Lead Guitar Solo Lesson: Mixolydian b6 Guitar Scale

by Tom Hess


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You are about to learn what is quite possibly the saddest, most dramatic & most emotional guitar scale ever.

This guitar scale drips with so much emotion, it’s almost impossible to play lead guitar licks from it without triggering feelings of longing, sadness or melancholy in your lead guitar playing.

What is this guitar scale?

I'm of course talking about the 5th mode of melodic minor.

This guitar scale is also known as:

Mixolydian b6.

In this article, I show you how to milk every drop of emotion from this guitar scale for your lead guitar playing pleasure…

…using simple lead guitar techniques that make you sound pro (even if you are not an advanced lead guitar player yet).

Ready to start?

Watch this video where I show how to play this guitar scale, so you can use it in your lead guitar solos starting today:
 


Now that you know how to play the 5th mode of melodic minor, here are some ways you can squeeze more drama and emotion from every note of this lead guitar scale:


Mixolydian b6 Guitar Scale Idea #1: Learn All 7 Positions Of The Melodic Minor Scale


The Secret To Adding Fire &
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
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Just because you know the notes that go into melodic minor (or Mixolydian b6 mode)…

...doesn't mean you truly know this scale on a deep level.

Here is what I mean: 

Most guitarists just play the very first shape of the melodic minor (or Mixolydian b6) guitar scale and never learn the other 6 shapes. 

The result?

They severely limit their lead guitar playing. 

And after learning lead guitar licks like the ones in this article…

…they get stuck only playing them the way they are written.

(And never move them around to other shapes of the melodic minor scale.) 

Playing lead guitar this way gets boring pretty fast. (No matter what guitar scale you learn.)

The solution?

Learn all 7 shapes of the melodic minor guitar scale and practice them all over the fretboard when you play lead guitar. Then, create melodic minor scale sequences. This is a great way to get the fingerings of the melodic minor guitar scale under your fingers fluently.

(This is also how you get the most from the Mixolydian b6 guitar scale and make it part of your lead guitar playing.)

This lead guitar playing video shows how (using the major scale as the guitar scale example): 
 

Mixolydian b6 Guitar Scale Idea #2: Use Advanced String Bends

“Bah!” you say. “I know how to bend strings”. And what does this have to do with Mixolydian b6 guitar scale under my fingers?

Answer:

String bends bring out the most emotional elements of the Mixolydian b6 guitar scale. When you combine expressive lead guitar phrasing with natural drama of the Mixolydian b6 guitar scale, you get:

Kickass lead guitar playing!

Check out this advanced lead guitar bending lesson and I’ll teach you how to play advanced lead guitar string bends most guitarists don't know (these work for any guitar scale, not just Mixolydian b6 ):
 


Question: “Tom Hess, I am practicing the licks from the Mixolydian b6 guitar scale, but I have a hard time muting string noise when I bend strings. Any tips for cleaning up my lead guitar playing?”

Answer: Use thumb muting. Rest your picking hand’s thumb on the lower (in pitch) strings. This will keep the strings from making noise when you play and make all your playing ( using any guitar scale, not just Mixolydian b6 ) a lot cleaner.
 

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Mixolydian b6 Guitar Scale Idea #3: Use Rubato

Rubato is a little-known (and simple) lead guitar technique that makes your guitar solos almost as unique to you as your fingerprints.

(Using any guitar scale - not just melodic minor or Mixolydian b6.)

It has nothing to do with playing lead guitar fast.

It has nothing to do with knowing some obscure guitar scale or music theory.

It’s a way to stretch time in your guitar licks (and solos) & “milk” emotional drama from the rhythm of your notes.

(That’s why I love using it when soloing in melodic minor keys, using the Mixolydian b6 guitar scale specifically.)

And although it is simple, it’s very hard to do Rubato the same way as someone else.

That’s why, when you get good at Rubato, you may hear others say: “this totally sounds like you” the moment they hear your solos (no matter what guitar scale you use - melodic minor or not).

Want to see how it works?

Check out this video and add rubato to the Mixolydian b6 guitar scale ideas you learned in this article:
 


Mixolydian b6 Guitar Scale Idea #4: Practice Musical Refinement

Do this:

Play any guitar lick using the 5th mode of melodic minor (Mixolydian b6 guitar scale) and ask yourself:

“How does this lick sound to me on a scale of 1-10?”

If the lick sounds less than 10, play it again. Only this time, refine some element of the lick using phrasing ornaments.

Use the same phrasing ornaments on your melodic minor licks as you'd use on any other guitar scale. 

Keep the notes (use the same pitches from the Mixolydian b6 guitar scale), but change how you play them.

Here is how to do it:
 


After refining some part of the lick, play it again and see where it falls on the 1-10 scale.

Keep doing this until you are consistently playing all of your melodic minor guitar licks at a level of 9 or 10.

This is a great lead guitar exercise to do with any guitar scale you practice (not just melodic minor or Mixolydian b6 ).

