Guitar Techniques – 46 Essential Scale Patterns
Scale patterns are essential guitar techniques that will build your chops, expand your fretboard knowledge, and provide you with improvisational material when applied to your guitar solos.
Though they are highly beneficial to any level of guitarist, you might only have a few patterns that you practice, or don’t know how to get the most out of these guitar techniques in your practice room.
This in-depth article will show you how to play 46 different scale patterns, how to practice essential rhythms and accents over these patterns, and how to use these patterns over chord progressions in your solos.
As well, you’ll cover pentatonic scales, modes and other 7-note scales, as well as Jazz guitar patterns in this lesson.
This’ll provide a well balanced and organized approach to learning and applying scale patterns to your technical and improvisational practice routine.
To begin, check out the “how to use this guide” section.
Then, grab your guitar and get ready to build monster chops with these 46 essential guitar scale patterns.
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Scale Patterns Contents (Click to Jump to a Section)
- How to Use This Guitar Techniques Guide
- How to Practice Guitar Scale Patterns
- Essential Guitar Rhythms
- Picking Techniques – Accents
- Pentatonic Scale Patterns
- Major Scale Patterns
- Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns
How to Use this Guitar Techniques Guide
As you can see from a quick scroll down, or look at the title, there are a lot of different guitar techniques to learn in this article.
There are 46 different patterns applied to minor pentatonic, major, and Mixolydian scale shapes to explore in your studies.
Now, don’t freak out just yet.
You don’t have to learn every pattern in this lesson to benefit from studying scale patterns in your practice routine.
If you’re new to scale patterns, start at the beginning and learn a few of the pentatonic scale patterns to begin.
From there, you can keep going in order, or jump around a bit to try out patterns that look and sound interesting to you and your musical tastes.
For the more advanced players, you can skim through, find a pattern you like, and work from that point forward.
As well, any of these scales can be beneficial to players of all genres of music.
Even the Jazz scale patterns.
For the jazzers reading this article, the pentatonic scale and major scale patterns are all found in the solos of some of your favorite players, including Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane, Pat Metheny, and others.
Just as Rock and Blues players can benefit from the Jazz scale patterns, Jazz guitarists will benefit from studying the pentatonic and major scale patterns as well.
Have fun with these patterns and bookmark this page for future study.
You won’t be able to work on every pattern all at once, nor would you want to.
Pick a pattern you like, work it for a while over a scale you’re studying and take it to your guitar solos.
Then, when you’re ready, return to this lesson and move on to the next pattern.
How to Practice Guitar Scale Patterns
As you begin to work these scale patterns in your studies, you’ll realize that having an organized practice routine will help immensely in the woodshed.
This is where working scale patterns in groups will be helpful.
When learning many, not all, of the patterns in this lesson, you’ll learn about four variations that you can apply to your guitar scale patterns in the practice room.
These scale pattern variations are:
- One Up and One Down
- One Down and One Up
You can use these patterns to build your chops and understanding of scales, but also to organize your practice routine.
Once you pick a scale pattern to learn, work it through the four variations presented for that scale, if the variations are used for that particular pattern.
This’ll give you an in-depth understanding of that pattern, and provide you with variations to use in your guitar solos as well.
Speaking of guitar solos, make sure to work each scale pattern with a metronome to build technical skills, as well as apply that pattern to your guitar solos to build improvisational skills.
To increase your soloing and technical vocabulary further, refer to the essential guitar rhythms and accents below and add any or all of these variations to your scale pattern practicing.
These rhythms and accents will challenge your technique, as well as provide rhythmic variety when using these patterns in your improvised guitar solos.
Lastly, as you work through any pattern, you can alter your picking hand to provide variety to your technical and soloing studies.
These picking-hand variations would be:
- Every Note Picked
You won’t be able to apply all of these picking-hand techniques to every scale pattern.
With some experimentation, you’ll be able to find two or three that’ll fit over any pattern.
This’ll give you a picking-hand workout, and again, make the patterns sound more engaging when applied to your guitar solos.
As you can see, there are many variations you can use when studying these patterns.
Whether it’s using different rhythms, soloing, running with a metronome, or changing up your picking hand, these variations will help you dig deep into any scale pattern, and provide organization to your scale pattern practicing.
Essential Guitar Rhythms
One of the most important guitar techniques to possess is a strong sense of rhythm, especially with single notes.
