Do I Need to Memorize Guitar Major Scale Pattern Shapes?

Do I Need to Memorize Guitar Major Scale Pattern Shapes?

Do I Need to Memorize Guitar Major Scale Pattern Shapes?

“I have worked thorough the guitar pentatonic scale patterns and have them down pretty well. I seem to find the guitar major scale patterns more difficult to remember. Do I need to learn them by shape or can I just build a scale as I go by knowing the scale degrees and steps? Also, do I need to have the major scales down “pat” before I can move on to other music theory topics?”

The key to understanding how music works on the guitar fretboard is visualizing shapes and patterns and how they connect. Since everything in music stems from the major scale, knowing guitar major scale patterns is foundational to guitar theory.

I recommend you follow the instruction laid out in Fretboard Theory Chapter 5: The Major Scale. Memorize on the guitar neck the set of 5 patterns and set of 7 patterns (three-notes-per-string) that I teach, and then practice connecting them forward and backward in order to complete the whole scale template. Once you can accomplish this in the original key I illustrate the patterns in, transpose the scale to new keys by shifting the template to new fretboard positions. Use accompaniment to practice with as I demonstrate in the video instruction. This way, you can hear the melodic characteristics of the major scale as you review the patterns (this will make practicing a lot more enjoyable).

After you can complete the scale template forward and backward in various keys, the next step is to learn lots of major scale songs. Melodies, riffs, lead guitar solos, and even bass lines will all demonstrate how to apply the patterns in musical context. And listeners will appreciate hearing something familiar too!


Comments ( 2 )

  • Roffe

    Hello Desi. Thanks for your book and video, they have been a great source of inspiration.
    I also am wondering about using the shapes alone as an approach to learn the fretboard. My guitarteacher that I meet once every 6 months say that the shapes are important, but equally as important and perhaps more important is knowing the intervals in the major scale and how they look on the fretboard, from this approach he say you don`t have to worry about complex shapes. Just know where you are that means what tone in the scale you play at the moment, and by knowing the intervals you should be able to find the next tone easily. He say you have to know what you are playing. He has given me exercises to practice. He say play 2 beats of rythm, then sing 2 beats of a solo you want to put on the fretboard, the solo example play a-major chord rythm for 2 beats, then sing 2 beats of a solo from the a-major scale, the or the a-minor or a-major pentatonic, you should know how the intervals sound by relating them to the start of known songs for example 1-8 interval is the start of “somwhere over the rainbow” all other intervals for example 1-b7 is “somewhere” from west side story, should be recognized in a simlar way, relating them to songs. then put the solo down to the fretboard by mind and then play what you just have song. He mean by such an approach you should build fretboardknowledge and a very musical ear. Desi what is your opinion about this approach, I use a little bit of your and my teachers approach I find them both useful in giving me the total picture.

  • Anonymous

    use pentatonics only. switch pentatonic scale for every chord of the song. if chords / chord progression stays in one key useing only major and minor pentatonics and following every chord will only use notes from the key of the song.your note selection will follow the progression more. you could remove the rythm and you lead will still imply the chord changes. also if your chords change the key of the song this stradegy will follow as well.