Prerequisite: Naming Notes On String 6 And String 5

One of the very first steps towards becoming a competent guitarist is developing the ability to give any note on the neck of the guitar and exact letter name. In that regard, the most important strings are of course the bass strings, string six and string five. If it seems difficult to name notes on string six and string five automatically and instantly the video below was made for you.

Naming Notes On The Bass strings of the Guitar

Moveable Scale Patterns: Root 6 and Root 5 Thinking

In this lesson, you will continue to develop an eye for time honored industry standard scale patterns like the C major and G major scale found in the open position. Scale patterns like these become infinitely more useful once you learn how to transpose them. When learning and working with any new scale, be aware of, and memorize the name and location of the lowest pitched root rote of the scale pattern. The C scale pattern we’ve studied earlier in this course is usually the first scale we are exposed to in our musical studies.

Study and play your way through the diagram below. The one octave pattern is shown in black and the notes lying outside of the one octave pattern are in gray. Notice the big red star labeled “C” in located on string 5, fret III in the diagram below. As you play, emphasize that note, the root note of the scale, in your ear. Move your mouse over the diagram for another perspective.

Transposition ExerciseC Type:

Transposing means to change the key or pitch level of a musical selection while maintaining the individual relationships between the notes, to change everything by the same exact interval, as you’ve done many times already in this course.

It’s easy to transpose scale patterns because it’s the exact same pattern, shape and feel, only in a different spot on the neck. This means that the classic open position C scale pattern we’ve been studying can be transposed to any fret, not just the 12th fret as we’ve just done. In this way, it’s possible to use this scale pattern (also called a scale ‘shape’) in any of the 12 keys of music. Below, your classic open position C scale pattern, the C Type, is relocated to three separate spots on the neck of the guitar. The result is three completely new and different scales, each one in its own new and different key. This concept of movable scales is absolutely one of the key elements, a cornerstone concept in the true understanding and playing of the guitar. Super Scales is a study in the art and science of movable scales.

As you work your way through the trainer below, practice playing the exercises by yourself, ‘by ear’ without using the notes, TAB or recorded music.

Improvisational Concepts: C Type Pattern

As this course is about learning how to play and use scales, we previously analyzed a I – IV – V (C, F & G) progression in the key of C major. Since all the chords in the progression were members of C major, a soloist may choose to employ scale shapes and interesting musical ideas, that he has learned or invented, based on the scale pattern. The I – VI – IV – V creates a smooth and harmonious major sound, the flavor of the scale, or what we have learned to call the major tonality. Once this C Major tonality has been established, a C major scale fits all chords in the progression perfectly. Improvisers view this as the perfect opportunity for creating musical ideas, moments and naturally original melodies based entirely on a scale pattern.

Sample Solo

Below are soloing ideas in C major which are meant to compliment a stock, or standard I – VI – IV – V (C, Ami, F & G) chord progression. Many songs in the pop/ rock and rhythm & blues idiom are simply straight I – VI – IV – V chord patterns repeated over and over. This cadence is prevalent in all style of music as many songs, in many styles (jazz, country, reggae, etc.) are based entirely on the progression or contain sections or brief iterations of the cadence.


Musical Devices

A scale based idea, lick or melody is often called a musical device -in our solo I have used two such devices. In the first line of the solo I am emphasizing, or ‘milking’ notes which have a sweet sound in my ear: the 3rd (E), the 6th (A) and the 9th (D) –especially 6 and 9. As a chord tone, the 5th of the scale, G, is known for its strength. Below, I have indicated those sweet notes, as I am playing them, in the nice little phrase found in that first line.


Line 2 of the solo introduces a powerful and invaluable tool for soloing in any tonality: chromaticism. That is to say a brief passage of notes from the chromatic scale, (shown here in red) is used to add smoothness, melodic interest and to create a sense of motion. These chromatic notes, also called passing tones and work like a charm when used to connect the chord tones of C major chord (C – E -G). Learning to use and control Chromatic passing tones adds new life and countless musically exciting possibilities to comfortable and well known scale patterns. Chromatic notes tend to put that professional simonize on everything.

Melodic Movement By Thirds

Earlier in this course we learned that stepwise movement, or scale passages are the basis of many great melodies and guitar solos. Stepwise, or scale wise, movement is often referred to as the ‘law of melody’. Being good at playing scale passages is the first step towards becoming a competent improviser -it’s a great technique. Just as interesting and just as useful and certainly just as important is being able to achieve that same conversant, fluent style using melodic motion based on thirds.

The first note of a C scale is C of course and the third of that scale is the E note. Playing a C note followed by an E note is playing the first and third of the scale and is therefore called movement by thirds. The animation to the right outlines what happens when we continue motion by thirds throughout the whole entire scale. Movement by thirds is a powerful melodic device that I often called the ‘instant melody’ as a way to emphasize the importance of this technique.


Sample Solo

Study and play the preceding example until you know it as well as you know your own telephone number, treat it as an important ear training exercise as a well as a technical study. Next, learn the sample solo below which employs the technique of melodic movement by thirds, a technique so powerful I often call it the ‘instant melody’.


Play Along

Use the play along track (same as above minus lead) below to practice the solo and also to expand and on these ideas;

  • Melodic movement by thirds.
  • Passing tones on string one.
  • Chord tones and chord shapes
  • Leaning or ‘milking’ on ‘sweet notes’.

Of course, your goal is to start playing them your way as soon as possible.


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