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Major scale forms - 3 notes per string

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Major scale forms - 3 notes per string

There are many ways to play major scales on the neck of the guitar. Each different way has it's advantages and disadvantages for different situations. In this lesson we are going to take a look at a very common major scale system on the guitar. Playing 3 notes of the scale on every string.

There are going to be 7 different major scale fingerings in this system. There are 7 different notes in a major scale before the note names start over again an octave higher. (You may want to check out the lesson in the music theory section of this site on constructing major scales.) So each form in this scale system is going to start on a different note in the major scale. So as a way of differentiating between the 7 different scale forms, I have given each one a modal name based on the first note that is being played on the 6th string. A modal what? Check out the lesson on modes called "Modes 101". That will help you understand where the names come from that I am going to use in this lesson.

You don't really have to name each fingering anything. As long as you know where the root of the scale is. As with a lot of scale forms that are played on the guitar, the root is not always the first note that you play. Out of the 7 major scale forms covered in this lesson, there will only be one that actually starts on the root.

In this lesson I have written out the 7 positions of a G major scale. The root of the scale is indicated in red. There are 2 versions of each scale. One version shows a suggested fingering for the scale, and the other shows the scale degrees or functions. Keep in mind that there are other possible ways to finger these scale forms, and you should do your own experimentation as well as try the suggested fingering. Try to learn these in order. Just think of each scale fingering as a piece of a puzzle. Each of these scale forms fits right into the next form. Take a look below how the "Ionian Form" of the G major scale starting at the 3rd fret, and the "Dorian Form" starting at the 5th fret share some of the same notes. The higher part of the "Ionian Form" is the lower part of the "Dorian Form".

Ionian Form

Ionian Scale Form

Dorian Form

Dorian Scale Form

Don't try and and learn all of these scale forms at once. Learn one at a time. Practice them, write melodies and improvise with them. This lesson refers to these as "major" scale forms, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. These could be considered 7 different natural minor scale forms. See the lesson on natural minor scales. Also these could be 7 different forms of any of the major scale modes. See the Modes 101 lesson. It just depends on what note within the scale form you are thinking of as the root. If you don't fully understand the concept of how one scale form can have so many different names, don't will. Often as you are learn a subject that has so many different sub-topics like music, you have to partially understand a lot of things before you can fully understand anything. So read and reread those lessons that I have referenced above.

These scale forms do require some stretches, so you will need to make sure that you keep your left hand thumb low.....about in the middle of the back of the neck.

Page 2, Ionian scale form


Major scale forms - 3 notes per string - jump zone

Intro to scale forms
Ionian scale form
Dorian scale form
Phrygian scale form
Lydian scale form

Mixolydian scale form
Aeolian scale form
Locrian scale form
All scale forms together
Things to do with these scale forms

Free Download - 17 Essential Strum Patterns PDF

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