Hands Of Steel III: Mastering Scales. Part I

Part III of the Hands of Steel series. This multi-part lesson will focus on mastering scales with fluency and versatility. Part I introduces scale patterns on single strings.

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Greetings Knights and Dames of shredding! Hands of Steel III will be a multi-part lesson. Its aim will be to help you learn scales in a way that will enable maximum fluency, and versatility. Unlike many lessons or books on scales, this lesson is designed to keep you out of the dreaded box that so many of us have become trapped in at one point or another. I will do this by first introducing a scale in single string patterns only. This will encourage movement up and down the neck, rather than the more linear box-patterns that most of us were taught. In the remaining parts of Hands of Steel III, you will then learn 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 string patterns. Then, extended scale patterns will be covered. Finally, we will end with a nice little tude to help you bring it all together. So, without further ado, let's begin Part I with the usual tips from the previous lessons. Oh yes, I'm planning to pound them into your brain to the point where you repeat them in your sleep! -Play every note clearly and evenly. Don't cheat yourself by playing sloppy or uneven notes, because it will just lead to problems further down the road. -It helps to have regular practice every day. I'd recommend at least 30 minutes a day, though more is usually better. -Relax! Excessive tension can cause discomfort, repetitive strain injuries, and it can greatly limit your playing ability. I'd also recommend that you stretch before practice to prevent injury. As stated before, many guitarists tend to play scales in a very boxed-in manner (staying in a single position). This naturally imposes certain limitations. Being able to move around freely when playing a scale opens up the door to a lot of new possibilities, and let's be honest here: It looks really impressive to boot! The best way to achieve this is to learn the notes of the fretboard first. For this, I would recommend a free software called FretPro. It not only features a game that will help you learn the positions of the notes, but it also has an interactive chord and scale diagram which will show you all of the note positions for commonly used scales. Once you can play the game accurately with all of the strings and frets activated, you are ready to begin learning the scales themselves. Open up the scale pattern display, click on C, then Major. You will now see all of the notes of the C Major scale displayed up to the 12th fret. Now, look at the high E string. Notice the pattern of the notes on that string. In tablature, it would look like this: Example 1) Notes on the high E string.
e|-0-1-3-5-7-8-10-12-|
B|-------------------|
G|-------------------|
D|-------------------|
A|-------------------|
E|-------------------|
First, play the notes up, then down. Once you've gotten used to that, try some different sequences. Play around with the order in which you play the notes a little bit. Examples 2a, and 2b are part of a sequence that I use in my own practice and playing. Examples 2a and 2b move in groups of three; ascending and descending, respectively. The recommended fingerings are below the tab. 1=index finger, 2=middle finger, 3=ring finger, 4=pinkie, and 0=open string. Example 2a) Ascending
e|-0-1-3-1-3-5-3-5-7-5-7-8-7-8-10-8-10-12-|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|----------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
*  0 1 3 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 3 4 1 2 4  1  2  4
Example 2b) Descending
e|-12-10-8-10-8-7-8-7-5-7-5-3-5-3-1-3-1-0-|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|----------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
*   4  2 1  4 2 1 4 3 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 3 1 0
Take your time with this. Remember that it's better to be very good at doing one thing than it is to be very bad at doing many things. Once you have a good grasp on the E string, do the same thing with the other strings. Example 3) Notes on the B string.
e|-------------------|
B|-0-1-3-5-6-8-10-12-|
G|-------------------|
D|-------------------|
A|-------------------|
E|-------------------|
Example 4a) Ascending
e|----------------------------------------|
B|-0-1-3-1-3-5-3-5-6-5-6-8-6-8-10-8-10-12-|
G|----------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
*  0 1 3 1 2 4 1 3 4 1 2 4 1 2 4  1  2  4
Example 4b) Descending
e|----------------------------------------|
B|-12-10-8-10-8-6-8-6-5-6-5-3-5-3-1-3-1-0-|
G|----------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
*  4  2  1  4 2 1 4 2 1 4 3 1 4 2 1 3 1 0
Example 5) Notes on the G string
e|-------------------|
B|-------------------|
G|-0-2-4-5-7-9-10-12-|
D|-------------------|
A|-------------------|
E|-------------------|
Example 6a) Ascending
e|----------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|-0-2-4-2-4-5-4-5-7-5-7-9-7-9-10-9-10-12-|
D|----------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
*  0 2 4 1 3 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 3 4  1  2  4
Example 6b) Descending
e|----------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|-12-10-9-10-9-7-9-7-5-7-5-4-5-4-2-4-2-0-|
D|----------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
*  4  2  1  4 3 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 4 3 1 4 2 0
Example 7) Notes on the D string.
e|-------------------|
B|-------------------|
G|-------------------|
D|-0-2-3-5-7-9-10-12-|
A|-------------------|
E|-------------------|
Example 8a) Ascending
e|----------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|----------------------------------------|
D|-0-2-3-2-3-5-3-5-7-5-7-9-7-9-10-9-10-12-|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
*  0 1 2 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 3 4  1  2  4
Example 8b) Descending
e|----------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|----------------------------------------|
D|-12-10-9-10-9-7-9-7-5-7-5-3-5-3-2-3-2-0-|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
*  4  2  1  4 3 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 2 1 0  
Example 9) Notes on the A string
e|-------------------|
B|-------------------|
G|-------------------|
D|-------------------|
A|-0-2-3-5-7-8-10-12-|
E|-------------------|
Example 10a) Ascending
e|----------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|----------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------|
A|-0-2-3-2-3-5-3-5-7-5-7-8-7-8-10-8-10-12-|
E|----------------------------------------|
*  0 1 2 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 3 4 1 2 4  1  2  4
Example 10b) Descending
e|----------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|----------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------|
A|-12-10-8-10-8-7-8-7-5-7-5-3-5-3-2-3-2-0-|
E|----------------------------------------|
*  4  2  1  4 2 1 4 3 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 2 1 0
For the low E string, the notes and fingering patterns are exactly the same as the high E (Examples 1,2a, and 2b). So there you have it. This first part might seem awfully simple, but it is quite possibly the most important. When you've learned these patterns on single strings, it is the first step taken in seeing a scale as one big pattern instead of a few boxes. Once you've mastered the exercises in this lesson, be sure to try other ways of sequencing. I could sit here and give you a book merely on ways to sequence scales on a single string, but I won't do that because one of the major points of these lessons is to foster your creativity as well as your technique. To be truly great players and musicians, we need to be as creative as possible. The world would be pretty boring if every guitarist sounded exactly the same, wouldn't it? In the next lesson, we will learn how to take these single string patterns and merge them into 2 string patterns. Until then: Keep Shredding!

