Friday, August 22, 2014

Scale Patterns

Q: I was wondering about scale patterns. Looking through your lessons, I notice that the major scale patterns that you use are unlike the ones that my teacher showed me. He seems to think that the 3-note per string patterns are the best ones to use. The problem is that there are 7 different patterns to remember while the ones that you refer to have only 5. What is your opinion?

A: The ones that I generally refer to are sort of the standard patterns for teaching. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are the best but they are the more or less, generic (for the lack of better words). They are just simple to play and remember, and as you said, there are only five. 

In truth, there are countless ways to play any one scale. Take a C major scale for example. It is just a C-D-E-F-G-A-B note scale. We, as guitar players, tend to think in physical patterns but it doesn't have to be so. Just play every C-D-E-F-G-A-B note on your fretboard, and you will be playing a C major scale regardless of where you start or finish. I can play it from my open 6th string (which is an E note) all the way to the 22nd fret on my first string bent up to E hitting every diatonic note in-between.  I can shift strings here and there to get up there, and by my calculations, from E to E, makes it a four octave major scale (technically E phrygian, a C major scale mode). 

The scale patterns your teacher showed you are 3-note per string patterns. Why would you want to use these? Sometimes the 3-note per string patterns led themselves to certain techniques. I bet your teacher is into economy picking or legato and that is why he probably likes them. It is also easy to use math to develop sequences as there is the same amount of notes on each string. I tend to use them myself here and there. The only disadvantage is that, as you said, have to remember seven pattens which might seem like a chore at first. 

These patterns are fun to use for making phrases using math because there are three notes on each and every string. Try playing a 1-3-2 (C-E-D) pattern first. Do so only picking the first note and hammering and pulling the next two (using you pinky on the 12th fret and middle finger on the 10th). Then move the sequence to the next string. 


How about a 3-1-2 pattern or a 2-3-1 pattern (or even four note patters such as 1-3-1-2 or 3-1-3-2, etc.). 

Most people never though about it but you can play 2-note per string major scale patterns as well. Why would you want to do that? Well, it would simply lead to unexpected phrasing that might be difficult using a standard pattern.

What about a 4-note per string pattern? Sure, why not. You could slide or even use all four fingers on your left hand if you are a badass. You can cover a lot of distance with one of these.

Eventually you want to be able to see the whole fretboard though. 

More on scale patterns here >>>

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