Often, beginner and even intermediate guitarists will just play fast and slow.
There’s no definition to their rhythms, or understanding of the exact rhythms they’re playing at any given time.
The best way to improve your single-note rhythmic control is by applying various rhythms to your scale and guitar scale patterns practice routine.
In this section of the lesson, you’ll learn how to apply essential guitar rhythms to any scale and scale pattern that you’re working on in your practice routine.
As you work the guitar scale patterns in this lesson, use as many of these rhythms as you can with each pattern.
This way, you’ll increase your guitar technique, and build your rhythmic foundation at the same time.
A practice room win-win.
The first rhythm that you can use to practice any scale or guitar scale pattern is the quarter note.
Think of this rhythm as being one note per beat.
So, if you set a metronome in your studies, when working quarter notes you’d play one note per click.
Here’s a demo of quarter notes through a C major scale.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 1
Quarter Note Triplets
Quarter-note triplets are built by playing three quarter notes in the space of two in each bar.
This means that for a bar of 4/4 time, you’d play two quarter note triplets.
One falls over beats 1 and 2, and the second falls on beats 3 and 4.
If you’re new to practicing rhythms on guitar, then you might want to skip ahead a bit and come back to these quarter-note triplets when you’re more confident with rhythmic patterns.
Longer triplets like this can be hard to count and feel at first.
With time, they’ll become easier to navigate in your playing, and add a new dimension to your guitar techniques and scale practice routine.
Here are quarter-note triplets as applied to the C major scale.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 2
You’ll now start to play two notes per beat as you learn 8th-notes through scale and guitar scale patterns.
When you play in a bar of 4/4, there are 8, 8th-notes in a bar.
Hence the name of this rhythm.
If you’re working with a metronome, you’ll now play two notes per click in your studies.
As well, a lot of modern metronomes have a function to set the click to 8th notes.
This can be helpful at first when learning 8th notes, with the goal to move away from that practice aid as you progress in your practicing.
Here are 8th notes applied to a C major scale as an example.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 3
As was the case with quarter notes, you can also build triplets out of 8th notes.
In this case, you’ll play three notes in the space of one quarter notes.
This tends to be easier to count and play compared to quarter-note triplets.
Mostly because each 8th-note triplet lines up with the beat of your metronome.
Here are 8th-note triplets applied to a C major scale.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 4
Moving into the faster realm of rhythms in your studies, you’re ready to explore 16th notes.
Here, you’ll play four notes for every beat.
This means you’re now playing 16 notes in a bar, hence their name.
To help you see and hear this rhythm, here are 16th notes applied to a two-octave C major scale.
It can be easier to run faster rhythms, such as 16th notes, through longer scales when first learning them.
Though the scale is longer, it gives you more time to get into a flow with the rhythms.
Give 16th notes a try over any two-octave scale you’re working on as they will challenge your technique, and increase your rhythmic knowledge at the same time.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 5
As well as practicing singe rhythms over your guitar scale patterns, you can mix and match any two or more rhythms in your studies.
Here are a few examples of where to begin when working on combo rhythms over scale patterns.
The first example mixes quarter notes and 8th notes over a C major scale.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 6
Moving on, here is a classic guitar practice rhythm, 8th and 16th notes combined over each beat.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 7
After applying these two sample rhythmic combs to your practice routine, move forward by combining any two, or more, rhythms over any guitar scale pattern you’re currently studying.
Now that you have an a number of rhythmic variations that you can use to enhance your guitar scale patterns in the woodshed, you’re ready to check out how to add right-hand accents to your scale pattern practice.
Picking Techniques – Accents
As well as using scale patterns to build your fretting hand, you can use these same exercises to build your picking technique.
To do so, you can add accents into any scale pattern in the lesson below.
An accent is when you play one note louder than the others in a given measure or within a group of notes.
One of the most direct and beneficial ways to do this is to break up any scale pattern into groups of 4 notes.
When doing so, you can then accent each of those four notes in your studies.
You can also do this with three-note groups when practicing triplets.
Here are examples of four-note accent groups that you can add to the scale patterns in this lesson.
The first accent pattern is on the first note of each four-note group.
In this case, in a bar of 4/4 time, you’re accenting the 1st and 3rd beats of each bar.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 55
Moving on, you can accent the second note in each four-note group.
