Tag Archives: scale positions guitar

Practicing Scales – This Is Something Not To Miss

The way most of us were taught scales and practice scales is centered around positions. That is a good approach and you should work on knowing all the positions, but it is certainly not the only thing to check out.

In this lesson, I am going to show you some examples of things that sound great, are easy to play and are not in positions, and then also talk about how you practice towards playing like that.

Triads on a String Set

This is an example of something that clearly is pretty easy to play when you stick to the same string set. This type of melody is also something that is very repetitive and a specific sound, but later in the lesson, I will show you some other more open examples of this.

If you look at the advantages you can see that:

  • The Right Hand is consistent
  • Phrasing and the Polyrhythm is easy to bring out
  • It is using the same type of melody: Triads

Fake Metal version

Let’s first look at how this doesn’t work in a position and then I will also talk a little bit about how this should combine with positions and isn’t really instead of.

You can play this in a position as well, that would be something like this:

But here it is a lot less natural to get the consistent phrasing and just difficult to play. And this is a really clear example of something that works a lot better along the neck.

Positions – The Final Frontier

If you play a phrase like this then there is one thing that you do need to be aware of is that you have to be able to keep playing where you end up.

Even though it is cool for Star Trek (0:46) B-Roll To boldly go where no-one has gone before it is not practical for guitar solos if you end up in a place where you don’t know what to play.

So you do want to know your positions and have that overview of the neck as well.

Practicing Efficient Things

So what do you practice to play something like the first example (B-roll of Example 1a maybe slow mo?)

It is not enough to just work on the scale on one string like this:

But as you can see the example is made from diatonic triads from 2 scales: G major and D altered.

So you can practice those like this:

and the altered scale is also really useful, like this:

For these exercises, I am really consistent with my right hand, and as you will see that is one of the big benefits of playing like this: It gets easy and consistent for the right hand.

Besides playing the arpeggios you also get to dive into the diatonic harmony of the scales which is really useful for having more things you can use in solos

And once you know the exercises then it becomes a lot easier to work on other similar licks like this one:

Besides the triads, there is another similar type of melody which is 10 times as easy to play if you give the right-hand priority I will get to that later but first let’s look at another way where moving around the neck gives you more options when it comes to creating strong melodies.

Motivic Shifting

This phrase is on a Dm7 Bb7 Cmaj7, so Subdominant, minor subdominant, tonic in C major.


 

The melody is a motif on the Dm7 and the motif is repeated and developed on the Bb7 to then resolve to C. Using that you can have a Dm melody and an Fm melody on the Bb7.

Because the phrase is shifting the motif up the neck then it is easy to keep the phrasing and in that way make the motivic development clearer while still changing things and adding to it. If you played it in one position then you would lose some of the phrasings and also make it much more complicated to move the motif.

 

Strict Arpeggio Tricks

Another place where you can benefit from having using a specific way to play arpeggios and move around the neck is to stick with a pattern similar to what I am doing in this example:

Here the Cmaj7 and Am7 arpeggios are played as 1-1-2 arpeggios which makes it easy to put them after each other.

1-1-2 Arpeggios are arpeggios with the four notes spread out so that the first two strings have 1 note and the last string has 2 notes.

To explore stuff like this it can be really useful to practice your arpeggios in diatonic 3rd distance like this

 

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3 Things You Want To Know In All Keys And Positions

When you play jazz you are improvising over chord progressions that move through different scales. And you need scale positions that you can connect and have an overview off in a way that makes it easy to improvise solos.

In this video, I am going to go over a basic way to practice and test your fretboard knowledge by taking progressions and use them to work on scale positions on the guitar neck. This will help you memorize the right information in the right context for when you want to improvise solos and will help you become freer when you play.

The 3 Levels

I am going to go over the exercises in 3 levels getting more and more difficult, but the exercises are essentially quite basic. This is about knowing essential chord progressions, scales, and arpeggios in a position and being able to improvise with them.

Working on this is not really something that belongs to every day practice for hours and hours, just go check this and find ways to work on this that also involve the repertoire you play.

2 Approaches

When you work on this type of exercise you can do this 2 ways: Staying in one position and going through all keys or choosing one key and going through all positions. Both are useful and you should try what works better for you.

Level 1 – 1 Position, Basic Scale and Chords

The idea is to work on knowing essential material for a position. If you improvise in G major, then the G major scale and the arpeggios for the basic cadence are essential to know. The same goes for the arpeggio from the 3rd of these chords.

For G major we have this scale position:

And the basic cadence is Am7 D7 Gmaj7.

These arpeggios are shown below:

And the arepggios from the 3rds of these chords would be

Am7: Cmaj7, D7: F#ø, Gmaj7 Bm7.

Once you know these arpeggios you should work on being able to make lines with them in this position on a II V I.

Two examples of this, one with the basic arps and one with the arpeggio from the 3rd are shown below:

Level 2 – Altered Dominant

A logical next step would be to alter the dominant, in this case D7.

Let’s first take a new position for G major:

And for the D7alt I am using an Ab7 and a Cø arpeggio.

Both are found in the D7 altered scale and contain the C and the F# really spelling out the D7 sound.

And the arpeggios from the 3rd (with Cø being the arpeggio from the 3rd of Ab7)

Improvising with these arpeggio sets could yield lines like these two:

Level 3 – Making it a complete Turnaround

The next thing to do is to add a secondary dominant for the II chord. This is one of the most common dominants to come across so it makes perfect sense to add this to the exercse.

First a new scale position:

For the E7alt I am doing the same thing as the D7alt which gives us a Bb7 and a Dø arpeggio.

And then the basic arpeggio positions:

The Arpeggio from the 3rd:

Get Your Changes Playing from Turnarounds to Giant Steps.

If you want to check out some more material on how to really nail changes and still play great lines then check out this lesson on using Target notes on Rhythm Changes:

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Scale Positions for Guitar – The 3 most Important Systems

Scale Positions are often a topic for heated discussion and are of course also an important system for understanding the guitar in the context of the music we play. This video goes over 3 systems for scale fingerings I talk about how they are constructed and work. I also discuss some of the things they do well and some things they do less well.

To also explain why I think the way I do about scale positions I also talk about my own learning path when it comes to scale fingering systems. Hopefully this will also give you some insight in why I think the way I do about the different systems.

You can download an overview of the scales here:

7 Positions – Overview

Table of Contents

0:00 Intro and Internet Drama

1:05 Who needs scales anyway?

1:25 My Home Made Blues Scale Position

2:10 Learning Improvisation and 5 Scale Positions

2:38 Needing a System and Finding one

3:40 #1 – 7 Position System

5:30 Conservatory Technique and not learning 3NPS

5:52 Learning to play fast with John Petrucci

6:48 #2 – 3NPS (3 Notes Per String)

8:12 How I know the CAGED SYSTEM

8:40 #3 The CAGED System

9:48 Comparing the systems

10:22 The 7 Position systems and a few issues

10:42 Stretches and Position Shifts

12:10 Hidden Stretches in The CAGED system

13:11 The CAGED Scales and The Basic Chords & Arpeggios

14:02 What System do you use? Did I get something wrong?

14:21 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

You can of course also check out some of my other videos on Scale Positions and Fretboard knowledge:

Major scale – 7 positions – Berklee

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