In the first part on practicing
we learned a step by step process for developing our speed and
timing using a metronome. This process should be followed throughout
the coming lessons.
We started with the 1st position box
pattern of the scale (I provide these patterns in the scale lessons on
this site). Once you're confident with navigating these basic patterns
at various tempos, it's time to expand out of the "starting box" and
incorporate wider scale movements in your scale practice.
is important for further developing your finger dexterity and freeing
up your soloing so you can play fluidly and
confidently across the
entire fretboard. You will be amazed at how quickly your
improvisation skills develop if you follow this process.
guitar scales using 3 notes per string
Most 1st position patterns consist of a mix of 3 note and 2 note
strings. For example, take the Lydian scale...
we're going to play 3 notes on all 6 strings, which will give our
fingers more of a stretch.
note per string patterns can be formed by linking together/overlapping
from 2 or 3 scale
positions. I cover scale positions in their
lessons, but using Lydian as an example again, we could use the
following 3 notes per string pattern from its first 3 positions
greyed out dots are the unused parts of these patterns in this example).
you can see, we're now spanning a wider fretboard area, moving up into
new territory. This pattern requires more of a stretch for your fingers
provide you with some good exercises when practicing guitar scales,
following the same metronome
process outlined in part 1.
So, try navigating the 3 notes per string
pattern using quarter notes, then 8th notes and finally 16th notes,
metronome gradually as outlined in the first part.
probably find these wider scale patterns more challenging to move
around at higher speeds, but hopefully you'll notice more kinetic
phrases jumping out of them. For example, we could incorporate string
skipping to this pattern in exactly the same way we did with the boxed
pattern in part 1 (we're in the key of A)...
Your fingering might change slightly as your movements get more
complex. I've used a suggested
fingering as a guide for that particular exercise.
Remember, you can
link/overlap any 2 or 3 scale position patterns to create 3 notes per
I've linked up Lydian's 3rd,
4th and 5th position patterns to create a
pattern from which we could draw a 3 note per string pattern.
See if you can create a 3 note per string pattern starting at that 3rd
So what is
the benefit of practicing guitar scales using wider patterns?
They encourage more fluid movements, such as
slides and legato playing (e.g. hammer ons, pull offs) across wider
intervals, creating more dynamic solos. Rather than restricting
yourself to the same 4/5 fret box, you're giving your fingers more
freedom to roam and really explore the scale's tonality.
Let's take this concept a step further...
scales using even more of the fretboard
Using the same concept of combining patterns from multiple scale
positions, we can create larger patterns to free up our scale
movements even more.
Here I take the 1st,
2nd and 3rd positions of Lydian...
Obviously we can no longer simply assign each of our fingers to a fret
like with the boxed patterns
- we'll have to move our fret hand position up and down with the
Try moving your hand position around the pattern and create your own
exercises. One technique you can use to help merge these scale
positions into one large pattern is to slide
between them. Another is
legato techniques such as hammer ons and pull offs. These
covered in the lead section. However, just alternate picking every note
is perfectly fine for practicing guitar scales now.
Like before, start at 80
BPM on the metronome and speed up
gradually using quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes.
Use as much of the pattern as you can. Mix 3 notes per string with more
confined "inside the box" movements. We're just getting used to the
physical side of things at the moment. You'll naturally start seeking
out musical scale phrases as your knowledge of the scale develops.
The key thing is to make sure you're constantly challenging yourself
with wider movements and quicker tempos. But as we learned in part 1,
don't jump ahead of yourself. Only push the metronome when you're
comfortable with the current tempo.
want a break from the
metronome, try playing the Lydian pattern
above over the backing track below. We're in the key of A, so that
means the 1st position root (E string, 5th fret) will
be the note A and
the pattern continues from that point.
Obviously you'll want to be able to solo confidently higher up the
fretboard. The frets are narrower, meaning you can play even wider
intervals per string without changing fret hand position.
Let's use the the same process of combining scale positions, but this
time higher up the fretboard (we're still in the key of A)...
A really good exercise for this position is to use your index (1st) and
pinky (4th) fingers in 6, or even 7 fret movements as part of a larger
scale phrase, like in the following example...
Again, I've provided the suggested
with the option of the 3rd or 4th finger on a couple of notes - find
which one is most comfortable for you. Because the fret spacings are
narrower higher up the fretboard, many players like to use their 3rd
finger in places where their 4th finger would usually be positioned at
practicing guitar scales
outside the box...
So, we're no longer constrained to playing in small boxes. Our fingers
moving free and wide, creating more interesting, dynamic movements.
Obviously we've only been using Lydian in the lesson examples, but the
and overall concept is exactly
the same no matter which scale you're
mastering. Scale positions and patterns are provided in the
scales section, so it's just a case of creating larger patterns from
these positions, creating your own exercises and
challenging yourself using the metronome.
As you do this, your knowledge of the scale's harmonic qualities will
naturally develop at the same time.