How to Incorporate Exotic Scales and Modes into Your Playing

exotic scales and modes for guitar

Experimenting with exotic scales and modes is a fantastic way to get inspired if you’ve hit a dry patch, or to simply expand your scale knowledge and bring some new flavors into your soloing. A lot of players get excited about exotic scales but take one look at the scale patterns and get disheartened; so I’ve come up with a solution based on the 2 Position Scale System to easily incorporate exotic scales into your playing. If you’re not familiar with the system, then please check out the tutorial so that we can apply it to exotic scales, and forget about learning five or more new positions as you would have to with the CAGED or 3NPS scales systems.

I’m assuming you’re already well-versed in the Modes and the Melodic Minor and Harmonic Minor scales. So, if you already know the Harmonic Minor (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, 7) then it’s not a huge jump to the Hungarian Minor (1, 2, b3, #4, 5, b6, 7) as there’s only a one note difference, the 4th. In the CAGED or 3NPS systems you would have to learn 5 or 7 new scale patterns, but with the 2 Position System we’ve reduced this by about 90% so that you can get to the fun part (actually making music) quicker.

The Hungarian Minor scale is a type of combined musical scale. It is the fourth mode of the double harmonic scale. It is the same as the harmonic minor scale except that it has a raised fourth scale degree. Its tonal center is slightly ambiguous due to the large number of half steps. It figures prominently in Eastern European music, particularly in Romani music. Melodies based on this scale have an exotic, romantic flavor for listeners accustomed to more typical Western scales. The scale has also been adopted and used for many years by shred players such as Joe Satriani whose tune, ‘Musterion’, is based on this scale.

Take a look at both scales in the key of A. As you’ll know, in the 2 Position Scale System there are only ever two patterns to learn per scale, I call them the forward and backward positions.

Harmonic Minor forward position:

Hungarian Minor forward position:
Harmonic Minor backward position:
Hungarian Minor backward position:
If you haven’t already, check out the tutorial to know how to move these patterns around the neck and cover the whole fretboard. You should be able to learn any scale all over the fretboard in a matter of hours.

When you’re comfortable with the scale patterns, try playing over this backing track. The one below is for E Hungarian Minor, which means you’ll have to switch root notes from A patterns above. Fortunately this is another benefit of the 2 Position System as all the patterns are movable and the same rules apply.


If you enjoyed experimenting with exotic scales and modes in this lesson, check out our Exotic Scales and Modes eBook which features 18 of the most common exotic scales and modes, how to incorporate them into your playing, or over standard chord progressions to add a little spice, and how to come up with your own chord progressions and riffs using exotic scales and modes.

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About Graham Tippett 301 Articles
Compulsive guitar blogger and writer of many innovative guitar books.

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