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How to Get More Mileage Out of Your Scales

How to Get More Mileage Out of Your Scales

If you've become comfortable with my previous lesson, "Diatonic Scale Workout: Increase Picking Strength and Produce Great-Sounding Sequences," and feel like you have all seven three-note-per-string positions under your fingers, we'll take it a step further. Here are some interesting but simple single-string three-note patterns you can apply to those same sequences.

Instead of linear lines where the melodies are either ascending or descending, these little nuggets will give you more mileage out of your scales while giving your playing some interesting variations and patterns you can mix and match, while navigating the neck.

EXAMPLE 1. Using the A major three-notes-per-string scale as our template, we will use a simple three note pattern on the low E string: A - C# - B. I like to think of the pattern as: Low Note - High Note - Middle Note. I then take this simple three note pattern across all six strings. While you can play this example as triplets, I prefer how it sounds as even 8th or 16th notes. Start slowly, playing this pattern ascending and descending the A major scale. Once this is comfortable, apply it to the other six positions.

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EXAMPLE 2. Using the same A major scale at the fifth fret, we turn the previous example's pattern around: High Note - Low Note - Middle Note. Again, apply this simple three-note pattern across all six strings of the A major scale, ascending and descending. When you get this comfortable, apply it to the other six positions.

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EXAMPLE 3. Taking this one string pattern idea a step further, we will now try a four pattern using the three notes of each string. This pattern on the low E string is: C# - B - A - B, or, as I like to think of it: High Note - Middle Note - Low Note - Middle Note. Being an even amount of notes on each string, this pattern is a little easier to alternate pick.

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EXAMPLE 4. Our last example is a the reverse of the previous pattern: A - B - C# - B; ie.: Low Note - Middle Note - High Note - Middle Note. Just like before, apply this pattern to all six strings of the A major scale, and then the other six positions of the three-note-per-string major scale.

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Guitarist Adrian Galysh is a solo artist and education coordinator for Guitar Center Studios. He's the author of the book Progressive Guitar Warmups and Exercises. For more information, visit him at AdrianGalysh.com.

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