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The Bluegrass Learning Place-- The Scale Maps

Posted by LifesMiracle on Tuesday, January 20, 2015

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Table of Contents © John G Nitkowski

No matter what your skill is you can always be better! The goal is not merely to enable you to play other people's musical ideas, but for you to create your own and be able to play effortlessly and almost without thought as most of the professional musicians do...

You don't need to learn tons of scales. You only need to learn two to play all 12 Major scales on the fingerboard!

(There are actually FOUR patterns, a separate pattern for starting the scale with each of the four fingers, but we'll get to that later.)

So for these two patterns, the only difference is: whether you're playing the scale above the starting note (as with the blue scales below) or playing it below the starting note, (the yellow scales)! The reason I'm putting these two together is that they can be played consecutively in a two octave scale!

These Major Scale Maps show how to play the ALL the Major scales. I can't express how important it is to learn this lesson!

  • You can learn all the Major scales in less than an hour... and NEVER forget them!
  • Go here for a printable note sheet for this lesson.
  • Click here for the Tabledit TEF file for practicing.

The C and G scale maps below are shown using open strings.









You always start on the ONE and proceed until you play the 8 notes of the scale ending on the ONE that's an octave higher.

Notice the TWO octave G scale is made up of two scales with one shared note.

The C scale pattern in the 2nd map is exactly the same as the (yellow) G scale map but one string lower!

When you move the (blue) G map up one string you have the D scale. Move it one higher again and you have the A scale. And they all have the same fingering!

These are the 2 most commonly used (and easily learned) patterns!

Here's an easy way to remember them:

  • When your scale is played with the notes higher on the neck than the starting note starting with the 1st finger, (blue G scale), the middle notes are evenly spaced.
  • When your scale is played with the notes lower on the neck than the starting note, starting with the 4th finger
    (yellow G or C scale), the middle notes are bunched together.
  • Don't forget the markers on the open positions or you won't know what I'm talking about!
  • The C scale can be played on all the yellow notes below the starting notes, or can be played moving up the neck with the Blue D2 note in the diagram and following the blue pattern.
  • Try the two octave G scale on your fiddle and master the (up and down the neck) spacing concept.

I created this Ab Major Scale map not because I play in that key often, but rather because it’s a movable map that uses no open strings. This movable map is easy. You always use the same fingerings on both strings... no matter what key you're playing in!

This is a two octave scale. But as I mentioned with the G scale above, it's really two scales with different fingerings! With one you start the scale with your 1st finger and with the other you start with your 4th.

So, for a Db scale, you could start on the Db note on the 3H fret with the 1st finger and play the next note (Eb) on the 4th string using the blue pattern, or you could play the Db with the 4th finger and play the Eb with your 1st finger on the 3rd string using the yellow pattern.

Those are the only two maps needed to play all 12 Major scales!

Also, as with the G scale, when you start with your 1st finger and move up the neck for your second note, the middle notes are evenly spaced. When you start your scale with your 4th finger and the next note played is below it on the neck, the middle notes are bunched together.

You can start on any note on any string except the E string and use these 2 patterns to play every possible scale instantly! The relationships or patterns stay the same even though the notes may change!

Notice on all the maps that when you reach the last note of the scale if you place your finger one fret lower on the next lower string you get your 3-1 Major chord; when you barre your finger on the last note and play the next higher string on the same fret; that gives you your 1-5 version of the Major chord. That’s very convenient because you will often use a scale for an intro or ending and playing that chord is a nice way to end it!


Just remember as you move up the neck the spacing gets smaller!  If you’re used to using tape to mark your frets you’ll need to learn to use your ear to determine the finger spacing to get the true note.? However, after learning this MAP system you can probably get rid of the tape entirely.  
Click here for the Tabledit TEF file for practicing.

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3 comments on “The Bluegrass Learning Place-- The Scale Maps”

ChickenMan Says:
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 @9:12:50 AM

How are you getting your blog to have this layout with columns and graphics?
Good info.

LifesMiracle Says:
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 @9:17:00 AM

I create the code in Dreamweaver and Click the "Source" button on the editing page of this site and upload the code there

Rene Says:
Monday, January 26, 2015 @3:03:38 PM

I know this is going to be a big boost to my playing once I can wrap my brain around it. I know it's a simple concept that I am trying to complicate.....

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