In the first guitar
scale exercises lesson, we looked at runs - linear, repeating
ascending/descending note patterns that sound great as soloing
flourishes and that you can apply to any scale you might learn.
The aim of this series is to get all your fingers moving in every
possible way around a scale, so you'll be ready for any movement a
scale pattern might throw at you. Some movements from one note to the
will be more awkward than others, and this lesson should prove
challenging as far as developing your finger dexterity.
But the rewards will be immeasurable! Persevere and spend at least 10
minutes a day on each exercise in this lesson (one
exercise per day), using a metronome
to speed up gradually.
Your speed and timing will improve quicker than you might think.
Scale exercises set #2 - Vertical Movements
What do I mean by "vertical movements"? This is a very specific
movement you'll be required to make, especially when navigating closed
It involves moving from one string to the next on the same fret.
here we have to move down from either the G to D string or up from the
D to G string on the same fret.
This kind of vertical movement appears on every string in pretty much
every scale pattern.
I'm just going to use the major scale as an example here, but you will
find yourself using these movements in every scale you learn.
This is just about getting physically used to awkward movements.
Playing vertically also gives your phrasing a new direction (rather
than simply playing in a linear, horizontal fashion).
Within this pattern we can see several possible vertical movements,
in the animation below...
Now, there are many possible situations in which you'll be
negotiating two consecutive notes in this way, but there are two ways of playing
them, depending on where your fingers fall in that particular part of
the scale pattern.
to use one finger per note/string as usual. For example, we might
use the following fingers, remembering to cleanly separate each note
(the alternative is to play them together, which is known as a double
We're in the key of B for these exercises, but you can move these
patterns to any fret depending on the key in which you're playing.
Suggested fingering in blue.
Play them in a repeating sequence (i.e. the last note leads straight
back to the first).
print sheet for this lesson - includes tabs for all 11
exercises to read away from your computer/device. Download Here (PDF)
Now we're using our 1st and 2nd fingers in a vertical movement (the
opening two notes)...
And finally the 3rd and 4th fingers in vertical movements...
The art of rolling
mentioned earlier, there is a second way of playing two vertical notes
like this. It's a more economical way of playing such notes, because
instead of using two fingers (one for each string/note), we only need one finger for both notes.
How? By using a technique called rolling.
We literally roll the finger back or forward to fret the note below or
above the preceding note on the same fret.
similar to a barre you might use when playing chords or double stops,
but as the photos below show, instead of barring flat across the two
notes, we only apply pressure to one string at a time in order to
separate the notes. For example, if we were moving from
to B string on the same fret, here's how it should be played...
On the G
Start by fretting the lower string as usual, with the lower tip of the
On the B
The finger collapses or "rolls" back to a flatter position, fretting
the string above.
this is the technique used when sweep picking arpeggios - it allows you
to play two, even three vertical notes in quick succession.
It will take time and
patience to master this technique, but keep at it, trying very subtle
changes in your finger position on the string when rolling back.
Eventually you'll be able to do it without thinking about it - just
like you did with those first few chords.
Let's start with two notes within regular scale phrases, using the
index/1st finger as our rolling finger...
The grey box around the blue finger
indicates where the 1st finger roll occurs.
time we're rolling down from the D to A string. Same as before, but we
just reverse the rolling action. So we start with a "rolled back"
finger on the higher (D) string and move into the more upright, finger
tip position on the lower (A) string. Again, it'll take time to perfect
the action, and everyone's fingers are different so use trial and error
to find the most comfortable and effective positioning.
Rolling the 2nd finger...
Rolling the 3rd finger...
And finally, a 4th finger roll. Keep a close eye on that 4th finger
action. Start slow and make sure the two notes are separated...
Hopefully, after a few weeks of using exercises like those in this
lesson, you'll start to use rolling as a way of keeping your finger
movements more economical, which although subtle at slower speeds, will
really help you negotiate vertical movements at higher tempos.
I hope you also experiment with mixing vertical movements with more
linear runs, like those in the first part, to create more dynamic scale
But we're not done yet! The next part will introduce yet another fluid
and musical way of navigating scales.