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Connecting Scale Patterns

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
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