The guitar interval exercises in this lesson will combine elements
we've learned so far in the guitar
series, so you might want to take the below lessons first (although you
will naturally pick up these techniques as you work
through this page)...
This lesson is all about moving through scales in a series of repeating
intervals, often called intervallic playing. Not only is this a
naturally musical way to navigate scales, but it's also great for
testing and improving your fret and pick hand co-ordination. It'll also
cement any scale pattern in your mind as you'll be dissecting it in
bigger picture for all this is to combine the different ways of
navigating scales through the exercises we've looked at to make your
soloing free flowing and fluid.
Scales are built
from a series of intervals - the spaces between each note. We can take
any scale pattern we know, choose an interval (e.g. 3rd, 4th, 5th etc.)
and then play that interval on each note of the scale.
For example, take the major scale in its first position (although this
technique works for any "box" pattern)...
of seeing the scale as a straight sequence from note 1 through 7, we
can break it down into major 3rd and minor 3rd intervals, depending on
which note in the scale we start from.
Start with the root (1)
note, skip over the 2
note immediately after it, and we have our first major 3rd interval as
Next, from the 2nd note in the scale, we can again skip the next note
and play a minor
3rd interval to the 4th note.
From the 3rd note in the scale we can play another minor 3rd interval
to the 5th note
all we're doing is playing from each note to the next in pairings of
either a major or minor 3rd interval.
Here's how the full exercise would play out with the root on A
(suggested fingering in blue)...
Break the sequence down. Start with the E and A strings and repeat the
sequence on just those strings. Then gradually add the other strings to
the sequence one by one until you have the full pattern nailed.
that we probably wouldn't use an entire sequence like this in a solo.
What's more likely is that we'll play short bursts of these sequences
mixed with other phrasing techniques. However, being able to play a
scale from bottom to top (and vice versa) like this is a good general
Once you have the sequence under your fingers, try playing it on
different roots, at different positions on the fretboard.
Working down the pattern...
We can also move in larger intervals, such as 6ths...
These would sound great as a sequence of double
stops. That's where we play the two strings together instead of
one after the other.
don't forget octaves. This exercise will help you memorise octaves
across multiple strings, again using the major scale as our reference...
a moment, I'll show you how to make these guitar interval exercises
sound more musical by combining them with other movements.
Let's take a wider major scale pattern, using three notes per string
and go back to moving in 3rds...
wider patterns also allow us to use descending interval patterns like
the following (note, this exercise makes use of vertical "rolls", a
technique covered in a previous
lesson). This time, we're moving down a 3rd interval
from each note...
Let's now try the same sequence using a different scale - harmonic
Again, we'll start by moving in 3rds. The fingering is a little
trickier for this pattern, but as before I've included the suggested
again, depending on the position of the next note in the sequence,
we're moving in minor or major 3rd intervals, from each note in the
other interval movements like we did with the major scale. This is a
great way to cement knowledge of any scale pattern in your mind.
Composite guitar interval exercises
We can make these intervallic movements sound more musical (and the
exercises more challenging) by adding in other notes.
example, we could move in 3rds like before, but this time add in an
extra note. Here I'm playing a 5th interval before each 3rd interval.
Essentially, that means we're playing a triad (whether major or minor)
arpeggio for each note in the scale. Difficult to explain, so work
through the tab
below for a better idea.
We could add in another note, giving us more of a run type pattern, but
still keeping those repeating 3rd intervals throughout the sequence. In
the below example, we play a 5th interval and then descend down to the
next note in the sequence...
Try combining the exercises we've looked at in this lesson with other
scale navigation and phrasing methods.