Useful shape for a Major Scale plus fast position shifting technique!

In this exercise, I will go over some basics behind the Major Scale, show you one shape of a Major Scale and how to play it in multiple locations on the fretboard, as well as show you how to develop fast position shifting technique.
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Useful shape for a Major Scale plus fast position shifting technique! fretboard diagram

In the fretboard diagram you see a single shape for a Major Scale - in this case G Major - and how it can be played in several positions on the fretboard. In any of the shapes where the G and B strings come into play the shape looks a little bit different, but that is only because the G and B strings are the only adjacent strings on the guitar that are separated by a Major 3rd, as opposed to a Perfect 4th between other adjacent strings. Still, you can think of this as just one shape, moved about the fretboard, where the root note is simply moved to various places on the fretboard where there is a G. Like 3rd fret low E string, 10th fret A string, 5th fret D string, 12th fret G string.

In this exercise we are going to get your hands and ears used to a Major Scale, by playing all four of these shapes using position shifting to quickly get your hand to where it needs to be!

Even more importantly, by practicing this G Major Shape you will already be able to play any other Major Scale, be it A, Bb, B, C, C#, D, etc. That is because we guitarists are lucky that scale and chord shapes look the same on guitar regardless of the root note.You just have to move things up or down the fretboard. So with any of the above shapes, if you move up 2 frets, then you will have an A Major Shape. If you move down 2 frets, you have F major shapes. See what I mean? Pretty useful to understand that about the guitar!

Scales is just one of those subjects that seems to get guitarists fired up - either for or against. I am not sure why anyone would want to purposefully ignore scales since they are the fundamental building block of music! The key is to explain scales in a simple way and I hope I manage to do that here.

As with most of my guitar lessons, I also prefer to hit on several points at once. So not only will you gain some very useful knowledge about scales, you will also learn a bit about chord construction, as well as develop some pretty formidable position shifting technique!

So when you are ready, start the video. It is about 14 minutes long, but I recommend going through it all since a lot of my other guitar lessons on scales, arpeggios, and chords will build upon some of the ideas in this lesson.

Tablature for this exercise:

Useful shape for a Major Scale plus fast position shifting technique! Guitar Pro tablature
Guitar Lesson Exercise Performance Tips

Performance Tips

The most challenging part of this exercise will be the position shifting that is required to pull off the exercise. And while it might seem somewhat pointless to practice scales in this way, I came up with this particular exercise because the position shifting skills that it will help you build will translate to all areas of your playing.

So just start out slow. With Ex 1a, play as even 8th notes and try and accent the downbeats, which will have you emphasizing the chord tones of a G Major 7th chord. In other words, a G Maj7 has notes G B D F#, and notice those are the same notes that happen on downbeats in the exercise. This is a great way for you to get your ears used to melody-chord relationships, since in most melodies, it is the chord tones that are used the most, especially on down beats.

Also, try and shift to each scale position as smoothly as possible so that you maintain that 8th note rhythm. The idea is to execute the position shifts so seamlessly, that you stop thinking about them!

In Ex 1b things get tougher as the tempo is bumped up to 160 BPM, and we are dealing with 16th notes, but if you spend enough time on Ex 1a, you will be surprised at how quickly you will be able to play this exercise. As with anything else, it just takes time and discipline!

Tip: Try coming up with your own exercises in other keys. For instance, start on 5th fret low E string and play an A Major Scale throughout the fretboard.

Criteria for Mastery: You understand the basics behind the Major Scale and you can play Ex 1a at 100-140 BPM


Please view the theory section of the exercise video to learn about some of the basics behind the Major Scale: