These are the basic scale patterns in the open string position which will very quickly become the building blocks for your improvised solos in all major and minor keys. If you click on the image below you will be able to see it more clearly.
The bottom (lowest note) E string is to the left of each box with the nut at the top. Start each scale from the lowest root note then play each note ascending (going up) and descending (coming down) with the top (highest) note being played just once. So for C ~ C D E F G A B C B A G F E D C ~ easy eh?!
Learn theses patterns by playing them over and over again until they can be played without thinking too much – at that point you might have a bit of spare brain capacity for creating beautiful guitar solos!! Your brain is a lot like your computer when it hasn’t got quite enough RAM (memory) to run that new programme you have just downloaded – it slows down, gets overloaded and sometimes crashes!!! When you learn all these scales off by heart you will literally be able to play them without thinking about them ~ you will then have the spare brain capacity to listen to what is happening musically around you and be creative with your new scale patterns.
Repetition is also good to develop strength, independence and fluency of your left hand and also will help with co-ordination with your right hand picking technique (apologies to all left handed players – I am thinking about you!). Your poor old (young) brain is having to work hard here too learning complex new fine movements for your hands and fingers which are not normally required in everyday life.
The first 2 scales on this worksheet are C Major and C Major Pentatonic. Pentatonic means literally 5 notes (C D E G A in the key of C). Learn both scales off by heart. You will find pentatonics (Major and minor) will be very useful to start you of with improvised solos as they don’t sound like you are simply running up and down scales which can be the case with full Major and natural minor scales.
There are many things wonderful about the guitar, but one of them relates to visual patterns of notes on the fretboard. Every Major scale has a relative minor which starts from 3 semitones down from the route of the major. The relative minor for C is A. The great thing is that when you identify this starting point for the Natural minor scale you simply play the same notes as the Major scale. It sounds completely different but uses the same notes just from a different starting point – look at the patterns above. Try playing around with the C Major scales against a C Major chord, then do the same with an A Natural minor scale against an A minor chord – same notes but a completely different sound and mood.
The blues scale takes the minor Pentatonic scale and adds the flattened 5th note of the scale which is Eb in the case of a Natural Minor. As you will discover there is a lot more to playing the blues than just adding this one extra note, but it will start you off on understanding the sounds of the blues.
The other patterns above are for G Major and it’s relative minor ~ E Natural Minor.
Study the patterns again and you will see that C Major / A Minor and G Major / E Minor follow the same patterns of notes – just from a different starting point.
For now just play all of these over and over again until they become second nature. I promise you will not be disappointed with the results as you quickly start to create your own improvised solos and as we start to look at some of your favourite guitar solos you will find that they use these patterns rather a lot.
You will have also noticed by now that I have presented the patterns by using letters for each note. Hopefully this will help you to remember the names of each note.
This might all seem like a lot of hard work at this stage – but trust me you will see the benefits soon.
Work hard, take plenty of breaks to give your brain chance to catch up (believe me it will be working overtime to try and figure all this out whilst you are doing something completely different!) and you’ll soon be making that guitar sing.