hot?

Video why does my lawn mower not start when hot Does your lawn mower perform flawlessly when it’s cold, only to falter and stall when it gets…

When Do You Typically Use an RJ11 Connector?

If you’re familiar with the telecommunications industry or have ever set up a landline connection, chances are you’ve come across an RJ11 connector. This versatile tool plays…

The Historic Relocation of The Royal Mint to Wales

Throughout centuries of wars, political upheavals, and scientific advancements, The Royal Mint has stood as a symbol of British history, reflected in our nation’s coins. However, it…

I’ll Praise You When I Face Obstacles

Video i’ll praise you when the mountains in my way A Song of Hope and Encouragement for Every Journey What is the Meaning of the Song “Highlands”?…