I'm looking for ideas to memorize the 7 positions of the melodic minor on the guitar fretboard. Any suggestions? Is there a way to map each pattern to a chord shape? Or a way to quickly visualize the notes of the mode on the fretboard when playing in a certain position on the neck?


  • 1
    Since major scales are deemed to have 5 separate patterns, then melodic minor scales will also be deemed to have 5. Thus their modes will follow suit. True, there are 7 notes to each. And - are you considering classical or jazz melodic minor notes?
    – Tim
    Sep 6 at 7:44
  • Jazz melodic minor notes. Can the 5 separate patterns be associated with chords like CAGED?
    – Vivek Ayer
    Sep 6 at 11:50
  • CAGE(D) works for me with chord shapes, and I don't teach associated scales. Jazz MM only differs from the parallel major by m3/M3, so I think about it as a slightly different major scale - and the related modes, which I refer back to the parent rather than as separate entities - just my way!
    – Tim
    Sep 6 at 14:58
  • I'm a bit confused here. "Modes of a scale," as far as I've seen, usually denotes rotations, so for example the scale from GABCDEFG is a mode of CDEFGABC. Would a mode of A melodic minor be EF♯G♯ABCDE ascending and EDCBAGFE descending? @Tim what is "jazz" melodic minor? Does it have a blue note on 6 and or 7? Or on 5?
    – phoog
    Sep 6 at 16:55
  • @phoog - don't be confused - it's simple! Jazz players tend to eschew the descending version of the classical mel. min., and use the ascending set of notes as a basis. No b5, although personally, any of the 12 available notes are exactly that - available - for use anywhere. So modes of mel. min. work just as Dorian, Phrygian etc. do from parent major. In fact, with only one note difference - making it pretty straightforward, I guess!
    – Tim
    Sep 6 at 17:22

The website Jazz Guitar Online, has a page with very complete information about (jazz) melodic minor and its modes.1 Given for each mode are:

  • the primary and alternate names
  • chords that work with that scale
  • the note names
  • scale degree alternations based on major
  • "play-along" audio for the scale
  • a fret-board map
  • an example lick with standard and tab notation, plus another play-along recording.

Of particular note are the chord references, which might assist in finding and memorizing shapes for each scale.

  • Mode 1: min, min-maj7
  • Mode 2: b9sus4
  • Mode 3: maj7#5
  • Mode 4: dom7#11
  • Mode 5: dom7b13
  • Mode 6: m7b5 (half diminished)
  • Mode 7: dom7 with alterations

1 "Classical" melodic minor raises scale degrees 6 and 7 ascending and lowers them descending. "Jazz" melodic minor uses the raised 6 and 7 in both directions.

  • 2
    I didn't downvote, but I think the OP is asking something like, what to actually do with all that material. My own advice would be to divide and conquer the mode set one by one, spend hours utilizing each mode from different aspects, chords and melodies, maybe try to do songs in each of them, in different fretboard positions etc. There's no "trick", just work... but it helps if you have a plan for the work. :) Sep 6 at 18:26

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