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2 Octave Major [ Ionian mode ] Scale Patterns

Author - Mark Pitchforth
Ability - Beginner / Intermediate

Not many people enjoy learning scale shapes. For a start, it can be frustrating and time consuming to gain both the muscle memory and metal memory to recall the shapes. You then have to work on achieving the coordination between fretting and picking hands to get the scale up to any kind of speed.

That said, they're a key ingredient to understanding harmony and building knowledge for improvisation. Whatever style of guitar playing you're into, all the players use scales in one form or another.

Whether it be Noel Gallagher and his rudimentary use of the pentatonic scale or Frank Gambale and his never ending sweep patterns, they've both had to practice scales....
....Frank just put a little more work in..;-)

What makes the guitar different to a number of instruments, is the fact that you have a number of places to play the same note. Subsequently you can play the same notes of a scale in a number of ways.
To hopefully illustrate how the shapes fit together in relation to the root chord, I have listed some 2 octave patterns below.
A number of which have odd notes groupings per sting to help with practicing your coordination and expand your knowledge of the fingerboard.

REMEMBER: As with all these types of exercise, practice using alternate picking initially, you can worry about economy or sweep picking the things later, and use your little finger...

Π - Indicates a down pick stroke
∨ - Indicates an up pick stroke

A Major scale - shape 1

e:----------------------------0-2-4-5-----------------------------------|
B:---------------------0-2-3--------------------------------------------|
G:----------------1-2---------------------------------------------------|
D:---------0-2-4--------------------------------------------------------|
A:--0-2-4---------------------------------------------------------------|
E:----------------------------------------------------------------------|
Π-∨-Π etc...

 

A Major scale - shape 2

e:------------------------------2-4-5-----------------------------------|
B:-----------------------2-3-5------------------------------------------|
G:----------------1-2-4-------------------------------------------------|
D:---------0-2-4--------------------------------------------------------|
A:--0-2-4---------------------------------------------------------------|
E:----------------------------------------------------------------------|
Π-∨-Π etc...

 

A Major scale - shape 3

e:-------------------------------4-5------------------------------------|
B:------------------------3-5-7-----------------------------------------|
G:--------------------4-6-----------------------------------------------|
D:-----------2-4-6/7----------------------------------------------------|
A:--0-2-4-5-------------------------------------------------------------|
E:----------------------------------------------------------------------|

 

A Major scale - shape 4

e:----------------------------------5-----------------------------------|
B:---------------------------5-7-9--------------------------------------|
G:--------------------4-6-7---------------------------------------------|
D:-------------4-6-7----------------------------------------------------|
A:--0-2-4-5/7-----------------------------------------------------------|
E:----------------------------------------------------------------------|

 

A Major scale - shape 5

e:--------------------------------4-5------------------------------------|
B:---------------------------5-7-----------------------------------------|
G:--------------------4-6-7----------------------------------------------|
D:-------------4-6-7-----------------------------------------------------|
A:-------4-5-7-----------------------------------------------------------|
E:--5-7------------------------------------------------------------------|

 

A Major scale - shape 6

e:-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
B:------------------------------7-9-10-----------------------------------|
G:-----------------------4-6-7-------------------------------------------|
D:----------------4-6-7--------------------------------------------------|
A:---------5-7-9---------------------------------------------------------|
E:--5-7-9----------------------------------------------------------------|
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