Many players practice scales in different positions but don’t know how to connect them for fluid lines that weave across the neck

Welcome back to this month’s lesson, fellow pickers. I hope you all got your metronomes cranking last month. Well, keep it running, because this month we will cover getting your scale patterns to connect across the neck.

“Many players practice scales in different positions but don’t know how to connect them for fluid lines that weave across the neck.”

This month’s examples use a very common technique among guitar shredders like Satriani, Vai, Gilbert and yours truly. It uses three notes per string while moving from position to position.

The picking pattern is an alternating down, up, down, up. You’ll need to shift your hand up to the next position by always starting the next position with your first finger on your left hand – similarly, you will shift with your pinky finger when descending. You can also try doing these as pull-off and hammer-on exercises. Make sure you start your metronome at a slow tempo of 55 beats per minute. Every 30 to 60 seconds, speed up one click until your playing becomes sloppy.

Exercise 1)
Exercise 1
This example uses the A minor scale – or A Aeolian mode – with a triplet timing. There are three notes per beat or six notes per beat when you get faster. It starts on the 5th fret on the root note and ends at the 17th fret. Try recording a rhythm track to jam to – A minor to F major for 5 minutes. Then practice the examples and make up a few of your own.

Exercise 2)
Exercise 2
This example is a descending pattern with a triplet timing. This one will most likely be harder to play fast, so take your time, start slow and then try all pull-offs to strengthen your left hand.

Exercise 3)
Exercise 3
Here we are using the E minor scale – or E Aeolian mode – with a 16th note timing. However, if you look at the pattern, you’ll see it could easily be played as a triplet run. Playing 16th notes gives it a cool syncopated feel. As with the last example, try recording an E minor to C major backing track to jam to.

Exercise 4)
Exercise 4
Here’s the descending version, again with 16th notes. Try to see all the notes in the scale and not just memorize the pattern. The more you explore the neck, the freer you’ll become with your ideas.

Good luck with it. Visit me online if you have any questions.

Gary Hoey
you can email Gary at:

Almost six decades after forming the short-lived Rising Sons, the two legends reconvene to pay tribute to the classic blues duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee on the warm and rootsy Get on Board.

Deep into Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder’s Get on Board: The Songs of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, percussionist Joachim Cooder lays out, letting the two elder musicians can take a pass through “Pawn Shop Blues.” To start, they loosely play around with the song’s intro on their acoustic guitars. “Yeah, nice,” remarks Mahal off-handedly in his distinctive rasp—present since he was a young man but, at 79, he’s aged into it—and Cooder lightly chuckles. They hit the turnaround and settle into a slow, loping tempo. It’s a casual and informal affair—some notes buzz, and it sounds like one of them is stomping his foot intermittently. Except for Cooder’s slide choruses, neither guitar plays a rhythm or lead role. They simply converse.

Read More Show less

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less