This lesson follows on logically from the major
scale positions lesson, which gave us the patterns we needed
to visualise the major scale across the entire fretboard, in simple
This lesson is about merging these position patterns together, to help
us expand out of "box think" and allow us to play across as many as
twelve frets in the same
run/phrase. In other words, this lesson will show you a
number of ways to play through
the positions more fluidly, rather than breaking up the fretboard into
small segments all the time.
But remember, it's not
soloing. These patterns also allow you to see
blocks of major scale harmony (e.g. chord shapes) that you can use
to embelish major key songs.
the chord tracks below to help you practice moving through
the patterns in different keys...
With the position patterns, many of the strings only used two notes and
we were confined to a small area of the fretboard. By merging these
positions, however, we can create 3 notes per string patterns and play
quickly and economically across a wider area of the fretboard.
The below "poster chart" shows you how we can merge our scale positions
into seven 3 notes per
(click to enlarge)...
Even larger patterns
Continuing the process of merging patterns, we can link together
several 3 note per string patterns to cover even larger areas of the
When learning these patterns, pay special attention to the root note
positions. This will help you locate the pattern in any
key. For example, if you wanted to play C# major, the 1
note in all these patterns would be positioned on C#.
This pattern spans 12 frets and three octaves (for example if you just
played the root/1 notes, you'd be playing through 3 octaves of that
note). As you can see, we've merged the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th position 3nps patterns.
Basically, we're using the 1st, 2nd and 4th fingers to play 3 note
For example, in G major, we might play the following pattern (divide it
into 3 notes and 3 fingers - 1st,
Try moving down
the pattern as well. A great little exercise, both physically and
We'll look at some more exercises that use these patterns in another
lesson, but for now, try moving through the pattern in different ways.
No rules, just explore the pattern freely in a number of different keys.
The aim at this stage is to memorise the pattern and get it under your
Now, we can use exactly the same "positions" method with building these
larger, 3 octave patterns. For example, starting from the 3rd
position and merging proceeding positions...
Remember, keep a close eye on those root notes
- they will help you find your bearings within these larger patterns.
For example, with the above pattern, if you found the root on the A
string, you'd be able to visualise the pattern from that position (if
you've memorised it!).
See if you can build your own patterns by merging 3 note per string
patterns, starting on different positions. The more ways in which you
can test your knowledge of the major scale's intervals like this, the
deeper it will be internalised.
Merging major scale patterns further
By combining scale positions, 3 notes per string and the wider
patterns, we have countless ways to navigate through the scale.
Again, the more combinations you play around with, the deeper this
scale will become engrained in you mind. Then you'll have the roadmap
for unrestricted, fluid soloing.
Take a look at the below pattern. Here I've merged 3 notes per string
through the 3rd position box pattern and then continuing with 3nps on
the B and e strings.
Eventually, you won't think in terms of breaking patterns down in such
a calculated way - you'll start to move through it more spontaneously,
and then, when you know it well enough, intuitively.
Think of all this like a cab driver might learn the streets of a city.
Eventually s/he knows the roadmap so well that s/he could take any
number of routes to a given destination. When playing a scale, your
"destination" is your next target
note, and that's something we'll cover in future lessons.
This is the crucial groundwork for that.