EDIT: Theory is good, this is meant to help people memorize scale shapes nothing else, sorry for the misleading thread title.

I have had a lot of problems memorizing all of the different scale shapes. I have tried the CAGED system and just pure memorization but when it comes to linking the different shapes together I always become a little lost. Here is what I figured out to help me use 5 of the 7 possible modes without really needing to think so much about what I am playing and simply learn a simple pattern instead.

Here is the method that I have found to memorize 5 shapes of the same scale, Major or Minor dependent on which note you call the "root" note (ex C major with a root of C is the same as A minor with a root of A)

There exists only 5 patterns that you need to memorize, that are linked across the strings of the guitar to form these 5 different scale patterns. They are as follows:

THESE ARE YOUR FINGERS, dont confuse this with a guitar neck, these are the fingers you play with for the 5 different patterns:
|--1---3-------| 5th
|--1---3-4-----| 4th
|--1---3-4-----| 3rd
|--1-2---4-----| 2nd
|--1-2---4-----| 1st

Now this is NOT the shape of any of the scales because you need to shift the shapes one fret forwards when you reach the B string, since it is not tuned the same as the other strings.

To use this to form your different scale shapes simply find your root note and place your 2nd finger of the 1st pattern if the scale you want to play is Major, or the 1st finger of the 3rd pattern if the scale is minor. Next move up to the next string in ascending pattern order, and when you reach the fifth pattern move back one fret and start at the 1st pattern shape again. See below for an example of the A minor scale.

A minor scale root (5th) position:
e|--5---7-8-----| 3rd
B|--5-6---8-----| 2nd (shifted forwards one fret due to G string to B string change)
G|--4-5---7-----| 1st (shifted backwards one fret due to 5th pattern -> 1st pattern)
D|--5---7--------| 5th
A|--5---7-8-----| 4th
E|--5---7-8-----| 3rd

Now to play this scale in the next position forwards you need to move your pointer finger into position from where your ring finger is (or pinky if not using ring finger) on the E string and begin with whatever pattern you just played on the G string. This also works with the other strings as long as the next pattern you start with is 3 strings higher than the string you are on (ex playing the B string pattern [2nd] starting on the 7th fret of the A string).

To shift backwards do the same thing but use the pattern that is on the D string if starting on the E string, and end the pattern on your middle finger (or pointer if not using the middle finger).

Shifted up position

e|--7-8---10----| 1st (shifted backwards one fret due to 5th pattern -> 1st pattern)
B|----8----10----| 5th (shifted forwards one fret due to G string to B string change)
G|--7---9-10----| 4th
D|--7---9-10----| 3rd
A|--7-8---10----| 2nd
E|--7-8---10----| 1st

Shifted down position

e|-----3---5-----| 5th
B|-----3---5-6--| 4th (shifted forwards one fret due to G string to B string change)
G|--2---4-5-----| 3rd
D|--2-3---5-----| 2nd
A|--2-3---5-----| 1st (shifted backwards one fret due to 5th pattern -> 1st pattern)
E|-----3---5-----| 5th

I just discovered this trick to help me learn the scale shapes much better across the neck, I hope it helps someone else to better their playing. You can also use this to find all of the modes using 3nps patterns but there are 7 patterns instead of 5 and you use the pattern on the high e string and start on the next note instead of simply on the G string pattern etc. It is a little more complicated but if someone really wants to go into it I can show you what I mean....
Last edited by Moses_Reborn at Aug 1, 2010,
why not just learn theory like everyone else instead of trying to find a way around it?
I have learned quite a bit about theory, but considering playing an instrument is a physical act this helps me translate the theory into my playing much better than the slow process of thinking what theory tells me is harmonic or dissonant and then playing it. Plus there are people who don't want to learn theory but still want to play, not everyone learns theory.
Don't learn scales as shapes. Learn the notes of the scales and the notes of the fretboard. Then there are no boxes that you have to stay in. You are free to move around.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
Id much rather learn a group of shapes than memorizing every note on the fretboard to the point that I can recall it in less than 1 second. I find it more useful to find the key of a song and then the relations that all of the notes in that key use than knowing what notes are in the Bb minor harmonic scale and then searching for them across the fretboard.