In this case, you’re accenting the & of 1 and 3 in each bar of 4/4 time.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 56
Next, you can add the accent to the third note of each four-note group.
When doing so, you’ll accent beats 2 and 4 in a 4/4 bar of music.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 57
The last single accent falls on the fourth note of each four-note group.
This places the accents on the & of 2 and 4 when applied to a measure of 4/4 time.
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You can also combine accents to have two in each four-note group.
Here’s an example of how to play accents on the 1st and 3rd notes of those groups.
This places the accents on each beat of a 4/4 bar of music.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 59
Here’s another example of a combined accent pattern.
In this case, the accents fall on the &’s of each beat in a bar of 4/4 time.
There are many other combinations when practicing accents.
So, try these two examples out and then come up with other accent combinations of your own as you explore these guitar techniques further in the woodshed.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 60
With the rhythmic and picking variations under your belt, you’re now ready to take these variations to the scale patterns below, beginning with the most popular guitar scale of all time, the pentatonic scale.
Pentatonic Scale Patterns
One of the best scales to practice when studying guitar scale patterns is the pentatonic scale.
Whether it’s the minor, major, Dorian, or any variation of the pentatonic scale, patterns can help you learn any 5-note scale in your studies.
As well, because pentatonic scales are often the first scale guitarists learn, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut with these melodic devices in your playing.
Applying scale patterns to pentatonic scales is a great way to build chops, learn scale fingerings, and bring a breath of fresh air to the most common scale on guitar.
In this section of the lesson, you’ll learn a series of patterns over the pentatonic scale, as well as study essential variations for any pattern you learn and apply to your scale practice.
Pentatonic Scale Pattern 1
The first pentatonic scale pattern runs up three notes from each note in the scale.
This means that if you think of the pentatonic scale as having five notes, 12345, you’re playing 123, 234, 345, etc.
Then, as you reach to the top of the scale you reverse the pattern.
One the way down you play 543, 432, 321, etc. from each note in the scale.
Here’s how this pattern looks and sounds over an A minor pentatonic scale shape.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 8
Pentatonic Scale Pattern 2
You can now expand upon the previous pattern by adding a note to form a 1234 pattern in your studies.
When doing so, you play 1234, 2345, etc. up the scale.
Then, you reverse the pattern to play 5432, 4321, etc. down the scale.
Here’s an example to begin, then take this pattern to any key or fingering for the pentatonic scale in your studies.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 9
Pentatonic Scale Pattern 3
This pattern skips a note as you run up and down any pentatonic scale.
When doing so, you form the interval pattern 13, 24, 35, etc. going up the scale.
Then, on the way down you play the same intervals, but now descending the scale.
This type of scale pattern, where you play the same direction for your pattern both ascending and descending the scale is very popular with sax players.
When applied to the fretboard, it’ll provide you with a new perspective on both scale patterns and scale shapes in your playing.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 10
Pentatonic Scale Pattern 4
You’ll now reverse the previous pattern as you play 31, 42, 53, etc. up and down the pentatonic scale.
As you’ve gathered by this point in the lesson, reversing any scale pattern is a common variation of this technique.
When moving forward in your studies, and learning new scale patterns, you can always reverse the pattern to double the amount to material derived from that single pattern in your routine.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 11
Pentatonic Scale Pattern 5
Once you’ve worked on reversing any scale pattern, you can then pair up the first and second versions of that pattern over any scale shape.
In this case, you can see the last two scale patterns combined over the A minor pentatonic scale.
Again, this’ll allow you to expand on a single scale pattern through variation, rather than have to learn a new scale pattern right away in the practice room.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 12
Pentatonic Scale Pattern 6
You’ll now take this approach a step further as you reverse the combined pattern that you just learned.
Reversing and combining scale patterns in your studies will provide you with four options for any scale pattern that you’re studying.
This’ll not only be helpful when exploring guitar techniques, but it’ll expand your options when adding these scale patterns to your guitar solos as well.
If you’re new to these guitar techniques, not to worry, you’ll really dig deep into reversal and combination scale patterns in the major scale patterns section of this lesson.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 13
Pentatonic Scale Pattern 7
Here’s a four-note scale pattern that brings a modern, modal sound to your pentatonic scale practicing.
The pattern is built by playing three notes up the “left” side of the scale, followed by one note on the “right” side of the scale.
For left-handed guitarists, these sides would be reversed.
