Most used scales and modes in rock and heavy metal
If you play the guitar, you will surely want to know which scales and modes are the most used in rock and heavy metal.
First and foremost, good bands get quality riffs out of any scale, so it is false to talk about "heavy metal scales" and understand that it is a boundary of about four or five scales. In fact, one of the virtues of these groups is the great musical experimentation they do, in which they also implement the scales used.
There are many scales and modes used in rock and metal music, especially the scales and modes with an exotic touch, as these create a more mysterious and forceful sound.
Many, if not all, experiment with these exotic scales looking for new sounds or more tribal cultural rhythms according to the influence of some area of the world. A clear example of this is the work of Max Cavalera, both in Sepultura and in Soulfly.
Well, do you want to know which scales they are? Well, let's see them.
Most used rock and metal guitar scales
The most used scale because of its exotic and mysterious touch is the minor harmonic scale. Among some famous guitarists who use it are Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Vai, Uli Jon Roth, and Alexi Laiho; it is also widely used in classical music.
The most used in the most classic metal bands are the major and minor pentatonic, C scales, minor harmonic, and blues scales (it is logical considering that the root of this tree is the blues).
A widely used scale is the pentatonic scale. This is the most used scale in guitar solos. A guitarist who dominates it in an incredible way is Zakk Wylde; among other famous guitarists, it is also used by Tony Iommi, Dave Mustaine, or Kirk Hammet.
The superphrygian scale is the fifth mode of the minor harmonic scale and is used in the theme "Powerslave" by the group Iron Maiden.
Another exotic scale used is the Byzantine scale; we can hear it in the Rainbow's theme "Gates of Babylon".
The minor Hungarian scale is used by Chris Broderick in the theme "Head Crusher" by Megadeth.
Another scale with an oriental sound is the Persian scale, used by Black Sabbath in the theme "Symptom of the Universe".
The Japanese scale is widely used by a guitar virtuoso like Marty Friedman; so is Jason Becker, among others.
The major pentatonic scale is widely used by the Allman Brothers Band or the bluesman BB King.
The minor harmonic scale is frequently used by Malmsteen and all the bands in which the guitarists were influenced by this musician; the scale that uses mostly neoclassical power metal and a few heavy bands.
Most used rock and metal guitar modes
Apart from the scales, we cannot forget the modes; all of them are very used in rock and heavy metal music:
- Ionian mode
Widely used by Slash and Paul Gilbert.
- Dorian Mode
Carlos Santana uses this mode a lot.
- Phrygian Mode
Kirk Hammet and Yngwie Malmsteen use it.
- Lydian Mode
Steve Vai is an example of a guitarist who uses it.
- Mixolydian mode
A clear example of this mode is Eddie Van Halen.
- Aeolian Mode
Adrian Smith and Dave Murray, guitarists of Iron Maiden, use this mode a lot.
- Locrian Mode
Widely used by Joe Satriani.
Riffs based on scales
Scale based riffs are another of the most used resources. They consist of selecting a series of notes from a scale and playing with them. It is similar to creating a melody, but in an electric guitar, the result is different. The important thing in this kind of riff is the distance between the notes, their repetition, and mainly their shape. As it says in the first part, and it is worth noting: it is usually a handful of notes, that is, the whole scale is not played. An example is the riff of "Beat it" from Michael Jackson's song, created by Eddie Van Halen.
Now that you know which are the most used scales, and modes in rock and metal, use them in your daily practice, start mastering and internalizing them, and you will see how soon you will be getting the songs and riffs from your idols.
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