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Thread: Scale question, please help!

  1. #1
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    Scale question, please help!

    Hey everyone, I'm not exactly new here it's just been a while since I last logged in and couldn't remember my old username and password, I tried to recover them but I could get past the security question "What note follows G in traditional music theory"...I thought it was G# but I guess I was wrong lol...however on to my question.

    Ok I'm trying to nail down scales on guitar and I found a really helpful website called streetmusician. In summation it says to learn the pure or natural minor scale positions and from that you automatically learn the majors through their relative scale. Here's my question...he teaches that it's better to play 7 position scales (7 frets) rather than 5 position (5 frets), however when I watch most videos of guitarists they are moving up and down the fretboard in 5 position sections. It seems as though with 7 positions there's less to remember and they overlap each other nicely, however with 5 positions there's speed and better maneuverability.

    What's best for me to start off with? I would really like to know because over the next few months I will be taking allot of time and effort committing these to memory, I just want to make sure I'm getting the right start. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    OK there are all kind of patterns and yes you can take a scale up the neck into seven different places. Two of those positions overlap and we that use five positions have decided enough is enough - five works for me.

    Your instrument is a three octave instrument, no matter what you do three octaves is all you are going to get. If you want you can get two of those octaves in a relatively short portion of your fretboard, if you want the third just go up the neck on the 1st string. But, if you want to impress people take all that into seven locations and speed up and down your neck like the guitar god you are....... LOL
    Code:
    Major Scale Box Pattern
    
    E|---7---|--R(8)-|-------|---2---| 1st string
    B|-------|---5---|-------|---6---|
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 
    D|---6---|-------|---7---|--R(8)-|
    A|---3---|---4---|-------|---5---|
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---| 6th string

    Again there are all kind of patterns and placements of those patterns, learn the ones that make since to you and move on. There is more to playing this beast than running a scale up the neck in seven positions.

    Following the dots made no since to me,

    however, when I let the dots be scale degrees everything jelled. Don't let this confuse you, if you can use some of it, help yourself.

    Scales
    Major Scale = R-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 and take it on up.
    Major Pentatonic = R-2-3-5-6 leave out the 4 & 7 and yes move it into the higher strings.
    Natural Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 Major scale with a flat 3, 6 & 7 Now that made since.
    Minor Pentatonic = R-b3-4-5-b7 Natural minor scale with out the 2 & 6
    Blues = R-b3-4-b5-5-b7 Minor pentatonic with the blue note (b5) added
    Harmonic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-7 Natural minor scale with a natural 7
    Melodic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-6-7 Major scale with a b3.

    Major modes
    Ionian same as the Major Scale.
    Lydian use the major scale and sharp the 4 - yes, it’s that simple.
    Mixolydian use the major scale and flat the 7.

    Minor Modes
    Aeolian same as the Natural Minor scale.
    Dorian use the Natural Minor scale and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6.
    Phrygian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2.
    Locrian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2 and the 5.


    Good luck.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 07-20-2012 at 10:47 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    OK there are all kind of patterns and yes you can take a scale up the neck into seven different places. Two of those positions overlap and we that use five positions have decided enough is enough - five works for me.

    Your instrument is a three octave instrument, no matter what you do three octaves is all you are going to get. If you want you can get two of those octaves in a relatively short portion of your fretboard, if you want the third just go up the neck on the 1st string. But, if you want to impress people take all that into seven locations and speed up and down your neck like the guitar god you are....... LOL
    Code:
    Major Scale Box Pattern
    
    E|---7---|--R(8)-|-------|---2---| 1st string
    B|-------|---5---|-------|---6---|
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 
    D|---6---|-------|---7---|--R(8)-|
    A|---3---|---4---|-------|---5---|
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---| 6th string
    Again there are all kind of patterns and placements of those patterns, learn the ones that make since to you and move on. There is more to playing this beast than running a scale up the neck in seven positions.

    Following the dots made no since to me,

    however, when I let the dots be scale degrees everything jelled. Don't let this confuse you, if you can use some of it, help yourself.

    Scales
    Major Scale = R-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 and take it on up.
    Major Pentatonic = R-2-3-5-6 leave out the 4 & 7 and yes move it into the higher strings.
    Natural Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 Major scale with a flat 3, 6 & 7 Now that made since.
    Minor Pentatonic = R-b3-4-5-b7 Natural minor scale with out the 2 & 6
    Blues = R-b3-4-b5-5-b7 Minor pentatonic with the blue note (b5) added
    Harmonic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-7 Natural minor scale with a natural 7
    Melodic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-6-7 Major scale with a b3.

