The A sharp Major Scale is an interesting scale. It actually contains 4 sharps and 3 double sharps. A double sharp is a note that is raised by 2 semitones (2 frets) instead of 1 (ie a sharp). A double sharp is represented by an x. Because of this, A Sharp Major is a bit of a ‘messy’ scale and is usually avoided, or replaced by the Bb major scale.
The notes in an A Sharp Major Scale are:
A# – B# – Cx – D# – E# – Fx – Gx
Since A sharp and B flat are enharmonically the same, it is a lot easier to work in B flat rather than A sharp. Having said all that, it can be helpful to analyse the A# Major scale in isolation. If you are feeling on top of your major scale theory, studying the key of A sharp will at least you a bit of theory consolidation. I would recommend avoiding this post however, if you are still learning about Major scales. I never use A sharp major. I understand it, but never use it. I use B flat lots though, which is essentially the same thing. If someone says to me, “play me an A sharp Major scale”, I immediately tell myself, “play the B flat Major Scale”.
You might have realized that B# is actually the same note as C natural. Why then would we call it B#? This is because you can’t have a B and a C and Cx in the one key. If we were to write out the scale and used the equivalent notes without following the correct conventions, the scale could look like this (it would be WRONG though):
A# – C – D – D# – F – G – A
While the above example may look a lot neater (and easier to read), it produces A natural and A sharp. It also produces D natural and D sharp. This is undesirable. However, if you genuinely understand the scale, there’s no reason why you can’t come up with your own preferences for referring to the scale. Rules were meant to be broken. Just make sure you understand the fundamentals before breaking away.
If you are interested in learning about modes and guitar scales, it should be pointed out that the A# Major scale is effectively the same scale as the A# ionian scale. For the purpose of the series of lessons on guitar modes, we are going to treat A# ionian and A# Major as identical scales (which they are).
A# Major Scale In The Open Position
Firstly, let’s look at the A# Major scale in the open position. The open position simply means that there is at least one open string involved, when playing the scale. Here it is:
A# Major Scale CAGED Positions
There are five more positions, based on the CAGED system. Remember these positions are movable, which means that you can move them along the fretboard if you want to change keys.
Here are the 5 CAGED positions for the A# Major scale on the guitar (notes and tabs).
A# Major Scale in the 1st Position (lowest fret is 1)
A# Major Scale in the 5th Position (lowest fret is 5)
A# Major Scale in the 6th Position (lowest fret is 6)
A# Major Scale in the 10th Position (lowest fret is 10)
A# Major Scale in the 11th Position (lowest fret is 11)
How to Use the A# Major Scale
For the purpose of improvising, the A# Major scale can be used over the A# Major chord, the A# Major 7 chord, as well as other chords within the key of A# Major:
- A# Major/A# Major 7
- B# minor (same as C minor)/B# minor 7 (same as C minor 7)
- Cx Minor (same as D minor)/Cx minor 7 (same as D minor 7)
- D# Major/D# Major 7
- E# Major (same as F Major)/E# Dominant 7 (same as F dominant 7)
- Fx minor (same as G minor)/Fx minor 7 (same as G minor 7)
- Gx diminished (same as A diminished)/Gx half diminished (same as A half diminished 7)
Modes Of The A# Major Scale
There are 7 modes in the key of A#. We can produce these modes by playing the notes of the A# Major scale, while starting on different notes of the scale. For example, to play the D# lydian mode, we start on the note D# and then play the notes of the A# Major scale.
Here are the 7 modes in the key of A# Major:
- A sharp Major scale
- B# Dorian
- Cx Phrygian (impractical mode)
- D# Lydian
- E# Mixolydian
- Fx Aeolian (impractical mode)
- Gx Locrian (impractical mode)