Hey there Premier Guitarist! Apparently
I started something last month when I
mentioned that I practice my scales in a
cycle of 4ths with the Ionian mode (major
scale) and the Aeolian mode (natural
minor). I’d gone over it a few years ago
when Premier Guitar was Musician’s
, but I’ll run it again for the many
new readers. If you want me to cover
something, you can reach me at Toshi@
ToshiIseda.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or
One formula for arpeggios in the key of
C major is 1, 3, 5, 7 (C, E, G, B), which is
taken from the Ionian mode, otherwise
known as the major scale. Its formula
is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8va, with no
sharps or flats. With the arpeggio, we
we’re taking the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th
degrees of the scale which created our
major 7th arpeggio. This is applicable to
all the keys.
I’ve accumulated several useful fingerings
throughout the years that I’ve
seen other players use. The fingerings
we’ll go over today will present different
degrees of difficulty; some of these
fingerings may seem awkward but the
goal here is to overcome any technical and
physical limitations. These are all practical
fingerings used by today’s top players, so
I’ll try to name someone who uses each
fingering to show you that you can play
is a common fingering that
everyone from Paul Gilbert to Marty
Friedman has used. Three-notes-per-string
shapes are very conducive to fast pattern
or sequence type playing (shredding).
is used by guys like Al
DiMeola and Steve Morse. Morse was the
first guy I saw using this pattern in an old
is used by John Petrucci of
Dream Theater on occasion.
is also used by Steve Morse,
as well John Petrucci, who, like me, grew
up listening to and being influenced by
is used by Steve Morse, too!
It’s actually a very awkward fingering to get
down, but I like it because it’s challenging
to play with authority.
is similar to the first, but displaces
one note which can throw some
people for a loop when they then have to
descend the scale and hit that B note on
the B string with an upstroke.
is a horizontal pattern that I
really love to get around the fretboard with.
Greg Howe uses this shape in his improvisation
as well as some cool three-octave
extensions of the pattern.
The last three fingerings all start on the
is our beloved three-note-perstring
fingering, ala Paul Gilbert and Vinnie
is actually an Andrés Segovia
fingering from his great book, Tonic Major
and Minor Scales
, so it’s a legitimate, classically-
influenced C major scale fingering.
is another horizontal fingering
that starts on the 5th string, and it’s
one that I’ve seen Steve Vai employ.
Now that we’ve got the fingerings down,
how do we practice them? First, use a
metronome and count 16th notes and use
alternate picking. Play cleanly and accurately
and memorize the fingerings so that
you may improvise within them fluently.
Finally, practice them in a cycle of 4ths
– G, C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, B, E, A, D and
back to G.
Make sure that every time you go to
another note in the cycle you change the
fingering and try to utilize all ten fingerings
throughout the cycle. You want to start
with a different fingering every time you
start the cycle so you don’t form a habit
of starting with the same fingering every
time. Remember, we don’t want our fingerings
to become habits.
Now you have your work cut out for you,
so have at it. Until next month, “who dares
Toshi Iseda is an Alumnus of the prestigeous Berklee
College of Music and the American Conservatory of Music.
He has been featured in Guitar Player, Guitar World and
Guitar/Guitar One Magazines, and is a former instructor
at the National Guitar Workshop and former instructor at
the American Institute of Guitar.