How to Layer Guitar Scales in Usable Segments

A full scale pattern. Image via

Full Professional Guitar Lessons & Song Tutorials



  • Build continuous melody from the bottom register (low strings) to the higher register (top strings)
  • Use portions of a scale that exceed the limitations of octaves, continuing in both directions
  • Layer scales with other scales and modes to expand existing segments

Setting Up Scales and Getting Started

  1. Key
  2. Structure

Guitar Scale Segment #1: The C Dorian Mode

In GuitarLayers I select the key of C and Dorian mode (structure) which displays a full fretboard of scale notes made up of the seven notes in the Dorian mode, since it is technically a diatonic scale.
Use the “Fretboard Constraints” option (or simply make a note if you’re not using the software) to map a segment of the C Dorian mode vertically, to actually use the shape.
The same segment translated to tablature for easier reading.


  • C Dorian
  • F Dorian
Layering the F and C Dorian modes.
  1. Plot your first scale using a limited vertical fret space
  2. Layer your second scale over or next to the same spot
The C and F Dorian patterns can overlap at any point on the fretboard.

Guitar Scale Segment #2: The C Minor Pentatonic

Notice where the first two root C notes occur.
The C minor pentatonic scale positioned between the fifth and eighth frets in guitar tab form.
A combination of notes from the third and fifth fret forms of the C minor pentatonic scale.

Guitar Scale Segment #3: Lydian Mode in the Key of E

  • Base Scale: E Major Pentatonic
  • Layered Mode: Lydian
E minor pentatonic scale at the seventh fret position.
The Lydian mode notes can be thought of as “modification” to the base pentatonic scale, giving us an easy way to add notes to an otherwise predictable scale shape.


  • How to isolate scale segments
  • How to layer scales with other modes and/or scale shapes
  • How to combine multiple scale segments
  • How to use modes as scale “add-ons”




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