    Major modes
    Ionian same as the Major Scale.
    Lydian use the major scale and sharp the 4 - yes, it’s that simple.
    Mixolydian use the major scale and flat the 7.

    Minor Modes
    Aeolian same as the Natural Minor scale.
    Dorian use the Natural Minor scale and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6.
    Phrygian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2.
    Locrian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2 and the 5.


    Good luck.
    Thanks for the help! After I read just a few sentences into your reply I realized that I must've misunderstood the article I've been reading completely. When I read 5/7 scale positions I thought that meant how many frets each section (or octave I suppose) is spanning. I'm guessing however from what you said that it actually means 5 positions or 7 positions of the guitar neck to complete 2 or 3 octaves of a particular scale. Sorry if I'm way off base I'm still very new to this.

    I'm trying to remember the notes in the scale and what notes I'm actually plucking so I can learn the guitar neck, but from what I understand the most important thing is to know is the root so it can be moved around on the neck to play in different keys right? Hope I'm doing this right lol.

    Here's the article I'm referring too btw..
    http://www.streetmusician.co.uk/scales/


    edit: you also said that my instrument is only capable of 3 octaves but how can that be true when say for instance the scale of G minor, just in one section that's an octave, and there's seven different sections I can play up and down the neck, wouldn't that mean 7 octaves would be possible, or maybe more? For example the major scale box pattern you posted contains two octaves and that's just within four frets of the neck?!?
    Last edited by Idontknow; 07-21-2012 at 12:42 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idontknow View Post
    you also said that my instrument is only capable of 3 octaves but how can that be true
    Your lowest note is obviously the open low E string.

    The E note on the 2nd fret of the D string is one octave higher than that.

    The open high E string is one octave higher than that.

    The 12th fret of the high E string is one octave higher than that.

    So, from the low open E to the 12th fret of the high E is a 3 octave range.

    Depending on your guitar, you will have some number of playable notes above that - on a non-cutaway, 12-frets-to the body acoustic not many; on a 24-fret electric (or by bending on a 21- or 22- fret) another full octave for a total of a 4 octave range.
    Last edited by walternewton; 07-21-2012 at 12:53 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    Your lowest note is obviously the open low E string.

    The E note on the 2nd fret of the D string is one octave higher than that.

    The open high E string is one octave higher than that.

    The 12th fret of the high E string is one octave higher than that.

    So, from the low open E to the 12th fret of the high E is a 3 octave range.

    Depending on your guitar, you will have some number of playable notes above that - on a non-cutaway, 12-frets-to the body acoustic not many; on a 24-fret electric (or by bending on a 21- or 22- fret) another full octave for a total of a 4 octave range.
    Ok that makes sense. So my guitar is only capable of 3 octaves if you mean from the absolutely lowest to highest or vice versa, however there are many many more octaves in between that range right? What about the B string fifth fret, and the A string 7th fret, and the G string 9th fret and so on and so forth, they are all octaves of E...correct?

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    Right, from the lowest note you can play to the highest is a total 3-4 octave range (Malcolm's original point) - but you are correct that there are many places on the neck in which you can play 2 notes that are an interval of an octave apart.
    Last edited by walternewton; 07-21-2012 at 05:00 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    Right, from the lowest note you can play to the highest is a total 3-4 octave range (Malcolm's original point) - but you are correct that there are many places on the neck in which you can play 2 notes that are an interval of an octave apart.
    Gotcha

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    Quote Originally Posted by Idontknow View Post
    Thanks for the help! After I read just a few sentences into your reply I realized that I must've misunderstood the article I've been reading completely. When I read 5/7 scale positions I thought that meant how many frets each section (or octave I suppose) is spanning. I'm guessing however from what you said that it actually means 5 positions or 7 positions of the guitar neck to complete 2 or 3 octaves of a particular scale. Sorry if I'm way off base I'm still very new to this.
    I think what you are talking about (ie what you are getting from that website) is the fact that traditionally most guitarists learned scales patterns called "2-notes per string" (ie "2nps"). Those are scale patterns on which some strings have only two notes, and the other strings have three notes which are separated by a whole step plus a half step.

    Those are the scale patterns that you see in most of the traditional guitar books. And if you play the scales like that, then you end up with just 5 different patterns.