Because it’s a four-note scale pattern, you’ll cover the entire pentatonic scale pretty quickly.
To keep things flowing in your practicing, you can play this pattern three or four times in a row before increasing the metronome speed.
This’ll help you get into a nice flow when working this longer scale pattern on the guitar.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 14
Pentatonic Scale Pattern 8
In the next four scale patterns, you’ll work out the four practice variations for a three-note pentatonic scale pattern.
This pattern is built by playing three notes up the left side of the scale, followed by three notes up the right side of the scale.
Again, you’ll play the pattern ascending through both directions of the scale in your studies.
Here’s the ascending, original, version of the pattern applied to an A pentatonic scale shape.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 15
Pentatonic Scale Pattern 9
You can now reverse the previous scale pattern as you descend three notes at a time both up and down the pentatonic scale.
Watch your picking with this, and any three-note, pattern.
Often you’ll find yourself sweeping through the three-note pattern.
Which is fine.
When doing so, avoid ringing the notes like a chord.
When working on scale patterns, at least in the beginning, you want to keep each note separate.
This’ll allow you to work on your single-note technique, and not have the exercise creep into the arpeggio or scale side of your studies.
There will be some overlap between notes, but think of it as being smooth and not overhanging.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 16
Pentatonic Scale Pattern 10
As you probably guessed, you’ll now combine the ascending and descending versions to form a combined version of this pattern.
Again, sweeping through the pattern is a perfectly acceptable picking approach for this pattern.
Just work on keeping each note sounding on its own, and not ringing out like an arpeggiated chord in your studies.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 17
Pentatonic Scale Pattern 11
The final pentatonic scale pattern is a reversal of the combo pattern you just learned.
As you practice this, or any scale pattern you learn, make sure to work it two ways.
The first is with a metronome to build your fundamental guitar techniques.
And the second is to solo with these patterns over chords to build your soloing chops with the same pattern.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 18
As you can see, by practicing any of these guitar scale patterns you’ll not only build up your technique, but you’ll breathe new life into an old friend, the pentatonic scale.
With a solid understanding of how scale patterns work, how you build variations from these patterns, and how to work them in the woodshed, you’re ready to move on to applying patterns to full, 7-note scales.
Major Scale Patterns
The second group of scale patterns in this lesson are applied to major scale fingerings on the guitar.
Though they’re used over just the major scale in these examples, you can apply them to all 28 guitar modes in your studies.
When learning how to play scales and modes on the guitar, it’s tempting to learn one scale, or even one fingering, and then quickly move on to the next scale.
While you’ll cover a lot of ground in the woodshed that way, this approach will lead to memory problems with scales down the road.
By applying patterns to scales and modes, you’ll expand your understanding of guitar techniques, deeply ingrain any fingering, and increase your improvisational vocabulary at the same time.
This’ll provide a beneficial practice room experience for guitarists of any experience level or background.
123 Scale Pattern
The first group of four major scale patterns is based on the 123 note group.
This is the perfect scale pattern for those just beginning their study of 7-note scale patterns.
As there are no skips in this scale pattern, you can challenge your technique without pushing it too far that it falls apart in the practice room.
Lastly, this pattern is often used in guitar solos by Rock, Jazz, Funk, and Fusion guitarists.
Because of its popularity, the 123 scale pattern will become a regular part of both your technical and soloing practice routine
123 Scale Pattern 1
As you did with the pentatonic scale, you’ll begin your study of major scale patterns with the 123 pattern ascending.
If you’re new to this pattern, notice that the 123, 234, direction of the pattern remains the same as you play down the scale.
This ascending scale pattern will be the foundation for the first-four major scale patterns that you’ll study.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 19
123 Scale Pattern 2
The second major scale pattern is a reversal of the first pattern, as you’re now playing 321, 432, up and down the scale.
If you’ve worked through all of the pentatonic scale patterns already, try playing the reversal pattern below without reading the music.
Then, if you get stuck take a look to see if you’re correct in your application of the reversal technique with this new scale and pattern.
This’ll help you build the skill of reversing any pattern, rather than simply memorizing the pattern in your studies.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 20
123 Scale Pattern 3
Here’s the first combination for the 123 pattern applied to the major scale.