21 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    JL_Shredder
    guitarcello wrote: hey dude, I just read all your lesson and what I can say is that it inspires to create some exercises by myself to improve my technique. Keep doing this... Thanks a lot.
    I am honored to know that I've done something to inspre other people.
    No2wad
    After playing Gat for 15 years, going back to and learning the basics is making a huge difference. My drills are getting simpler and simpler to re learn what I didn't have the patience for as a kid, and my playing is getting more and more technical as a result. Keep it up bud, it doesn't matter how long you've played, this stuff is HUGE!!
    JL_Shredder
    JL_Shredder wrote: DustinE wrote: I'm really enjoying these lessons, thanks for putting them together, they're a great help! Wanted to know when you think the next lesson will be ready? Practicing this, while I'm getting better at using the whole neck, I still find myself getting caught up in box patterns. The next one is being submitted tonight
    If you're still using the box patterns, I'd recommend finding some backing tracks in whichever style you prefer. Then, try to play all of your leads and solos for that track on a single string, never crossing over. Do this for each string. That should help a lot because it forces you not only to use a single string, but to be more creative with lead playing.
    JL_Shredder
    DustinE wrote: I'm really enjoying these lessons, thanks for putting them together, they're a great help! Wanted to know when you think the next lesson will be ready? Practicing this, while I'm getting better at using the whole neck, I still find myself getting caught up in box patterns.
    The next one is being submitted tonight
    JL_Shredder
    DustinE wrote: I had thought the next addition was going to be added on 12/08, can we still expect a continuation of this?
    Yes, you can expect a new one soon. It looks like something in cyber space went wrong. It was never approved, never got an email, and it's not listed on my contribution list. Looks like I'll be rewriting it within the next few days. Something must have gone wrong when I submitted it. This just shows me that I need to save new lessons on my computer haha
    DustinE
    I had thought the next addition was going to be added on 12/08, can we still expect a continuation of this?
    DustinE
    I'm really enjoying these lessons, thanks for putting them together, they're a great help! Wanted to know when you think the next lesson will be ready? Practicing this, while I'm getting better at using the whole neck, I still find myself getting caught up in box patterns.
    cccp2006
    Thanks dude. I now have some motivation to properly learn some scales
    ramram^_^
    Hey man, just wanted to say that your lessons are great and are helping me a lot so thanks
    larrydicus
    I realy love checking out methods of working scales. My guitar teacher started me on 3 note per string,across 6 strings, scales and modes right from the beginning. Im glad he did. And I went to the single (box) posission after learning to cross 6 stings and up the fret board.
    guitarcello
    hey dude, I just read all your lesson and what I can say is that it inspires to create some exercises by myself to improve my technique. Keep doing this... Thanks a lot.
    guitarzzan
    I went and bought an 2005 American made Telecaster Deluxe. It's the best guitar I've ever played. She'll never win a beauty contest, but she'll win the Miss Congeniality Contest. Best hand **** ever.
    thesongsofblur
    im new at this and i used to suck at my pinky now i can play it like anyother finger... thanks