While our free download giveaway has ended for now, both Practice Power and Climbing the K2 can each be had for far less than the price of a single guitar lesson! Even better, if you have Amazon Prime, you can borrow the books from the Amazon lending library for free!
Thanks to everyone who checked in on the free promo weekend, we had over 2,000 downloads, and Practice Power is currently at #6 in the Top 100 Paid for Techniques. Since we’re only allowed to run 5 free days every 3 months, but we still want to give you a great deal, the prices for both Practice Power and Climbing the K2 are discounted 25%. Each book will give ideas and information for players of any skill level, for far less than the cost of a single lesson!
We’re also preparing the next three PTG books, which will be released throughout the summer. In the meantime, please keep checking in — later this week, we’ll have blues licks, interval examples, triads, and more!
How would you like to get two — yes, two — free guitar books right now? Each of these books could change the way you think about and play the guitar. Practice Power and Climbing the K2 are both FREE at Amazon, from May 24-27. Click on the links in this post, or at the top of the right sidebar.
Free sound files for the Climbing the K2 tabs will be posted on the Resources page over the weekend.
Please leave a review at the Amazon pages for the books, if you have the time; reviews help keep the books up in the rankings and on Amazon’s radar. Thanks, and have a great weekend!
OK, folks, the big day is here — Practice Power and Climbing the K2 are both available today for Kindle on Amazon. You can order either via the above links, or click on the icons on the right sidebar. We will be doing a discount promotion soon as well, but at $3.99 for each book, they are competitively priced, and each will provide knowledge, guidance, and reference that would require many hours of professional lessons.
If you’re still with us on the Scales and Intervals series, thanks for sticking with it. I guarantee you that while it may seem like a lot of information to absorb, especially if you’re starting with basic (or no) knowledge, that it will pay off, relatively quickly, and for years to come.
These are concepts that form the basis for developing the technical and the creative aspects of your playing. Obviously, both of those things are important, and knowing where things are and what they’re called will enable you to get where you want to go more quickly, and with fewer potholes along the way.
But for this post, let’s take a quick break from all the theory jargon, and show you a few practical things to work on, based on the material so far, that will give you real results, in a fairly short amount of time.
Check out the three main ways to play the C major scale across the neck, starting with the 1st, 2nd, then 4th fingers:
The above one we covered earlier in the series. Three-note-per-string scales are invaluable to learn, as they are the most adaptable, and present the most opportunities for creating great melodic patterns to run up and down through the scale.
The above form was the most conventional way to play a major scale for a long time, but most rock players went to the 3-note/string style in the ’80s, as those patterns are more applicable to shredding. Still, this is a good pattern to know, as it presents another way to anchor your fretting hand and prepare to navigate through the course of a solo or melodic phrase.
This last one is another good pattern for navigating and finger independence. It may be easier for you to play the D and G strings using the 3rd finger, instead of the 2nd. Either way, there’s going to be a little bit of shifting back and forth, but not too bad.
Practice all three forms with alternate picking, starting with downstrokes and with upstrokes, observing how the changes from string to string affect your picking motion in each form. Remember also these forms are movable, and the first (lowest) note is the root of the scale, so if you want to play a B major scale, start one fret down in 7th position.
In moving the forms to other positions, keep the note diagram for the entire fretboard handy, and observe the names of the notes in the other major scales. It’s especially helfpul to notice how many more accidentals (sharps/flats) are present in various keys.
For example, the C major scale, as we’ve seen, has no sharps or flats. But one position down, the B major scale, goes: B-C#-D#-E-F#-G#-A#-B, a total of 5 sharps in that scale. One position up from C, the C# major scale, goes: C#-D#-F(E#)-F#-G#-A#-C(B#)-C#. Technically, B#-C are enharmonics, as are E#-F, so the key signature (like you would see on a musical clef) of C# major is shown to have seven sharps, or every note in that major scale!
(About the only time you will ever see the notes B-sharp, E-sharp, C-flat, or F-flat, is when they are used in specific key signatures. Otherwise, they are conventionally known as C, F, B, and E respectively.)
There are mathematical patterns behind this, which we’ll cover in future posts when we get to concepts like the circle of fifths. In the meantime, just practice all three major scale forms in as many positions as possible (utilizing open strings as needed), and identify all the notes in each different major scale.
All those movable major scale forms should keep you busy for a while, and to add to the fun, let’s leave you with a couple of exercises based on third intervals. Here’s the first (3-note-per-string) scale form in thirds, ascending then descending:
Now in sextuplets:
The sextuplet rhythm and number of notes don’t quite land “right” the way the first example does, but you get the idea.
Needless to say, these interval exercises can be worked through all three scale forms diagrammed above. Start with both directions of alternate picking, then try incorporating legato, palm muting, and economy picking. Learn the patterns thoroughly in one position or key before moving them up and down the neck.
This series has grouped scales and intervals together, in order to show how the former is constructed from the latter. Hopefully this series has provided some insight as to how the two are related. Please check out the Intervals PDF on the Resources page for a larger chart showing the note and interval relationships within a given scale.
At this point, in order to do justice to each subject, we’re going to investigate deeper into intervals and scales separately. Over the next couple weeks, we’ll check out each type of interval separately, and provide tab examples and diagrams to help you get them under your belt. Then we’ll move on to some different types of scales.
Hopefully the material we’ve covered so far in scale and interval theory is useful and makes sense. As always, please post any questions or comments here, or send directly to email@example.com and we’ll respond ASAP.
So continuing on with exploring the C major scale, let’s try playing a few simple variations. Here’s a 5-string 2-octave version starting from 3rd position A string:
The same version spelled with intervals:
Check the tab, observing the slight shift when you get to the B string:
Remember to come back down the pattern, maintaining strict alternate picking. This one is movable as well, with the first note as the root. Playing the formation at the 5th position makes it a D major scale, 7th position is E major, etc.