Though each scale pattern in this section is demonstrated over a one-octave shape, to keep it neat on the page, make sure to work these patterns over two-octave scales as well.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 21
123 Scale Pattern 4
The last variation of the 123 scale pattern features a reversal of the combination pattern you just learned.
By now you should have the hang of the four scale pattern variations.
- Combination Reversed
If you’re comfortable with these variations, practice applying them to any future scale pattern without reading the music.
Again, this focuses on skill building as well as technical and improvisational material in your practice routine.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 22
1234 Scale Pattern
As was the case with the pentatonic scale patterns, you’ll now add a note to the previous pattern to form a four-note scale pattern.
When doing so, you’ll play 1234, 2345, etc. up the scale.
Though it’s only one more note in each pattern, these four notes can be tougher to master in your practice routine.
They require more attention to the fingering, and a deeper understanding of the scale shape you’re practicing.
So, if you get stuck with any of these 1234 scale pattern variations, take a minute and review the scale you’re working on.
Then, return to the pattern and continue your guitar scale patterns study from there.
1234 Scale Pattern 1
To begin, here’s the ascending version of the 1234 scale pattern to learn and apply to your guitar solos.
Go slow with this pattern, starting with quarter notes and 8th notes in the beginning.
From there, for an extra challenge, you can work triplets with this pattern.
Applying a three-note rhythm to a four-note pattern is a great way to push any scale pattern to new heights in your practicing and improvisations.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 23
1234 Scale Pattern 2
Here is the reverse 1234 pattern to work in your studies.
As you progress through these variations, play two of them back to back.
So, play up and down the scale with the ascending 1234 pattern.
Then, right away play up and down the scale with the descending 1234 pattern.
This approach will help you switch gears with different patterns in your studies, and help keep older pattern fresh in your hands and ears within your practice routine.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 24
1234 Scale Pattern 3
Moving on, here’s the first 1234 combination scale pattern to add to your technical and soloing practice routine.
Again, work this pattern first through the example fingering below.
Then, when you’re ready, take it to other major scale fingerings, as well as to other scales and modes in your studies.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 25
1234 Scale Pattern 4
Lastly, you’ll work out the reverse version of the 1234 combination pattern you just studied.
To challenge yourself further with the 1234 pattern, play through all versions in a row over a C major scale.
From there, work that exercise in all 12 keys as you push yourself even further in your study of this important guitar scale pattern.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 26
Diatonic 3rds Scale Patterns
Applying intervals to any scale you’re learning can be hugely beneficial to your technique, fretboard knowledge, and soloing skill set.
In this section, you’ll apply 3rds to major scale patterns using the four variations you’ve studied so far.
After you’ve worked on 3rds, you can expand this approach by working other intervals, 4ths, 5ths, etc., through any scale fingering you’re studying.
While they are highly beneficial to your playing, they’re also more difficult to play as compared to the previous two major scale patterns.
This is due to the note skipping that’s involved when playing 3rds through scales.
So, go slow with each variation, work it with a metronome, and in no time you’ll have these four scale patterns confidently under your fingers.
Diatonic 3rds Pattern 1
To begin your study of this pattern, here are ascending 3rds through a C major scale.
Keep a focus on your picking hand as you play this pattern.
When jumping around the scale like this, the biggest challenge is often the picking hand, as opposed to the fretting hand with other patterns.
While it may be a bigger challenge, 3rds will also produce bigger results for your picking hand in the woodshed.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 27
Diatonic 3rds Pattern 2
Here’s the reverse 3rds pattern to work on in your practice routine.
If you’re finding it hard to play 3rds with your picking hand, take some time to work out the picking.
Study the string transitions, and see if you want to use economy or alternate picking with this pattern.
This’ll help you expand your undering of guitar techniques, and lift your picking hand up to the level of your fretting hand in your studies.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 28
Diatonic 3rds Pattern 3
The third variation of this pattern will feature a combination of one ascending and one descending 3rd interval up and down the scale.
For those players focussing on improvising in your studies, this pattern is a great addition to your soloing vocabulary.
It has a modern sound to it, in as modern as a major scale can be, and when mixed with various rhythms brings a new light to your major-scale soloing lines.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 29
Diatonic 3rds Pattern 4
To finish your study of 3rds through the major scale, here is the reverse combination pattern to apply to your guitar techniques practice routine.
With all four 3rds patterns under your belt, play them back to back as you challenge yourself further.
As well, for an even bigger challenge, you can play each variation with a different rhythm as you expand your rhythmic and technical chops in the practice room.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 30
Diatonic Triads Scale Patterns
In the next four scale patterns, you’ll work on applying triads to your major scale practice routine.
When working on diatonic triads through any scale, you’re playing two skps in a row with each triad.
Doing so will challenge both your picking and fretting hands in your studies.
Because of this, triads through scales is one of the best guitar techniques that you can use to build coordination between both hands in the practice room.
Work each pattern separately at first.
Then, when you’re ready, begin to play them back to back as you review and expand these patterns in your study of these important guitar techniques.
Diatonic Triads Pattern 1
Here’s the ascending triads version of the pattern to apply to your scale practice.
As you can see, because this is a three-note pattern, and you want to run it from each note in the scale, it’s longer than the patterns you’ve studied up to this point.
This’ll help with building endurance as well as technique in your studies, especially when playing two or more of these variations back to back.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 31
Diatonic Triads Pattern 2
Moving on, here’s the reversal of that first triad pattern, descending diatonic triads.
To push yourself further, you can work on saying each triad as you play through the scale.
For instance, when playing in the key of C major, you’d say the following triad names as you played them.
You don’t have to say each triad to benefit technically from this exercise.
Learning a bit of theory within your scale patterns practice will go a long way to opening up your fretboard and increasing your knowledge of music theory techniques at the same time.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 32
Diatonic Triads Pattern 3
This is the first combination triad scale pattern, featuring one ascending followed by one descending triad through the scale.
Again, say each triad to expand this exercise in your routine.
If you find this difficult, start without any tempo.
Just play the first triad and say C.
Then say Dm and play the next triad.
Even doing that once before running the scale with a metronome can be beneficial in your playing.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 33
Diatonic Triads Pattern 4
To finish your study of triads through scales, here’s the second combination version of this pattern.
Don’t forget to apply any and all of these triad patterns to your soloing practice as well.
Working guitar techniques such as these is great with a metronome, but they really take off when used in an improvisational setting.
As I’ve often said to my private guitar students:
“If you can play a technique you’ve got it memorized. But, if you can solo with a technique you’ve got it internalized.”
You always want to aim to internalize any technique, not just memorize it in your studies.
This way, guitar techniques such as these patterns become a part of your vocabulary, and don’t remain on the page as a small part of your guitar practice routine.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 34
Diatonic Arpeggios Patterns
If you’ve been working through these guitar techniques in order up to this point, you’ll know that once you learn a three-note pattern, you add a note to make it a four-note scale pattern.
When adding a note to the three-note triad patterns, you form four-note arpeggios through any scale you’re practicing on the guitar.
Below are four variations of diatonic arpeggios applied to the C major scale.
Work these variations both with a metronome and over backing tracks in your guitar soloing studies.
As well, to challenge yourself, say each diatonic arpeggio as you play it through the scales below.
Diatonic Arpeggios Pattern 1
To start, here are ascending arpeggios through the C major scale.
If you want to say each arpeggio as you play them, here is the order for the key of C major.
From there, you can move this scale pattern and those diatonic arpeggios to other keys in your practicing.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 35
Diatonic Arpeggios Pattern 2
Here is the descending version of the diatonic arpeggios pattern to apply to your scale practice.
Though they are just a reversal of the pattern you just learned, descending arpeggios are one of the most difficult guitar techniques in this lesson to play smoothly.
Picturing the top note of an arpeggio and playing it down from there is tough as it is.
Then, add in playing them in tempo, with different rhythms, and in different keys, and you’ve got quite the practice room challenge in front of you.
To make this easier on yourself, play through any arpeggio pattern first with no metronome, just to get the shapes visualized on the fretboard.
Then when you’re ready, bring in the metronome to bring these diatonic arpeggios up to speed in your studies.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 36
Diatonic Arpeggios Pattern 3
Moving on, you’re going to combine the first two diatonic arpeggio patterns in the next exercise.
Make sure to solo with these patterns to help learn them on the fretboard, and apply them to a musical situation.
When doing so, start with a one-chord vamp jam track, then move on to more complex chord progressions and full songs from there.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 37
Diatonic Arpeggios Pattern 4
The last variation of diatonic arpeggios features a descending arpeggio followed by an ascending arpeggio through the C major scale.
To work on building endurance in both your picking and fretting hands, play all four arpeggio patterns back to back.
This’ll test your memory, build coordination, and challenge your endurance all at the same time.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 38
1235 Guitar Scale Pattern
The final major scale pattern comes from the late, great saxophonist John Coltrane.
This pattern became famous after Trane used it in his legendary solo over the song Giant Steps.
While he applied the 1235 pattern to each chord in the song, one at a time, you’ll apply this pattern to each note in the major scale.
This is tricky to apply on the fly.
So, feel free to use the music for the first few variations, then practice applying the 1235 interval group to any note in the major scale without the music from there.
Learning guitar techniques can often mean going beyond the fretboard and taking inspiration from other instruments.
The 1235 scale pattern is a great example of this practice room approach.
1235 Scale Patterns 1
Here’s the ascending 12345 pattern ascending from each note in the C major scale.
As you saw earlier, using triplet rhythms with a four-note scale pattern can move your playing into new directions in the woodshed.
So, start with quarter or 8th notes with this pattern.
Then, when that’s comfortable, move on to triplets to hear how that three-note rhythm alters the sound of this four-note scale pattern.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 39
1235 Scale Patterns 2
Here’s the first variation of the 1235 pattern, where you’ll descend the pattern over the scale shape.
When doing so, you produce the interval structure 5321.
As was the case with diatonic arpeggios, the descending 1235 pattern is tough to get down.
Take your time with this scale pattern in your studies.
With time, and focus in the woodshed, you’ll nail this essential scale pattern.
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1235 Scale Patterns 3
Here’s the first 1235 combination scale pattern to study and add to your soloing vocabulary.
Watch your picking when switching directions with this pattern, or any combination scale pattern.
Sometimes they’ll sit nicely on the fretboard.
But, other times those switches will need some focus in your practicing to get the down smoothly.
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1235 Scale Patterns 4
The final 1235 and major scale pattern is the reverse combination pattern.
When practicing guitar techniques in the woodshed, you’ll want to build your endurance as much as anything.
So, after learning this pattern, play as many patterns as you can in a row of the C major scale.
Even at a slow tempo this is a highly beneficial exercise.
It’ll build your guitar chops, and work on your memorization of scale patterns all in one exercise.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 42
Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns
If you’re exploring Jazz guitar in your studies, then these next 11 scale patterns are essential guitar techniques to bring into your practice routine.
Each of these patterns comes from transcribed solos of some of the greatest players of all time, including Charlie Parker, Joe Pass, Mike Stern, and more.
Not only will these scale patterns build your technique, but they’ll instantly turn your scale lines into Jazz guitar licks when used over Jazz standards in your solos.
Each of the patterns below is demonstrated over a G7 chord.
Make sure to apply these patterns to as many other scales as you can in order to build a balanced approach to these patterns in your playing.
These can include major modes, melodic minor modes, and the ever popular and essential Bebop Scale.
Lastly, when working on Jazz scale patterns, they sound best played down the scale at first.
So, each of the patterns below is presented with an ascending G7 arpeggio followed by the descending pattern.
When you’re comfortable with any pattern, you can apply it in any direction to your Jazz guitar soloing lines and phrases.
Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns 1 – Enclosed Root
The first Jazz guitar scale pattern is one of the most important in the genre, the enclosure.
Enclosures have many variations that you can learn and solo with, but this one is the most popular.
To build an enclosure, which you can see over a root note in this pattern, you start by playing a note one fret higher than that root note.
From there, you play one fret below the target note.
Then you play the target note.
Essentially enclosing that target note, or encircling it with two chromatic notes.
Building a bit of tension into your lines, these chromatic notes will need to be resolved to avoid an awkward moments in your solos.
So, you can add enclosures to any part of the bar, or over any chord or scale, but make sure to land on the target note at the end of each enclosure.
This’ll allow you to build tension and release into your Jazz guitar solos, and avoid any lines sounding like mistakes over Jazz standards.
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Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns 2 – Enclosed 5th
As well as adding an enclosure to the root of any scale, you can also enclose the 5th of any scale you’re playing in a Jazz setting.
Here’s an example of adding an enclosure to the 5th of a G Mixolydian scale.
When this pattern is comfortable, take it to other scales to expand upon the enclosed 5th in your practice routine.
As well, don’t forget to bring this pattern to your soloing studies, that’s where the musical rubber really hits the road.
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Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns 3 – Enclosed Root and 5th
To finish your introduction to enclosures, here are both the enclosed root and 5th applied to the G Mixolydian scale shape.
This may sound a bit too tense for some players, but give it a try.
It might be too harsh at first.
With time, your ears will become more accustomed to this new sound and you’ll be able to apply these enclosures more organically in your improvisations.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 45
Jazz Guitar Scales Pattern 4 – Honeysuckle
One of the most popular Jazz guitar scale patterns, the Honeysuckle is based on the the song by Fats Waller, “Honeysuckle Rose.”
In this pattern, you add a chromatic passing note to the original melody line to form this new melodic sound.
The pattern can begin on the root note of any dominant or minor family chord you’re soloing over, such as 7th and m7 chords.
When starting on the root note, you play down three chromatic notes, before running up a diatonic triad to finish that section of the line.
From there you can run down the rest of the scale as is.
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Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns 5 – Honeysuckle Enclosed Root
Here’s that same Honeysuckle pattern with an added enclosure on the root of the underlying scale.
Again, you can work the Honeysuckle pattern, and enclosure, over both minor and dominant family chords.
So, start by learning the following example over G7, then bring this extended Jazz scale pattern to other scales in your woodshedding.
Click to hear guitar techniques scale patterns 47
Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns 6 – Honeysuckle Enclosed 5th
You can now add in the enclosed 5th to your Honeysuckle pattern as you expand that technique further in your studies.
After you’ve worked this pattern out, you can bring both the enclosed root and 5th to your Honeysuckle pattern.
Try it out, though that may be too busy for you, it’s worth exploring in both your technical and improvisational practice routine.
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Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns 7 – Double Approach
You’ll now use a double approach note pattern to highlight the 3rd of any 7th or maj7 chord you’re soloing over.
As you can see, you play one note above the target note, in this case C with a B target note.
From there, you’ll play two chromatic notes below the target note that resolve up to your target.
In this key those four notes are C-A-A#-B.
You can see and work this pattern over a G7 chord below.
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Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns 8 – Double Approach 2
Here’s the same approach note pattern only this time it’s applied to the 6th note of the Mixolydian scale.
As you can apply this double approach to any two notes a half-step apart, you can use it between the 3rd and 4th, and 6th and b7th of the Mixolydian scale.
After you’ve learned this, and the previous, scale pattern, work on applying it to any scale you know where you have two notes in that scale one fret apart on the guitar.
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Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns 9 – Joe Pass
Here is a Joe Pass inspired line that you can use to add a Jazz flavor to your dominant and major family soloing lines.
The crux of this pattern is the chromatic triplets running up from the 3rd to the 5th and back again.
In the example below, there’s an enclosure on the 3rd at the start of the chromatic notes.
This is to make the exercise run smoothly, and it’s optional when working this pattern into your Jazz guitar solos.
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Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns 10 – Dim7 Arpeggio
You can now mix in an arpeggio into your Jazz scale pattern practice.
Because this arpeggio is played from the major 3rd of the underlying chord, you can only use this pattern over dominant 7th chords.
But, you can use it with any 7th-chord scale, such as Mixolydian, Bebop, Lydian Dominant, and the Altered Scale.
When you play a dim7 arpeggio from the 3rd of a 7th chord, you’re outlining a 7b9 sound in that chord.
The b9 interval will cause some tension in the line, so make sure to resolve that tension so it doesn’t sound like a mistake in your solos.
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Jazz Guitar Scale Patterns 11 – Dim7 Arpeggio Enclosure
The final Jazz guitar scale pattern adds an enclosure to the top of your dim7 arpeggio when applied to a G Mixolydian scale.
When adding in the enclosure, you can change the rhythm of the upper note to be a quarter note.
This allows the rest of the line to be smooth in its flow, and brings more emphasis to the b9 interval over this chord.
Tension is cool is Jazz, such as the b9, as long as you resolve that tension.
This is a good example of that concept in action.
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For the Jazz players in the room, these 11 scale patterns are essential learning.
They are the most commonly used scale patterns in the genre, and will help make any scale you play sound like Jazz in your solos.
For the non-Jazz guitarists, check these patterns out.
They’ll expand your technique, open your ears to new options, and bring a bit of Jazz into your playing.
And who knows, we might just win you over to the dark side one of these days.
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