Bonus tip: transcribe vocal melodies of your favorite singers on guitar. And mimic their phrasing style as closely as you can. This will make your solos sound more original and give you new ideas for how to refine your guitar licks.

Just for fun, you can also transpose their melodies into the melodic minor guitar scale (or the Mixolydian b6 mode). This helps your fretboard visualization and musical ear.
 

How To Play Amazing Guitar Solos


Musical refinement is one of the most important skills I teach my guitar students to help them express themselves in their lead guitar playing. Focus on this skill on your journey to master the melodic minor scale (and the Mixolydian b6 mode).


Mixolydian b6 Guitar Scale Idea #5: Learn Over The Bar Phrasing With The Melodic Minor Guitar Scale

Most guitarists try to make every lick they play fit into 1 measure.

This gets boring fast. (Even if you use the Mixolydian b6 mode of the melodic minor guitar scale.)

Try this new approach for your lead guitar playing:

Make some of your melodic minor Mixolydian b6 melodic minor guitar licks last longer, so they stretch over the barline.

This is an easy way to make your melodic minor guitar playing sound different from what you might normally play.

Not to mention – you instantly stand out from most other guitar players (even those who also use the Mixolydian b6 mode or other modes of melodic minor).

What does soloing over the barline mean and how do you do it with the melodic minor Mixolydian b6 licks I showed you?

Check out this video where I show it to you in detail:
 


Mixolydian b6 Guitar Scale Idea #6: Emphasize the b6

Every guitar scale has its key note that contains most of the emotion of that scale.

In the case of 5th mode of melodic minor?

The most important note of Mixolydian b6 guitar scale is the... b6. 

When you bend into it, make the bends slow sustain them for a long time. And do more pre-bends that involve the b6 note.

Pre-bends are a great phrasing device for bringing out more emotion from any scale (especially melodic minor).


Common questions about the Mixolydian b6 guitar scale:

Question: "Tom Hess, do I need to wait until I master other melodic minor guitar scale shapes to practice soloing in the 5th mode of melodic minor?

Answer: Of course not. In fact, you are going master melodic minor guitar shapes AND learn to solo in the 5th mode of melodic minor at the exact same time.

It's like this: 

Scale "shapes" only exist on guitar. In music (outside of guitar), there is no such thing as scale "shapes" like there are guitar scale shapes. So, in the case of melodic minor, there is only ONE melodic minor scale. (Think of how the melodic minor scale would be laid out on a keyword for example.) Your goal with learning guitar scale shapes is to learn to see the 7 melodic minor shapes as ONE guitar scale. 

When you have these melodic minor scale shapes memorized, you can visualize the complete (melodic minor) guitar scale all over the fretboard. These 7 guitar scale shapes snap together like 7 pieces of a guitar scale jigsaw puzzle. 

You are now ready to play lead guitar in any melodic minor mode using the melodic minor scale.

And soloing in Mixolydian b6 mode is made possible by the chords you are playing lead guitar melodies over. The chord progression is what creates the sound of the 5th mode of melodic minor key. The notes of the melodic minor scale don't change.
 

Question: "Tom Hess, the terms "Melodic minor" and Mixolydian b6 sound really advanced and intimidating. Should I maybe wait until I am better at soloing using other guitar scales before using melodic minor modes (like the Mixolydian b6 from this lead guitar article)?"

Answer: No. Soloing in the Mixolydian b6 mode isn't any harder than soloing in (for example) the major key. This mode is simply unfamiliar to most people. As a guitar scale, it's no different than any other scale you may already know. Mixolydian b6 mode is just a 7-note melodic minor scale. Once you have all 7 of its shape memorized, you are ready to play lead guitar solos using it.

The chords in the Mixolydian b6 create the sound of that specific melodic minor mode. Once you know what chords to play, you are free to use the melodic minor scale shapes over them. You solo using exactly the same lead guitar soloing principles you'd use to improvise in any other key.

Bottom line: if you can play lead guitar using the major scale - you can play lead guitar using melodic minor modes as well :)

That said, if you are brand new to lead guitar improvising, take some lead guitar soloing lessons first. And the principles you learn will make you a better lead guitarist no matter what guitar scale you use to solo. 
 

Question: "Tom Hess, what other cool guitar scales can I use to help my lead guitar playing?"

Answer: Many. But before you focus on learning other guitar scales, go deep with the melodic minor mode you just learned. Practice your lead guitar playing with this new guitar scale first. This can keep you busy for weeks. By the time you feel confident with playing in Mixolydian b6 mode, you'll be ready to learn other guitar scales :)

Now that you know how to make your melodic minor guitar solos sound better, the next step is to transform the rest of your guitar playing in ways that go beyond learning a few licks.

I can help with that inside my Breakthrough Guitar Lessons. 
 

Online Breakthrough Guitar Lessons With Tom Hess


When we work together, I create lessons specifically for you, your skill level, your goals and your musical interests. And if you practice what I teach you for at least 30 minutes per day, it becomes almost impossible for you not to improve. 

Click the green "Start Now" button to learn more.
 


Tom HessAbout Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.

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