    However, there is another way to play those same scales, and that is a way called "3-notes per string" (ie "3nps") which became popular with shred players like Paul Gilbert. With 3nps patterns most of the strings will have 3 notes each separated by a whole step. If you work out the different patterns like that with 3-notes per string, then you end up with 7 different scale patterns (instead of just 5 patterns).

    Those two different methods, ie 2nps or 3nps, are really just exactly the same sets of notes, but arranged in a slightly different way on each string. So it's up to you whether you find it easier to remember 5 patterns with 2nps, or to remember 7 different patterns with 3nps.

    Obviously it would seem far easier to remember just 5 patterns. Though the advantage of using 3nps is that it can make it easier to play very fast runs using what are called "scale sequences" (again, shred players often play licks using "scale sequences").

    To put all that more simply - personally I much prefer 2nps and just 5 different patterns. For me that's far easier to remember, and it's also more common to see that in most guitar books (less common to see patterns of 3nps).

    Some of the better books, such as Guthrie Govan’s two books “Creative Guitar vol-1 and vol-2", show full sets of diagrams for both 2nps and 3nps.
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossroads View Post
    I think what you are talking about (ie what you are getting from that website) is the fact that traditionally most guitarists learned scales patterns called "2-notes per string" (ie "2nps"). Those are scale patterns on which some strings have only two notes, and the other strings have three notes which are separated by a whole step plus a half step.

    Those are the scale patterns that you see in most of the traditional guitar books. And if you play the scales like that, then you end up with just 5 different patterns.

    However, there is another way to play those same scales, and that is a way called "3-notes per string" (ie "3nps") which became popular with shred players like Paul Gilbert. With 3nps patterns most of the strings will have 3 notes each separated by a whole step. If you work out the different patterns like that with 3-notes per string, then you end up with 7 different scale patterns (instead of just 5 patterns).

    Those two different methods, ie 2nps or 3nps, are really just exactly the same sets of notes, but arranged in a slightly different way on each string. So it's up to you whether you find it easier to remember 5 patterns with 2nps, or to remember 7 different patterns with 3nps.

    Obviously it would seem far easier to remember just 5 patterns. Though the advantage of using 3nps is that it can make it easier to play very fast runs using what are called "scale sequences" (again, shred players often play licks using "scale sequences").

    To put all that more simply - personally I much prefer 2nps and just 5 different patterns. For me that's far easier to remember, and it's also more common to see that in most guitar books (less common to see patterns of 3nps).

    Some of the better books, such as Guthrie Govan’s two books “Creative Guitar vol-1 and vol-2", show full sets of diagrams for both 2nps and 3nps.
     
    Thanks for breaking that down for me. One thing I'm having a hard time understanding is why would 3nps have more positions compared to 2nps? 3nps uses a larger area on the neck which would lead me to believe it would take up more space on the neck meaning less positions, not more. Same with 2nps, the area to play only two notes per string would mean it should be tighter and have more positions to get down the neck. Is this because 3nps slightly overlap each other?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idontknow View Post
    Thanks for breaking that down for me. One thing I'm having a hard time understanding is why would 3nps have more positions compared to 2nps? 3nps uses a larger area on the neck which would lead me to believe it would take up more space on the neck meaning less positions, not more. Same with 2nps, the area to play only two notes per string would mean it should be tighter and have more positions to get down the neck. Is this because 3nps slightly overlap each other?
    7 patterns just overlap more than 5 patterns do.
    And 3nps patterns will overlap even more.
    Remember, the patterns are all fitting within one 12-fret range of the neck (after 12 frets everything repeats). And each pattern covers 3 or 4 frets at least. That's a lot of overlap even with just 5 patterns.

    The practical issues are:

    1. Any scale pattern is designed to allow you to play a scale across the strings without moving your hand up or down. As such, a full 7-note pattern (as opposed to a pentatonic) needs 3 notes on each string, except one string will only have 2 (usually 3rd string, sometimes 2nd). Each finger has its own fret, although in most patterns the index may need to move back a fret, or the pinky up a fret, on 1 or 2 strings.

    2. 3 nps patterns - with 3 notes on every string - require a small change in position on moving to the top 2 or 3 strings. This means the patterns are less "fixed", and enables smoother transitions between patterns.

    3. The system of 5 patterns is usually based on the "CAGED" system, where each pattern is built around a movable version of one of those open position major chord shapes. This is good because it maintains the essential connection between scale(s) and chord(s). (Although there can still be confusions about chord and scale names.)

