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Metal Scales for Soloing

Jaimie A. Travis (213) · [archive]
Style: Metal · Level: Intermediate · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1

Metal Scales for Soloing

So the question to me was... "I went out and bought a book on scales to help me with my my solos but now the problem is that there are too many and I am no wiz so if you had any insight as to what scales would help me the most when it comes to Metal Solos?"

As far as the "sound" of the modes go, phrygian, aeolian, locrian and the blues scale are the one's that will help you the most in your metal solos.

Dimebag (from Pantera) uses a combination of aeolian and the blues scale most of the time. Planet Caravan, Walk, Cemetary Gates, all use combinations of these two scales.

Phrygian has a very dark sound. A song that you are probably familar with, that uses the phrygian mode, is Where Ever I May Roam by Metallica. Phrygian can be used over anything with that same E Power Chord - F Power Chord kind of sound.

Locrian has an extremely dark sound. If you are playing over something that is using an E Power Chord and a Bb Power Chord together, you can use locrian for your solo. Keep in mind, this could be in any key... I'm just using E as a reference point.

Another thing to keep in mind, is that if you want to be able to play over your entire neck, you should learn "all" of the modes because they are all relative. A good thing to do to practice improvising is record yourself playing a rhythm based off of one of the modes (the easiest way to do this is simply build a power chord off of each note of the scale) then practice playing over it. Recording quality is not important - you just want something to play along with.

Here is what I meant when I said all the modes are relative. If you record something based on E Phrygian (E, F, E, F, G, F) you can use E Phrygian to solo over it and you can also use any mode from the same key. C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian and B Locrian all contain the same notes. So they could be used together in a solo to play up and down the neck.

Here are some modes that are relative to each other. If you are playing in:

E Phrygian ---- you can also use C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian and B Locrian.

E Aeolian ---- you can also use G Ionian, A Dorian, B Phrygian, C Lydian, D Mixolydian, E Aeolian and F# Locrian.

E Locrian ---- you can also use F Ionian, G Dorian, A Phrygian, Bb Lydian, C Mixolydian, D Aeolian and E Locrian.

If you want to add a bit of bluesy flavor, just start your blues scale on E and you can weave in between your modes and your blues scale.

A few other scales you might want to check out are harmonic minor (Sepultura uses this a lot) and Phrygian Dominant (aka Phrygian Major 3rd).


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