Whole Guitar Neck Mapped Out

Most guitarists spend their entire musical life soloing out of just one or two scale patterns, typically at the 5th and 12th frets, depending on whether they’re playing in the key of A or E. How boring that is for the listener, and really, how boring that must be for the guitarist.

There are only seven different scale patterns that cover the entire neck of the guitar in any key. Learning them all is not only easy, it’s mandatory for anyone who wants to develop into more than your typical hack lead guitarist.

Once you know the seven patterns, all you have to do is slide them up and down the neck to play in any other key. Remember that if you slide one of the patterns up two frets, you must slide all of the patterns in that key up two frets – they work together.

And even better, when you learn the seven patterns in one key, you’ve actually learned two keys – one major and one minor – because of the theory of relative majors and minors (see tip #12 in the book “101 Guitar Tips: Stuff All The Pros Know And Use” for more information).

These seven scale patterns are labeled based on the first note on the low string of each pattern and its relation to the root note C. So the pattern that begins on C at the 8th fret on the sixth string is “Pattern One.”

Each of the other patterns correlates with a scale step in the key of C major, so the pattern that begins with the open low E string is actually “Pattern Three,” because it begins on E, the third step in the C major scale. For more on the scale numbering system, see tip #2 in 101 Guitar Tips. This method will make transposing to other keys easier, and will aid in learning the notes in each key.

Here are the seven scale patterns in the key of C major/A minor.

Guitar Scale Charts

Copyright 2003 Hal Leonard Corporation

“The Whole Neck Mapped Out” is the No. 1 lesson from my best-selling instructional book, “101 Guitar Tips: Stuff All The Pros Know And Use.” This is the most important guitar-based knowledge I have to share, and I stress it with all my private students.

You can purchase a copy of this book at music stores worldwide, or directly from my website, www.AdamStJames.com. 101 Guitar Tips includes many tips from celebrities such as B.B. King, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and more, from interviews I’ve done throughout the years.