    4. Systems of 7 patterns are based on the idea that every note of the scale can be the lowest or starting note of a pattern. This is a quite logical thought, but is often combined with mode names for the patterns - which is a seriously BAD thing. There is also less of a link with chord shapes.
    And as I say, 7 patterns overlap a hell of a lot, and some of them involve quite big stretches.

    The important thing with all of this is realise:

    (a) any one scale runs all over the neck, as one mega pattern. We only break it down into smaller patterns (covering 3 or 4 frets) to make it easy to play in chunks, with minimal hand movement - ie in different "positions".
    (b) You have to understand the links between scales, key and chords. This is crucial. Patterns are all very well - and the guitar fretboard practically demands we learn via patterns and shapes of various kinds - but without knowing the theoretical links, it's difficult if not impossible to apply the patterns correctly.
    You don't have to learn every note on every fret right away, but you need to understand scale degrees (starting from the "tonic") and chord tones (starting from the "root".
    Every scale pattern contains several chord shapes or arpeggios. Any note of the scale can be a chord root. But only two notes can be tonics: the keynote of the major or its relative minor key.
    Eg, in any pattern of the C major scale, C is the major key tonic, and A its relative minor tonic. (There will be 2 or 3 instances of each of these notes in every pattern.) But all 7 notes can be chord roots, and the scale contains arpeggios of each chord: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim.
    A really useful exercise is to take any pattern and try and work out all these notes and arpeggios. Sometimes you can visualise the arp as a familiar chord shape, but not always.
    NB: the lowest note of the pattern has no significance whatsoever. It is not the "root" of the pattern (if we define "root" correctly). It will be the root of one of the chords in the pattern; but that doesn't mean that chord is more important than the others.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    7 patterns just overlap more than 5 patterns do.
    And 3nps patterns will overlap even more.
    Remember, the patterns are all fitting within one 12-fret range of the neck (after 12 frets everything repeats). And each pattern covers 3 or 4 frets at least. That's a lot of overlap even with just 5 patterns.

    The practical issues are:

    1. Any scale pattern is designed to allow you to play a scale across the strings without moving your hand up or down. As such, a full 7-note pattern (as opposed to a pentatonic) needs 3 notes on each string, except one string will only have 2 (usually 3rd string, sometimes 2nd). Each finger has its own fret, although in most patterns the index may need to move back a fret, or the pinky up a fret, on 1 or 2 strings.

    2. 3 nps patterns - with 3 notes on every string - require a small change in position on moving to the top 2 or 3 strings. This means the patterns are less "fixed", and enables smoother transitions between patterns.

    3. The system of 5 patterns is usually based on the "CAGED" system, where each pattern is built around a movable version of one of those open position major chord shapes. This is good because it maintains the essential connection between scale(s) and chord(s). (Although there can still be confusions about chord and scale names.)

    4. Systems of 7 patterns are based on the idea that every note of the scale can be the lowest or starting note of a pattern. This is a quite logical thought, but is often combined with mode names for the patterns - which is a seriously BAD thing. There is also less of a link with chord shapes.
    And as I say, 7 patterns overlap a hell of a lot, and some of them involve quite big stretches.

    The important thing with all of this is realise:

    (a) any one scale runs all over the neck, as one mega pattern. We only break it down into smaller patterns (covering 3 or 4 frets) to make it easy to play in chunks, with minimal hand movement - ie in different "positions".
    (b) You have to understand the links between scales, key and chords. This is crucial. Patterns are all very well - and the guitar fretboard practically demands we learn via patterns and shapes of various kinds - but without knowing the theoretical links, it's difficult if not impossible to apply the patterns correctly.
    You don't have to learn every note on every fret right away, but you need to understand scale degrees (starting from the "tonic") and chord tones (starting from the "root".
    Every scale pattern contains several chord shapes or arpeggios. Any note of the scale can be a chord root. But only two notes can be tonics: the keynote of the major or its relative minor key.
    Eg, in any pattern of the C major scale, C is the major key tonic, and A its relative minor tonic. (There will be 2 or 3 instances of each of these notes in every pattern.) But all 7 notes can be chord roots, and the scale contains arpeggios of each chord: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim.
    A really useful exercise is to take any pattern and try and work out all these notes and arpeggios. Sometimes you can visualise the arp as a familiar chord shape, but not always.
    NB: the lowest note of the pattern has no significance whatsoever. It is not the "root" of the pattern (if we define "root" correctly). It will be the root of one of the chords in the pattern; but that doesn't mean that chord is more important than the others.
    Thanks a bunch!

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