Plus this way works for multiple keys major and minor by shifting your first scale shape and to the proper root note (yes you need to know the note anyways for that but not at the level of proficiency you are implying) and then playing THE EXACT SAME pattern relationships as with every other major/minor key.

That is a huge benefit for people looking to be able to play in many different keys with little thought as to where their hands need to be. Unlike trying to recall all of the notes in said key and then finding them on the fretboard.
Quote by Junior#1
Don't learn scales as shapes. Learn the notes of the scales and the notes of the fretboard. Then there are no boxes that you have to stay in. You are free to move around.

I agree with this. This is my problem and I've ****ed myself over huge by doing this.
I'm now spending my due time the hard way
Quote by Moses_Reborn
I have learned quite a bit about theory, but considering playing an instrument is a physical act this helps me translate the theory into my playing much better than the slow process of thinking what theory tells me is harmonic or dissonant and then playing it. Plus there are people who don't want to learn theory but still want to play, not everyone learns theory.

playing an instrument is a physical action. excellent composition is very rarely a physical act.

if the process of translation is slow, it means that you haven't learned anywhere near as much as you think you have. it's like a language. the slower it takes you to translate, the more you have to study and understand.

if you just go by scale shapes, your understanding of music as a whole is limited to the guitar. these people are not musicians -- they are guitarists.

maybe i'm a bit elitist, but there are reasons music theory is not extinct. besides, by sticking to scale shapes, you are limited to playing in scales - playing freely with respect to a tonal center (or a lack thereof) will be needlessly difficult with this approach.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
Quote by Moses_Reborn
I have learned quite a bit about theory, but considering playing an instrument is a physical act this helps me translate the theory into my playing much better than the slow process of thinking what theory tells me is harmonic or dissonant and then playing it. Plus there are people who don't want to learn theory but still want to play, not everyone learns theory.

It's not a physical act, that's only part of the process - it's also an aural act and a mental act.

Memorising a load of scale patterns is of limited use unless you also understand what those scales are, how they're constructed, how the notes function and how they can be used.

Anyone can memorise a scale pattern the way you've described, it's a piece of piss and it's what most people do the remember them regardless of how much or little of the theory behind them they understand - it doesn't changed the fact that the pattern in isolation isn't teaching you an awful lot. Knowing the notes and intervals as well as the patterns is a lot easier in the long run.
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.

stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
Last edited by steven seagull at Aug 1, 2010,
if your jamming you don`t have time to decide which scale form you are going to use, that`s why i rely on a mental library of licks and the mk 1 earlobes.

you still need to know the theory though but there`s no cheats for it
Last edited by ibanezgod1973 at Aug 1, 2010,
Learning shapes is fine as long as you understand the theory behind the scales. Shapes are a great way to start visualizing the notes that you want to play all over the neck, and they help a ton with learning all 12 keys.
The guy's a beast, but he uses 8s. So he's shit.
-juckfush on Alex Hutchings.
I read the title and sighed.

Dude just learn theory and scales like everyone else does. You'll probably get a better result if you do it the tedious and boring way.
Gear:

Squier Tele Custom ii (p90 version)

Orange Crush 10

Fender CD140S
Considering no one reads the post and my title was poorly written originally, this is meant as a guide to memorize shapes for major and minor scales on the guitar. If anyone here had ever learned about the CAGED system used for pentatonic scales or read the book Fretboard Logic you would see that this is helpful in a similar manner.

I apologize to all of the theory heavy guitarists, but if you aren't going to use this then why waste your time posting on this thread anyways? Just because you want to study a set of observations that were made that linked similar western musical ideas together and use that as a hard and fast rule to write everything doesnt mean that the people who dont feel the need to study this or the want to study this couldnt benefit from the given information.