Knoweth thy Major Scale

by Nick Kellie

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  • Welcome to the first in a series of lessons designed to help you internalize scales, be able to change key and know them over your entire fretboard inside and out!

    It is no good just learning a scale in one position and not understanding how it relates to chords or how to play it anywhere else on the neck. Any scale you know should cover the entire fretboard. However, it isn't practical to learn a scale over the entire fretboard and it can be extremely daunting - so we break down scales into 5 learnable chunks AKA scale positions.

    The most important thing you need to take from this lesson is where the root note is situated within each scale position and where the related chord shape is situated.... The common mis-conception with scales and modes is that a position IS a mode - this is not true at all! Positions are a group of notes, the way you play them and the chord you play them over is what makes it into a mode... any scale or mode covers the entire fretboard - period.

    So you can see I have clearly laid out the 5 scale shapes I use in this exercise.. and notice that I change key 5 times, but my hand doesn't leave frets 3-5 fret region! This is power! it helps keep more continuity during improvisation and really shows you that you dont have to just learn one position and keep moving it along the fretboard....

    This video we focus on playing the scales in fret region 3-5, video 2 is fret region 5-7, video 3 is region 7-9, video 4 region 9-12 and video 5 region 12-15...

    Each exercise in each video follows the same order - Chords, Scales ascending and descending, then up one scale down the next, then down one scale up the next.

    Visualization is key so really spend a lot of time memorizing the scale shapes.

    Here is the process I take when learning scale and chord shapes:

    1) Without your guitar, visualize the chord and scale shapes until you are entirely familiar with them mentally.
    2) Once you are confident you know the shapes, only then play them on your guitar. Practice changing between chords to a metronome and play the scales to a strict count.

    Good luck!





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