Major Scale Sequencing In 3′s

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Learn How To Use The Major Scale In Sequences of Three’s!

Major Scale Sequencing in 3In this guitar lesson we are going to learn how to sequence a major scale in groups of 3’s. The scale that we will be using in this lesson is a pretty common three note per string pattern in the key of A major. If you don’t know this particular major scale shape don’t worry, we have included a scale diagram so you can practice it if you need to. We have also provided you with the notation and TAB for the sequencing example. Remember to use alternate picking throughout the entire example.

Sequencing a scale just means you are going to play a pattern throughout the entire scale. To play this A major scale sequenced in 3’s start on the first, or lowest, note of the scale on the 5th fret of the 6th string and play the first three notes of the scale in order. Pick down, up, down with your picking hand. From here, start on the second note of the scale on the 7th fret of the 6th string and play the next three notes of the scale. Pick up, down, up to keep your alternate picking going. Now start on the 3rd note of the scale and play three more notes with a down, up, and a down. Starting to get the pattern? If you are confused at all just take a look at the TAB. That should clear up any misunderstandings. Repeat this pattern all the way up and back down the scale.

You probably noticed that every time you start a new group of three notes you alternate starting with an up or a down stroke on your picking hand. This is because there are an odd number of notes in this sequence. This can be a bit tricky at first, but stick with it because it can be a great exercise for your alternate picking. You don’t have to pick every note of this exercise. If you want you can play the entire exercise legato. If you decide to use a more legato approach you will see that sequencing scales like this can be a really good work out for your left hand too.

Remember that scales like this are movable. If you wanted to play this example in the key of B major, all you would have to do is move the entire shape up two frets. Dust off your metronome, set it at a slow tempo, and practice this exercise until it is clean and clear. Add 10 beats per minute and work on it again. Continue doing this until you get it up to a pretty good speed, but make sure not to speed up the metronome until your playing is even and clean.

Try to start using ideas like this here and there in your playing. Keep an ear out for sequences like this the next time you are listening to some jazz, fusion, or even some rock or country music.

This Lesson Has 2 Comments

  • Eapen Zach says:

    You have a great site Nate with lot of free guitar lessons ! I have linked to your site from mine!

  • Luke La Mendt says:

    Exercises like these are important towards developing appropriate technique. Though, what’s more important is applying it to different shapes of the major scale, then taking another step and playing the 3 note sequence as 16th notes. Also, I see the lessons on the right, but no mention of playing any scale in 3rds (ex: “A”: A, C#, B, D, C#, E, D, F#, E, G#, F#, G#, A), or 4ths, 5ths, etc… Nor is there any mention of contoured 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, etc… Which is a technique used a lot in jazz and fusion. Why is this?


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