Here is the scale in just a single octave, but in the more traditional (rather than 3-note/string) form:
As we progress through scales and intervals, and move on to triads, modes, chords, and arpeggios, the 1-octave form comes in pretty handy for developing melodic exercises that go through all seven modes of the scale (which we’ll get to soon).
Let’s look at one more way to play the major scale, before moving on to a quick interval exercise. Check out the single-string scale below:
This is a great exercise for position shifting. Use the suggested fingering and slides, ascending then descending, alternate picking throughout. Take it slow at first; the range you cover quickly makes it tough to just rip through it.
Single-string scale patterns are great to learn, in all keys and on every string. Sample diagrams will be provided on the Resources page, and you can also refer to the fretboard diagram below to figure the rest of the possibilities in C major:
Don’t worry about going strictly from C to C’ for single-string patterns, this is another great way to build fretboard knowledge and develop melodic patterns to use. Single- and two-string patterns are awesome for developing cool pedal point figures.
In all of these different scale formations, make sure to observe where the intervals are, and how they fall on the fretboard. Keep in mind that the interval designations in the above diagram are in relation to the root, and that the notes are also intervallically related to each other.
That might be a bit confusing, so here’s an example of the different intervallic relationships: you can see where the E note at the 12th fret of the low E string is a major third above the C note on the 8th fret of that string. You can see where the G note (10th fret, A string) is a perfect fifth above that C note. But that G note is also a major second above the F note (8th fret), and a minor third above the E note, the one that’s a major third above the C.
Be sure to check out the 2-page Intervals pdf cheat sheet on the Resources page; it contains a handy 2-octave chart that demonstrates the various combinations. Thirds are especially important to get a handle on, as it is the various combinations of major and minor thirds that are used to construct triads and chords.
We’ll get more into depth on intervals in the next post, but the tab below shows the C major scale played in ascending thirds:
All of the intervals are useful to know, but thirds are probably the most important ones to get familiar with. Stay tuned; more exercises based on thirds, and how to construct triads and chords with them, are up next.
Picking up where we left off with a basic description of how the 12 notes of an octave are named, organized, and related musically and on the fretboard. Recall the deceptively simple exercise we went over in the last post, of identifying each note on the fretboard.
Try it two ways:
- systematically running up the neck one fret at a time, calling out the name of each note as you go along;
- randomly selecting the 12 notes in succession, playing every note of that name in every octave, before moving on to the next note.
The reason I say the exercise is deceptively simple is that as a concept, it may seem to be at a basic level — names and locations of notes. But I have seen intermediate and even advanced players have to work at it. Try it, it’s not an easy thing to do all the way through. Five minutes before each practice session for two weeks, you will see results in your fretboard knowledge and ability to navigate quickly and confidently, guaranteed.
Let’s continue with another basic definition. A scale is simply a specific sequence of notes within an octave. There are many different types of scales, of varying numbers of notes. The scale that uses all 12 notes of the octave is the chromatic scale. Most scales you encounter will have five(pentatonic), six (hexatonic), seven, or eight notes. The most commonly used scales are major and minor seven-note scales. This post will focus primarily on the C Major scale.
The C Major scale is ideal for this purpose because it uses all seven natural notes, and no sharps or flats. The sequence goes like this:
C D E F G A B C’ (start next octave)
In the last post, we looked at the distances between notes in terms of half steps and whole steps (also known as semi-tones and whole tones, respectively). Keeping in mind the full 12-note octave, and the locations of the five sharp/flat notes, let’s break down the C Major scale in terms of distances between each note and the one right after it:
The first row below the header indicates what degree (scale note in relation to the root note) of the scale each note is. The next row shows the interval relationship from one note to the next; C to D, D to E, and so on. The bottom row shows the interval relationship between the root and each note of the scale.
“M” in front of a numeral refers to major, “m” is minor. (The delta (Δ) is also used to indicate major.)
So “M2” means a major second interval, “m7” would mean minor seventh. “P” (can be upper or lower case) means “perfect”; while second, third, sixth, and seventh intervals are always either major or minor, fourth and fifth intervals are always either perfect, diminished (half-step flat), or augmented (half-step sharp).
The augmented interval is also known as the tritone (TT), cornerstone of countless metal riffs, known in classical times as diabolus in musica (the devil in music), for its unresolved sound. The tritone is the halfway point in the 12-note octave.
So to recap the C major scale:
C D E F G A B C’
The sequence of half-steps (H) and whole steps (W) for any major scale goes like this:
Check out the full-fretboard diagram from the previous post, the one with every note listed. When you apply the W-W-H-W-W-W-H sequence starting from, for example, G, you’ll get the sequence G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G. That is the G major scale.
Let’s go back to C Major, and take a look at a standard 2½-octave, 3-note-per-string scale, starting from the the 8th fret on the E string.
Of course, there are plenty of areas and positions on the fretboard to play any scale, and we’ll take a look at several as this series moves along. But it’s really effective to work on the basics of the major scale in this position, because it uses all six strings, and is made up of just 3 fingerings paired across the neck.
Now the same scale, spelled out intervallically (again, the Δ denotes major):
Check the tab below for suggested fingering:
The 3-note-per-string setup makes it simple to play the scale in sextuplets:
Strict alternate picking, both down-up and up-down, ascending and descending. The formation is movable, with the first (lowest) note always being the root note, thus the name of the scale. So if you play this formation at the 3rd position, it’s a G major scale, 5th position is A major, etc.
In the next post in the series, we’ll take a look at a few other movable scale formations to use, as well as third intervals.