Major Scale/3 Nps Strategy And Implementation Question(s), Best way to play the major scale in any key using 3NPS
Nov 12 2017, 01:11 AM
GMC:er
Posts: 16
Joined: 14-September 15
From: USA

Dear Fellow GMC’ers,

First a quick and heartfelt thank you to Kris, Gab, and Darius. Huge inspirations and the time all instructors have taken with me and I’m sure anyone reading this is beyond words…

I had a nice back and forth with Kris who felt it was best I posted my question in the THEORY section. Would love to hear from everyone on this who has been in the same boat as me:

The “concept” of scales I finally understand well along with the major scale versus modes after all these years of avoiding it like the plague. The issue I am running into is learning the practical application of the major scale. I’ve gotten my pentatonic down and I am comfortable with the 5 box shapes and HOW to connect them. I can “see them” on the fret board and connect those dots. For whatever reason the major scale seems to be a mess. Some teachers profess the CAGED, some 3NPS, etc. I personally like the 3NPS for the uniformity and fluidity of it although the overlapping of notes seems redundant.

SO how do you approach connecting the dots for the major scale? Do you just grit your teeth and memorize Ionian, Dorian, etc. as patterns similar to 1-5 for the pentatonic boxes? Attached is the C major scale my buddy wrote for me to learn (he graduated Berklee, smart guy and great guitarist) starting on the A string. He did this so I could grasp the tonality of the patterns before applying them to all the strings. While he is right, if I played that same shape starting on the 8th Fret of the low E it wouldn’t work. I’d have to shift everything from the G string down. It’s doable but see the discrepancy here?

We want to unlock the fret board with the major scale because it covers so much/modes, but my fear is if I get stuck mentally using just the E string as the starting point I’m losing out big time… I don’t want the low E to be my only reference. If you say C Ionian I should be able to instantly play it 3rd fret on the A, 8th on low E, 10th on D, etc. Shouldn’t make a difference. But if I only have one pattern shape in mind I’m screwed! I’ve heard of instructors discuss learning the root note in any position but not much beyond that phrase (haven’t seen the practical side of that yet).

With all this being said, any tips and tricks as to how you got the major scale down and in turn the modes, please let me know.

Peace and love to all- Kirk Hamster

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Nov 15 2017, 10:25 AM
GMC Founder
Posts: 16.912
Joined: 15-August 05
From: Stockholm, Sweden
QUOTE (kirkhamster @ Nov 12 2017, 01:11 AM)
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The “concept” of scales I finally understand well along with the major scale versus modes after all these years of avoiding it like the plague. The issue I am running into is learning the practical application of the major scale. I’ve gotten my pentatonic down and I am comfortable with the 5 box shapes and HOW to connect them. I can “see them” on the fret board and connect those dots. For whatever reason the major scale seems to be a mess. Some teachers profess the CAGED, some 3NPS, etc. I personally like the 3NPS for the uniformity and fluidity of it although the overlapping of notes seems redundant.

Cool topic!

I'll be bold an answer with a question: Would you say you know more licks in the pentatonic scale or major scale?

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Nov 15 2017, 10:47 PM
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Posts: 16
Joined: 14-September 15
From: USA
QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Nov 15 2017, 09:25 AM)
Cool topic!

I'll be bold an answer with a question: Would you say you know more licks in the pentatonic scale or major scale?

Definitely pentatonic licks. All the usual suspects, for instance bending on the 14th fret G string, striking the 12's B and E strings and so on. Very Hammett style, or Zakk style licks. Once I sat down without distraction and learned the 5 shapes, it wasn't too bad moving around the fret board on the pentatonic level! Thanks KD

QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ Nov 15 2017, 04:33 PM)
Hi mate! Great to see you getting into major scale and modes.

The secret is as always practice. The key is to be able to relate everything (Pentatonic shapes, caged system, chord shapes, arpeggios, triads), but it can be overwhelming at first.

In order to give you specific ideas on what to do next, I'll tell you what I would do in your place at this time.

No matter if you prefer the Caged system, or the 3NPS thing. You need to visualise the root chord while playing a scale. By root chord, I reffer to the chord that is form starting from the root of a scale. In the case of C Ionian (major) mode, the root chord is C Major.

So what I do is to play the different positions of C major, and try to visualise the chord, as well as the Major Pentatonic. The idea is to see everything related. I also visualise Major triads since these are great smaller structures to find chord tones.

That's the way to identify the stronger notes of a scale, and see some kind of structure instead of a sea of notes all along the fret board.

Besides this, you need to learn licks, phrases, sequences, based on the scale, and play along with backing tracks.

Once you are familiar with Ionian, you can move to Dorian, and so....

THANK YOU Gab! Conceptually I believe I understand what you mean but on a practical level could you confirm your process of visualization please? For instance if we are playing the C Major/Ionian scale on the 8th fret low E using the 3NPS are you trying to actually visualize the C major chord itself within that specific scale? And are there different C major chords for each scale pattern? I know its important to know the root note so you can emphasize that sound over your chord progression but again hazy on the implementation. Maybe a quick video for anyone reading this if that is OK? Cheers!

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Nov 16 2017, 10:05 AM
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Posts: 16.912
Joined: 15-August 05
From: Stockholm, Sweden
QUOTE (kirkhamster @ Nov 15 2017, 10:47 PM)
Definitely pentatonic licks. All the usual suspects, for instance bending on the 14th fret G string, striking the 12's B and E strings and so on. Very Hammett style, or Zakk style licks. Once I sat down without distraction and learned the 5 shapes, it wasn't too bad moving around the fret board on the pentatonic level! Thanks KD

The reason I asked - is because I believe this is the superior way of leraning and memorising new scales / scale positions. So to me - your answer explains why you have problems with the major scale but not the pentatonic scale ( I used to have the exact same problem btw).

If you learn two licks (that you love the sound of) in two adjacent positions you will likely learn these positions much faster. Now add a third adjacent one and you are starting to cover a lot of ground without thinking "Theory" - rather you will have adapted a musical approach to solving this problem. Let me know if it makes sense.

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