Seven Strings I: Scale Patterns

You've just bought your first 7 string guitar! Now what do you do with that extra string? The first in a series of lessons to guide you through the transition from 6 to 7 strings.

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Congratulations! You've just bought your first 7 string guitar. Now you can play all those lower notes without tuning down. You can also play more notes with less movement. Then you hit that fun little snag: "What am I supposed to do with this extra string?" This happens to a lot of people when they buy an extended range guitar. The problem here is that they look at their new guitar as a whole new beast. In reality, it's just one more string. All you have to do is add one more string to the 6 string patterns you already know. If we look at a 7 string guitar in standard tuning, we see that the seventh string is tuned to B (BEADGBE). If you've already learned your scales on a 6 string, all you have to do is add one more string. Let's go through all the modes of the C Major scale to see how they look: - C Ionian (C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C)
e|------------------------------------3-5-7-|
B|-------------------------------3-5-6------|
G|-------------------------2-4-5------------|
D|-------------------2-3-5------------------|
A|-------------2-3-5------------------------|
E|-------1-3-5------------------------------|
B|-1-3-5------------------------------------|
Simple right? Now let's look at the rest of the modes. - D Dorian (D,E,F,G,A,B,C,D)
e|-------------------------------------5-7-8-|
b|-------------------------------5-6-8-------|
G|-------------------------4-5-7-------------|
D|-------------------3-5-7-------------------|
A|-------------3-5-7-------------------------|
E|-------3-5-7-------------------------------|
B|-3-5-6-------------------------------------|
- E Phrygian (E,F,G,A,B,C,D,E)
e|--------------------------------------7-8-10-|
b|-------------------------------6-8-10--------|
G|-------------------------5-7-9---------------|
D|-------------------5-7-9---------------------|
A|-------------5-7-8---------------------------|
E|-------5-7-8---------------------------------|
B|-5-6-8---------------------------------------|
- F Lydian (F,G,A,B,C,D,E,F)
e|------------------------------------------8-10-12-|
b|-----------------------------------8-10-12--------|
G|-----------------------------7-9-10---------------|
D|----------------------7-9-10----------------------|
A|---------------7-8-10-----------------------------|
E|--------7-8-10------------------------------------|
B|-6-8-10-------------------------------------------|
- G Mixolydian (G,A,B,C,D,E,F,G)
e|-------------------------------------------------10-12-13-|
b|-----------------------------------------10-12-13---------|
G|---------------------------------9-10-12------------------|
D|-------------------------9-10-12--------------------------|
A|-----------------8-10-12----------------------------------|
E|---------8-10-12------------------------------------------|
B|-8-10-12--------------------------------------------------|
- A Aeolian (A,B,C,D,E,F,G,A)
e|------------------------------------------------------12-13-15--|
b|---------------------------------------------12-13-15-----------|
G|------------------------------------10-12-14--------------------|
D|---------------------------10-12-14-----------------------------|
A|------------------10-12-14--------------------------------------|
E|----------10-12-13----------------------------------------------|
B|-10-12-13-------------------------------------------------------|
- B Locrian (B,C,D,E,F,G,A,B)
e|-------------------------------------------------------13-15-17-|
b|----------------------------------------------13-15-17----------|
G|-------------------------------------12-14-16-------------------|
D|----------------------------12-14-15----------------------------|
A|-------------------12-14-15-------------------------------------|
E|----------12-13-15----------------------------------------------|
B|-12-13-15-------------------------------------------------------|
Now look at these patterns from the 6th string up. Do they look familiar? If we take the 7th string off and start on the 6th string, we get the following modes (in order): - F Lydian - G Mixolydian - A Aeolian - B Locrian - C Ionian - D Dorian - E Phrygian So, all you're doing is adding another 3 notes on top of the patterns you already know. If we look at it this way, it is much easier to learn the scales because we're not trying to learn whole new patterns. We're just adding more notes! You can do the same thing with any scale you want to. It is also fun to explore different ways of playing your scales. Learn the notes on your guitar, then experiment with your own patterns. Part II will cover 7 string arpeggio shapes. If you'd like to request a lesson on any subject, just leave a comment, and I will do my best to write one if time permits.

18 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Sevenstring18
    TatarSalad2 wrote: I think you should've done a short explaination of what the modes are. People with little music theory knowledge might get confused.
    I mainly wrote this lesson assuming that people who already knew their patters would be the primary audience. I just finished part II. I'll make sure I include a little more theory in future lessons. Thanks to everyone for the feedback
    Dillon_Kennedy
    DeadxEndxEmpty wrote: Why is it I didn't find this article until AFTER I sold my 7 string?
    you sold your child!!!!!
    CrusaderTrivium
    A mode is a scale containing all the same notes as another, For example E natural minor (Aeolian Mode) contains the same notes as G natural major (Ionian mode)
    TatarSalad2
    I think you should've done a short explaination of what the modes are. People with little music theory knowledge might get confused.
    Sevenstring18
    Sevenstring18 wrote: I'll hopefully get it written today or in the next couple days.
    I just submitted part II. They'll be under different categories that correspond to the technique in question. To find the future lessons, just search "Seven Strings" under the lessons area.
    Sevenstring18
    Dream Floyd wrote: Why have F lydian starting on the 12th fret rather than the 0 (open) fret?
    Well, it was B locrian. I put it on that fret for the sake of ease. I wanted to show them from C to B in a linear fashion. If you can shift it to an octave you feel more comfortable with, go for it. Also, when playing fast, it is much easier to place the root on the 12th fret.