The Whole Tone Scale (Single String)

The Whole Tone Scale (Single String)

The whole tone scale consists of 6 consecutive major 2nds.
The notes in the key of C are: C D E F# G# Bb/A#

Songs that use mostly whole tone scale harmony are extremely rare, because of the sameness of sound.
It’s really only in jazz–music that you would find tunes using this scale. (“One Down, One Up”, “Juju”).

The intro to “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” (Stevie Wonder) has a whole tone scale line.
Another great whole tone scale example is the main hook to “Coffy Is The Color” (Ron Ayers), the soundtrack for a 70’s movie with Pam Grier in the lead role.

The whole tone scale is a symmetrical, 6-note scale comprised of a series of whole steps.
“Symmetrical” means that all notes in the scale are equal distance from one another. The result of this is that all chords have exactly the same structure.

The scale formula is:

1 – 9 – 3 – #4 – #5 – b7

The C whole tone scale could be used over
Caug, C7#5, C9#5, C7b5, C9b5

Here’s how the C whole tone scale looks like mapped out on 1 string:


Shoot me an email at if you would like me to email you backing tracks to jam with the whole tone scale.
In next week’s blog, we’ll cover the in-position fingerings.

You’re on your way to becoming a better guitar player.
Have fun! 🙂


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