How To Play the Locrian #2 Mode on Guitar

The Locrian #2 Mode is your best choice of scale to play over a m7b5 chord. Unlike the Locrian Mode which has a somewhat nasty b9 in it, this beautiful scale has a major 9th which sounds great and modern.

Before you get started on this scale, check out my locrian mode lesson so you can see where I am coming from.

Use this lesson to:

  • Understand the theory behind this scale.
  • Learn the easiest approach to improvising with it.
  • Accustom your ears to its sound.
  • Have fun while learning.

The m95b Locrian #2 Chord

Do you know how to play a minor 9 b5 chord? Chords and scales go hand in hand. Your first step to learning any mode is to play the chord and tune your ears into its individual sound.

locrian #2
If you need some m9b5 voicings, check out a few here before continuing.

Note: The #2 in ‘locrian #2’ refers to the major 2nd (or 9th) of the scale. Instead of a flat 2 as found in the normal locrian scale, the 2 is raised to be a natural two. Confusing right?

The Locrian #2 Scale

melodic minor mode
Can you see how it is like the locrian mode, just with a major 9th instead of a b9?

Fingering

Here is how to play the locrian #2 Scale on the guitar, in two positions. Numbers indicate fingers. The white circle is the root note of the scale. You can easily move these shapes around the fret board, just center the white circle on the root note of your chosen scale.

melodic minor mode melodic minor mode

How To HEAR the Locrian #2 Mode

To start off with, it is handy to relate this mode back to its parent melodic minor scale.

But to really HEAR the unique sound of this mode you need appreciate it as its own entity.

Try this:

  • Forget about the parent melodic minor scale.
  • Record a m9b5 chord and play through the scale slowly.
  • Accustom your ears its sound.
  • Try this with all your modes, think of each mode as its own unique scale.

To sum up, modes are easy to learn because they share the same notes as each other. But to get your ears around them, think of each mode as a unique scale and key center.

How Do I Use the Locrian #2 Scale?

  • In the Locrian #2 scale your inside notes are: 1 b3 b5 b7.
  • Color tones (in order of consonance to dissonance) are 11, b13, 9.

Pre 1960’s jazz musicians used the locrian mode on m7b5 chords. So if you want an old school sound use locrian. For a more modern sound use locrian #2

Locrian #2 Summary

ScaleLocrian Mode
ChordHalf diminished m7b5, m7b4 sus4, m9b5, m11b5
NotesR, 9, b3, 4, b5, b6, b7
C Locrian #2C, D, Eb, F, Gb, Ab , Bb
Chord/ Guide Tonesb3, b5 and b7
Color Tones11, b6, 9
Avoid Notesnone!
Sam's TipThis is a really hip scale to use on m7b chords. I am still working on hearing the major 9th after spending so much time using the normal locrian mode, but I am getting there!

How To Learn the Locrian #2 Scale

Follow these 3 steps:

  • Play it a few times, up and down.
  • Record a m9b5 chord. Play the scale and listen to how each note sounds over the chord.
  • Check out, How to Practice Jazz Guitar Scales. Apply the patterns I use in that lesson to get your muscle memory happening.

Spend some time on this scale. It has no avoid notes so you can’t make a mistake. Get your ear accustomed to that major 9th. Play around with it, and most importantly – have fun!

Keep Learning

Here is some further reading I recommend you check out:

More Free Melodic Minor Mode Lessons

Thanks for checking out this lesson, please feel free to leave a comment below with any suggestions or questions you may have.

~ Sam Blakelock | pickupjazz.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *