scale patterns

A lot of players get to the point where they’ve learned their scale patterns, be they CAGED, 3NPS patterns, my own Hacking the CAGED System patterns, hacked 3NPS patterns, or the much-loved 2 Position Guitar Scale System. A good exercise to do next is to literally forget them because running up and down scale patterns at this point is great for your technique but little else.

In the following exercise, we’re going to play THROUGH the patterns from the lowest note in the scale to the highest note. The is a little like the four-note-per-string ideas we looked at here, but what a lot of players found with those was that they couldn’t stretch, or that it was painful to do so.

In the diagrams below, you’ll see the C Major scale starting on the lowest available note on the guitar, which in this case is an E, up to the highest available note (depending on how many frets you have).

c major scale whole length of fretboard

You don’t need huge hands to do this if you use slides where the black lines are. Most of the time you’ll be sliding on your first finger but do experiment to find the most comfortable way for your particular hand ergonomics.

Play through the patterns slowly at first, you don’t need to memorize them as the idea is to get you out of playing in boxes and rewire your brain a little.

Over to You
Here are a few more ways you could navigate the C Major scale from the lowest to highest note. I haven’t put any slides on this diagram because I want you to work out the best fingering for you to get from one end of the fretboard to the other.

c major scale exercises guitar

This is a great exercise to do in all keys or with any scale for that matter, but once you’ve learned your 5, or however many, scale patterns.

If you like the diagonal/horizontal approach, also check out our free eBook: Horizontal Soloing System.