Learn Horizontal And Vertical Approaches To Practising Scales

March 27, 2015

Benefits to practicing this lesson:

  • Improved fretboard visualization;
  • More in depth knowledge of scales you are practicing;
  • Ability to piece together long scale runs.

When practicing scales in general, it is easy to slip into the habit of just practicing up and down our shapes - you could call this practicing through your scales vertically (moving across the strings). One thing that a lot of people don't do is to practice their scales horizontally (moving along the strings), and of those that do, few practice playing both horizontally and vertically simultaneously.

A skill a lot of intermediate level guitar players would like to have is to piece together long scale runs up and down their neck. Now, even if you know your modes well, you are not going to be able to do this unless you can move between your scale horizontally. The attached exercise is going to solve that problem for you, making it easier for you to move between your modes as well as piece together your own scale runs.

So let's talk about the different steps in the exercise. Everything is in the key of G major:

1. We start off by simply playing up the Ionian mode.
2. Next we are playing a one string scale of G major along the 6th string, from the 3rd fret right up to the 24th fret (if you have it) and then back again. Playing back from fret 24 to fret 3 is important, as we want to be able to move along the string in both directions.
3. Now we play up the Dorian mode.
4. Here we play the notes in G major along the 5th string, again, right up to the last fret and back again.
5. Playing up the Phrygian mode.
6. Notes in G major along the 4th string.
7. Lydian mode.
8. Notes in G major along the 3rd string.
9. Mixolydian mode.
10. Notes in G major along the 2nd string.
11. Aeolian mode.
12. Notes in G major along the 1st string.
13. Locrian mode.

The first few times you do this exercise, don't worry about playing it to a click, just get used to where your fingers go and how these scales are laid out. Once you get used to that, there are two bonus challenges you can do to get even more out of this exercise:

Challenge 1: There are mainly two different types of note - triplet quavers and semi quavers. Practice these to a click, so you get some practice at changing between different note groupings.

Challenge 2: Change key! Now you understand how this exercise works, try it in some different keys. C major and then Bb major would be good ones to try!

So there you have it, a great way to practice your scales to get more out of them. You can take this principle and apply it to other scales you might know too, pentatonics, harmonic minor, etc.

If you have any questions, let me know below and I'll answer them as soon as possible!



About the Author:
By Sam Russel. Sam is a professional musician in West London. You can get his free book, "“The Ultimate Guide to the Modes of the Major, Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor Scales”" which is available at: www.samrussell.co.uk/ebook”

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.